Life in Pain: Acupuncture, Beetles and Tea

Life in Pain: Acupuncture, Beetles and Tea

Amanda getting acupuncture.

Amanda getting acupuncture.

Acupuncture hasn’t been approved as treatment by my workers compensation. So I am very lucky that the parents of my husband, Steven, paid for it out of their own pockets. They wanted me to have the opportunity to try a new form of treatment, especially since I have no other treatments approved right now.

The night before, I was in excruciating pain. That’s what made me finally decide to try acupuncture. I hurt so bad that I was crying and begging Steven to cut off my legs.

It took packing my legs with ice to make it through the night. Normally, ice is bad for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), but I’m an odd case where heat is extremely hard on my body. If my legs get hot, then they swell, causing intense cramping.

That morning, I woke up in so much pain that I was throwing up. I was ready to try anything.

I wasn’t expecting much going in. I only tried acupuncture once before with no real results. What I was expecting was another person who wouldn’t understand; who would grab and squeeze my legs, making them worse, and offer no help. While the acupuncturist did poke my legs a little, he also talked to me and took the time to ask me about my condition.

The acupuncturist put two needles in my head, one in each wrist, and one in each forearm. He also put a needle that looked like a thumbtack in each ear. The needles in my ears hurt since they are still scabbed, aching, and inflamed from an allergic reaction I had last week. He then connected all the needles, except the ones in my ears, to electrodes and sent electric pulses through them. It was very relaxing.

Making tea. Can you see the beetle?

Making tea. Can you see the beetle?

When I left, the acupuncturist gave me a long list of herbs and instructions to make a tea out of them. He was hesitant about putting some of the ingredients in because there was an “ick” factor that he thought I would have a problem with.

One of the ingredients is Tu Bie Chong. Whole beetle!

What he didn’t realize is that I’m at the point right now, that if the doctor told me eating beetles would make me feel better then I’d be out beetle hunting.

There are people who hear that I’m in pain and think they know what I’m feeling. That it can’t be bad enough for me to justify staying in bed all day and using a wheelchair. It’s only when people stop and ask what exactly does it feels like, that they start understanding. I always explain like this:

Imagine a potato peeler. Every time something touches your legs, take the potato peeler and remove that piece of skin. Every time you take a step, take a butter knife and stab it into the bottom of your feet. Now, cling-wrap your lower legs as tight as you can, take a hammer and break the bones.

Finally, do all three of those things at once.

See how much you want to walk. Try living a normal life.

I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t even consider myself living. Right now, I exist. I’m trying to make it through each day as they come. It’s hard for me to think about tomorrow, next week, or next month, because I’m never sure that I’ll be able to make it through today. I try though.

The acupuncture gave me a ray of hope. It made the pain manageable. I slept through the night for the first time in weeks.

The tea tastes horrible but each time I drink it, I feel better emotionally and physically. It’s amazing how the things that we have the least amount of faith in can help us the most.

The acupuncturist was the only one that listened and helped with my symptoms. He won’t be able to rebuild the lost muscle in my legs or fix my weakened joints, but he can help me survive until I can get into a proper rehabilitation program.

I’ll be excited to go back.

Amanda Siebe

Amanda Siebe

Amanda Siebe lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and son. She writes about her daily battle with chronic pain and CRPS in her blog “Life in Pain.”

The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that!  It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.

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Thank you. I really appreciate all the research you have done. I can barely type this note to you, but i wanted to thank you for helping me understand what it is i am living with.



CRPS is a miserable disease but it is treatable. In my office, needles are the main ingredient in therapy for all complex pain issues.

If you don’t mind, I want to give you some pearls of wisdom I have discovered.

All Acupuncture is not equal … but any acupuncture is better than none! There are many types of “acupuncture” from Traditional Chinese, Japanese, or French Energetics. There are types just for the ear, hand or scalp. There is a doctor in Vancouver, Dr. Gunn who does not even call it acupuncture but IntraMuscular Stimulation or IMS.

Each style depends on point locations, choice of points, depth of penetration of needle, size of needles, length of needles, manipulation of needles, use of contra lateral points, diagonal points and stress points.

I get the most out of a session when I use many local points, tender (Ah Shi) points and trigger points. I like to do what I call “violining” the needles’ which is just the slow in and out probing or massaging of a point. I love to use the back shu points along with the Hua Tuo Jia Ji points to release deep seated trauma.

If one provider does not help, then try other providers. Make sure you are well hydrated and nourished with Vits and minerals, esp magnesium. You have to do your part with diet, exercise, stretching, yoga, massage… follow your wellness program.