Thursday, November 18, 2010

Flow of Qi...

A couple of glasses of Tempranillo and Malbec transition me from my hectic Thursday in school to my pre-weekend happy hour with a dear friend. I enjoy and appreciate the conversations one can have with like-minded creative types, similar age, and comforting energy. It has been a busy week in the land of graduate school and not sure what it is, but sense I very well might be moving more energy into the positive realm than I think. Essentially enrolled in medical school and progressing my way through a fast track 3 year program that should in actuality take 5 or 6, I am content with my grades thus far, what information I am actually retaining, the ability to memorize so much and recite it back at the drop of a hat. CV 5 Shimen, Lung Channel of Hand Taiyin, Large Intestine 4 Hegu, Abductor Pollicis Longus, Posterior Interosseus Nerve (why can't they just call it the damn radial nerve?). My point is that I feel right... at the current moment at least.

Enjoying the candlelight and perhaps just too hip music in a Southeast bar in Portland with my friend, sipping wine I realized how quickly I am becoming more aware of all the possibilities in life and kicking myself for the past stagnation of not learning German quicker, painting more often or practicing piano as much as I want. The past couple of weeks have been different. There is something in the air. I am motivated, excited, and energetic. I am ok with being 34 and single, the dating, it has been a blessing in disguise... the freedom, the ability to move forward in life with the responsibility of only myself, the spontaneous encounters of passion and the endless paths that are still in front of me. While love and relationships are important, I contemplate what is this 'rush, need and personal validation' so many of us my age are needing to fulfill. It must be the Catholic school. Thanks Mom. We all have options. What an incredibly lucky thing to be able to say.

A lovely friend came into town last weekend, and even though he may not recognize he had done so, he really reignited a desire I have not shared with many to seek out. I want to learn how to fly. Pilot license and all. I put the pieces together and pondered why I have this hidden want. My Grandfather was a pilot in the Korean War, earned a purple heart, saved his crew and perished in action. One of my Uncles is a race car driver and with my background in Tour Management: that is driving van/trailers, having a soft spot for bus drivers and the crew, making things happen, and getting the best sleep of my life in a bunk on a bus, I suppose this travel/transportation bug is in my genes. So... Tour Manager, Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Pilot... fill in the blank to what is next here. I can take some courses in Aviation in the summer perhaps when my other program is not so heavy, and think of it as a long-term goal as Asian Medicine is this main one right now. I do not fancy time lines or schedules, and school has made me follow them, but in the big scheme of things, you have to pursue these dreams even if completion does not occur. This degree I will be completing though.

My classmates and I are almost done with our first quarter of school. It is incredibly exciting and flew by fast. We are forced to make a decision on what bodywork modality we want to specialize in. Few exceptions are made to those who want to take both Shiatsu and Tuina. Taking both is highly discouraged for three-year students and I have decided to enroll in both. So can I juggle all of these aspirations both financially and mentally? Well I think the point in life is to just try, right?

One of the most important characteristics of Chinese Medicine is the integration of mind and body and the fluidity of Qi within. Qi is the vital substance that is stimulated upon needling in Acupuncture. We are born with a limited supply and are able to replenish this Qi throughout our daily lives. When an imbalance occurs whether being deficient or in excess, our body shows symptoms. This is the pathology of Asian Medicine. Yoga, meditation, sexual delight and passion, creativity, emotions, nourishment... are all examples of Qi building and the less stagnation, the better the flow and the easier balance can be achieved. I hope I am just not having a good week and that this transformation is truly occurring within. But one thing is for sure, something inside is moving right along... and methinks moving in the right direction. 

My, my, my, I'm so happy, I'm gonna join the band,
We are gonna dance and sing in celebration, We are in the promised land. 

(Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day)

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I spoke to someone today who has been a huge advocate towards my path in Oriental Medicine. She is a wise doctor and friend. While she was reminding me to keep my wits throughout school, we started sharing thoughts on how interested we have become in specific fields of medicine... she in Oncology and myself in Osteology for example. I have recently become obsessed with the show, 'Bones' (damn you netflix) which is about a forensic anthropologist and FBI agent who solve murders at the Jeffersonian in DC. I accept that this viewing is taking up quite a bit of my time that I should be dedicating to studying, but keep telling myself I am drawn to watch for a reason and it is educational to some extent. I love hearing the anatomical structures exemplified throughout the show such as 'medial humeral epicondyle' and 'distal interphalangeal joint' along with many other body parts that I am in the midst of memorizing and reciting for my living anatomy and other classes. I cannot seem to get over the desire to collect posters of muscular skeletal systems or x-rays and post them on my walls. Better yet, fantasize gathering x-rays from individuals... say an arm (or humerus) from one patient and a femur from another to form one complete skeleton... a skeleton of strangers.

I dislocated my thumb on tour in Germany a few years ago where my friend and client escorted me to a hospital in France where he acted as a translator, beautifully fluent in French that he is. I ended up taking home an x-ray of my hand and have it proudly hanging on my wall. I also had an x-ray in Austria of my knee taken which I sadly never confiscated. Man, that was a rough tour for my bones. What is it about looking inside the human body that I find so fascinating? I suppose it is always coincided with my interest in the unknown, although science is hardly that, considering it is based on evidence and we are actually discovering more and more each day.  I am not sure if it is next quarter or the Spring quarter, but our class will have the obvious requirement and privilege of learning the true anatomy and physiology of the human body by visiting a cadaver. I simply cannot wait for this date with the dead and will show great respect to that soul who dedicated their body to science. My Grandfather was in medical school in Europe to become a doctor when my Mother told me he was standing over the cadaver his first time and fainted. He went on to become a pharmacist and writer. I am certain this will not happen to me, but I am amused every time my Mother shares that story with me. I suppose the interest in medicine for me at this time is that science is something that cannot let me down, bore or otherwise disappoint me. It is irrefutably challenging, completely different and always fascinating.

While I do not know what else I might pursue when I receive my degree in this particular path, I hope I will have the option of taking out a bit more money in loans to satisfy my need for the obvious continued knowledge I am daydreaming about. Perhaps Astrophysicist/Acupuncturist/Anthropologist???  I will have to wait patiently, continue to palpate my radial styloid process along with my navicular or scaphoid bone, remember that Yangxi point : Large Intestine 5 is located in the anatomical snuffbox and realize I have enough information to keep my brain busy for the time being. There will always be time to learn and there is no end all...  just constant transformation. Damn you, yin yang theory.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The wonderful world of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

So here we are in the sixth week of school. The rain is inevitable. The sun has been making way too many appearances this autumn for the NW not to have a chilly winter. Positive thinking at it's finest. Yet, I welcome the climate... makes it very conducive for studying, game nights, bingo, all things Portland which I always seemed to miss out on when on tour.  Things have been just dandy, except for this condition I have been experiencing. The past few weeks, I have been dealing with vertigo, dizzy spells... mostly when I wake up in the morning, or attempt yoga moves that turn my head upside down, or by simply just moving my head too fast. Obviously concerned and admittedly scared, I looked into many sources, naturopaths, acupuncture, western doctors and finally an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist). My self diagnosis (along with Dr. Leah's) of having BPPV was correct and a repositioning maneuver, called the epley maneuver or canolith repositioning was performed on me right there in the office. Nausea inducing in itself, I felt horrible the rest of the day and was told I had to sleep at a 45 degree angle for a few nights and not to exercise, nor any sudden movements for a week that might knock the rocks back out. I implore you to learn something new and read just what BPPV is exactly. It might save you some research should you ever wake up with it one day.

