You really shouldn’t have a favorite child. For that matter, you may have a favorite child, but no one should be able to know that one exists! Even better is when each child thinks they are your favorite! Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.
Favorites are ok in other situations. I think it’s ok for me to have a favorite patient. Sometimes I can have a bunch of favorite patients, or maybe a top-level tier of patients that I consider to be a part of that elite group. Whereas a favorite child may be the one who is a great and respectful listener. It may be the one who gives you the most affection. It may even be the one who makes you laugh the hardest, or in whom you see the most potential.
A favorite patient is similar and yet different. With a favorite child, it is more about how they make you feel now and in terms of your outlook for them for their future. What constitutes a favorite patient may be similar in that I see the potential of them having a complete recovery. It gives both of us tremendous gratification when they do. In some ways it is quite different. A favored patient really isn’t about how they make me feel. It’s about them. Consider Acupuncture and Holistic healing as a partnership. A patient will have the best success with treatment if they work in tandem with my approach. For example, proper nutrition, good sleeping habits, minimizing stressful situations whenever possible, are all examples of what they can do from their end to help ensure our overall success in helping them heal.
Much like a favorite child, a good patient is in fact a good listener. It is someone who heeds the advice I give them. They understand that my recommendations are for their benefit.
Recently I started working with a patient who suffers from neuropathy in her hands and fingers, as well as the soles of her feet. The numbness and tingling are extreme. The cold sensation in their fingertips is debilitating. It prevents them from being able to do fine motor tasks like closing buttons, or properly holding a book. The neuropathy and cold in the feet are so uncomfortable, it can only be relieved for a short time by a hot bath. It was beginning to affect their walking and security on steps. I utilized Acupuncture to promote proper blood circulation to the hands, fingers, and feet, as well as warming their Yang. I also provided them with two yin/yang squeezable stress balls I found left over from our open house last year. I explained that they should try to exercise the hands and fingers by squeezing the stress balls whenever they had the chance. I provided food recommendations to warm their core. I instructed them to add ginger, cinnamon and turmeric to their food, and to avoid foods with cold properties such as melon, mint, and cucumber, as well as cold drinks. I recommended they begin treatment with two sessions per week for the first few weeks so we could get a jump start on resolving the issues.
This quickly became a favorite patient. For starters, she came on time. For anyone who knows me, I kill myself to run on time for my patients, and I expect they have the same courtesy. If you are on time, or even a few minutes early, you quickly rise to the top of the favorites list in my eyes! I personally don’t understand when it became acceptable for any Doctor to think it is ok to keep you waiting for a prolonged period of time, sometimes even hours. Yes, emergencies and things come up- but not every time. That simply gives a message that your time is not as important as mine. That will never be the case in my practice.
This patient keeps her appointments, exercises her hands and fingers, and is implementing the nutrition guidelines. This helped us start seeing improvements quickly! She no longer has discomfort in her feet. The intensity of the neuropathy in the hands has decreased dramatically. She no longer has to hang her hands down off the side of her bed at night just to get sensation back. She is sleeping at night without discomfort. She is able to hold a light book. We continue to work on improving the circulation to the fingertips to prevent the cold and regain full function of her motor skills.
Another example of a favorite patient would be someone who simply listens to my recommendations in terms of treatment frequency. It is unrealistic to expect that I am a magician. It is unlikely I can resolve chronic health issues in one or two visits. A good patient is one who listens when I explain that Acupuncture builds on itself. Thus, the treatments need to be close together, especially at the beginning in order to realize success and healing.
A recent patient is trying to avoid back surgery for an extreme herniated disc in his lower lumbar area. The most common injuries effect neurologic dermatome levels L4-L5-S1. This can often express itself as back pain with Sciatica or Piriformis syndrome. The pain can radiate from the back, to the glutes and down the legs. Depending on the nerve roots impinged by the herniation, it can even go as far as the heel. In this case the patient understood it would take some time to resolve their 23-year chronic issue. They were willing to stay the course in order to avoid a rather debilitating surgery with a long recovery. They started to see improvement after a series of treatments. We continued doing bi weekly Acupuncture treatments for three months. We utilized Electric Stimulation and were able to resolve the pain. The patient has ‘graduated’ to maintenance. Their pain has resolved without surgical intervention. They are now at a point where they need to come in once every three to four weeks just to make sure everything is holding. They are enjoying taking long walks without fear of pain. They tell me they credit me for their being able to walk. I don’t care about credit. I feel grateful and blessed to have been able to have been the one to help them heal. I gave my straight forward recommendation of what it would take in terms of treatments, and they did their part by showing up.
My absolute favorites are the skeptics. I think it’s my fragile ego of being called a voodoo Doctor. I’m kidding. I actually take that with a smile. As long as my patients are having improvement, they can call me their Voodoo Dr., Dr. Rothman, Deborah, Debbie or Doc. When a patient comes in under duress from their spouse or parents, and doesn’t believe in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine it actually becomes so much fun for me. I guess I like a challenge.
A recent young patient of mine suffering with gastrointestinal issues has been put through the ringer. She has numerous scopes, and tried numerous medications to get a handle on her IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Her parents have really tried so hard to get to the bottom of things. I think it’s fair to say they forced her to give Acupuncture a try, figuring she had nothing to lose.
When she feels over-stressed with her school work, it has a direct correlation and sets off her GI symptoms. In her case we utilized Acupuncture with dietary recommendations and have seen amazing improvement. She had previously seen numerous Nutritionists without success. The guidelines she was given should have worked. From a medical vantage point perspective, on paper they made sense. Unfortunately, and quite frustratingly, they didn’t work for her. She needed to make some minor adjustments with those guidelines and incorporate Acupuncture to both minimize her stress, as well as support and solidify the meridians responsible for digestion. Had we just taken care of her stress levels, or just taken care of boosting her digestion, I don’t think it would have worked. It was the combination that has helped this patient so much. She often tells me she wishes she would have tried it sooner.
Another patient suffered from chronic sinus infections. He was frequently on antibiotics, nasal saline sprays, and anti-histamines. He simply got tired of always feeling like he couldn’t breathe and feeling dried out from all the medications. I recommended an herbal caffeine tea to help dry him out naturally. I utilized specific Acupuncture points to open up his nasal passages, and support the corresponding meridians. Immediately following his treatments when his nasal passages were ‘open,’ he went into the Salt Caves at AcuZen Wellness Center. The Himalayan salt is very beneficial for resolving congestion and respiratory issues. He is enjoying what it feels like to be able to breathe again!
What does it take to become one of my favorite patients? Be a good listener. Show up for your recommended Acupuncture treatments. Show up on time! Understand my recommendations are for your benefit. Give it a chance to kick in. Reap the benefits of Holistic Healing. It’s that simple!
Becoming my favorite child? That’s a whole different article, and I’m pretty sure it takes more than just showing up!