Yay! You've decided that Chinese Medicine is for you and maybe you've even booked your initial appointment with me. Now what?
1. Making your appointment and arriving at the clinic
If you haven't already made an appointment, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call one of the clinics that you'd prefer, and our lovely receptionist will book you in!
On the day of your first appointment, eat a good breakfast and don't brush your tongue (I'll explain this in the next part!) in the morning. Please arrive 15 minutes early to fill out a 'New Client Form' (unless you have done so online), which can be quite comprehensive and long, but helps me to understand the full picture of your health and you as a person. After this is completed, I'll greet you and bring you through to our treatment room. We will then sit down and the interview process will begin.
2. The interview process
Now one thing that you should know about Chinese Medicine- our initial interviews are long. We are holistic- and this means that we consider the whole body to make a diagnosis and design a treatment plan that addresses the root of your disease- rather than just one symptom. TCM sees the human body as a system, and when one part of that system is affected, many others become affected too! Together, we will go through your New Client Form, your main complaints, and then a general questioning is performed. These questions include pain, fever or chills, urination, bowel motions, sleep, mental health, gynaecology, digestion, thirst, diet and more.
You may think "Why are you asking me about all of this, if I'm just here for one thing?". Well, we see everything as interconnected, and many times two completely different symptoms may have a deep connection that makes sense to us. All factors of your health help us reach our diagnosis.
3. The tongue, pulse and palpation
In TCM, we use the tongue and pulse diagnostically. The tongue is an interior indicator that we are able to view from the exterior- it tells us about things like heat and the state of your Qi and Blood in your body. The pulse is similar, and we study many aspects of it to help our diagnosis: the strength, tautness of the artery, beats per minute (BPM), and more. We will also touch (palpate) areas of concern, for reasons such as identifying masses, tightness or other textures.
After the interview, I will ask you to get ready on the bed while I wait outside, and then cover you with towels. I'll put a few drops of a lovely essential oil in the diffuser, and may heat up a heat pack for you if it's cold. Maybe I'll perform a little Chinese massage, gua sha, or cupping to prepare the area for acupuncture if I think you're needing it. Then, once you're all ready, I'll pop some acupuncture needles into a special selection of points chosen just for your condition.
Acupuncture can feel a little strange for first timers. Upon insertion, you may feel a little pinch or pain that will go away in a few minutes. I'll manipulate your needles gently to achieve a De Qi sensation that may be like tingling, pressure, warmth, pulling or achiness. You may feel emotionally vulnerable or sensitive- this is normal as the needles release physical and emotional stress. You're meant to feel relaxed and comfortable, so let me know if I need to adjust anything before leaving you to relax alone for around 20-30 minutes. When the needles are in, try to relax your mind, meditate, or even take a nap!
5. After your treatment
After checking in with you, I will take out the needles and dispose of them. There may be a little bruise or bleeding, which is normal as we have penetrated the skin, but these will go away. You may feel a little sleepy or spacey after treatment. Take it easy and don't do any vigorous exercise for the day, acupuncture can be draining and we don't want to overload your body. Also, don't take a shower or swim for at least 3 hours after, as we've opened up your pores and left you vulnerable, so stay cozy!
Acupuncture works best cumulatively- that is, when treatments are regular and results build-up upon one another with each session. We will design a treatment plan that outlines what you want to achieve, how we are going to achieve it, and how long we will aim for to reach your goals. Your next appointment is a review of these findings and our plan. Chronic conditions can take a while to tackle, but with long-lasting results. Usually 6-8 treatments is a good place to start. After six treatments, we will review your progress. At this stage, if you're not completely finished with your healing journey, we will continue and try new approaches. If we both agree that you have healed well, we will plan for (usually monthly or bi-monthly) preventative treatments to keep you on track.