The stress of not knowing what caused this or what exactly was wrong with me led to a bit of melancholy this week, yet it reminded me how no one modality is the end all when it comes to medicine. It also reminded me how much I have to learn and that none of us are invincible.
I do not feel 100% and hope that I do soon. It is a bit boring. Sitting in class staring at power point lecture slides is a challenge at the moment and the overall pressure does not help with having to learn bony landmarks like the lateral epicondyle or relearning phospholipid bilayers along with protein synthesis. The good news is I am retaining the information and although I had moments last week of 'what the hell am I doing again?', I realize it stemmed from the frustration of being ill and losing the rhythm of my routine and just having sensations I would never wish on my worse enemy. I continue to love school and I look forward to learning all that I can about something completely new.

Twas a great lesson though about the inner ear, otoliths, vestibular canals and such in my desperation to figure out what the hell was going on with me. I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to learn so much about this condition. I am not thankful for the 150.00 appointment with the audiologist and another 150.00 to see the doctor and have him spin me around and my ear rocks, but so it goes. At least I was able to test my hearing (probably a very wise investment after working for musicians, including quite possibly the loudest guitar player of all time). Perhaps all the traveling and live music has finally caught up with me and my inner ear and equilibrium will never be the same? Who knows... I just want it to stop. Never liked those spinning tea cup rides anyhow.

Acupuncture treatments and herbs have helped and I find it equally interesting how over the past two days I have learned some of the most powerful acupuncture points for vertigo as well as one of my professors randomly sharing a herb formula for tinnitus and vertigo along with offering to align my axis. Timing... it is interesting.

I feel that this posting is not as fluid, witty or informative as I wish it could be, but again I am just focusing on not falling over these days or floating away. I know people pay good money to ingest substances to feel these sensations, but I am ten years older now... ten years gone.
(yes, long live Zeppelin)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In the beginning...

A couple of years ago, I was drunk off Jameson in a hotel room in Seattle before a show with my good friend, Phil. Whist discussing my hiatus from being a tour manager in the music business to going back to school for my Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, we shook around some ideas, much like the rocks in our whiskey glasses on how I could integrate the business with my new endeavor. Phil cleverly shouted out 'Rockupuncture!' and we both agreed... I was going to rule the world. I owe you Phil. A few days after, I bought the domain name: rockupuncture (.com, .net and .org) from godaddy and do not plan on letting it go anytime soon. It waits for me to graduate like the federal government with my student loans (eventually equating to about 90,000.00) to see what will happen to me over the next three years in grad school and beyond.

I wanted to start a blog a few months ago, you know... the pre-school blog, but I am just four weeks in so this isn't too late of a start. I am sure I will make the background all fancy and such, update the profile, etc... Quite frankly, I could not decide on wordpress or blogspot and honestly does it really matter? I have realized the importance of journaling (due to our research and Qigong classes forcing this upon us... in a good way) and what comes out of it when you start babbling on such as myself. I believe I should have been writing more in the past especially with my travels, but who the hell wants to write down their thoughts when you are living on a bus or in a van with smells no one should have to describe, following a 16 hour day of live music and responsibilities of others, endless transit, let alone having a moment to yourself (the band being on stage does not count)? While I miss these days already, I know they are not gone... just on the back burner... and/or laughing at me.

So enjoy my tales of this and that in regards to school and my journey. Pour yourself a stiff one and let me describe why Lung 5 is called the Tongli Luo Connecting Point or why the liver controls the blood and ensures the smooth and free flow of Qi (chee). Perhaps you fancy an explanation on just why Large Intestine 2 point is located on the radial border of the index finger, in the depression just distal to the metacarpo-phalangeal joint or what the innervation, origin, insertion and action of your teres major is. Well, then stay tuned because I have taken in quite a bit of information and this is only the fourth week of class. I don't know where this is going, but I hope it will be a constant electronic reflection of my thoughts regardless if they make sense to you or not. It shall be interesting and I welcome your company.

'It takes a lot of little nuts to make a jar of peanut butter...' ~ Mr. Rogers Neighborhood excerpt
(when they go to the factories and show you how they make crayons or peanut butter...remember?)

(you were expecting some old, influential Chinese saying weren't you? ... well Zhong Fu!)