She could hardly move, but her daughter and I managed to prop her up sufficiently for me to put needles in the three upper series of points for the AE drain (Lung, Heart Protector and Heart), where a great deal of Aggressive Energy appeared as angry red circles around all six needles. I could only hope that there was no further AE on points lower down the back which I could not reach. As the AE drained, I was amazed to see that the patient’s initially very burnt-looking back caused by so much radiotherapy treatment gradually lots its angry red and returned to a good, clear skin colour. After this, I cleared a Husband/Wife block, and ended with Earth source points.
When I had finished the treatment, the patient looked much more peaceful and less distressed. I tucked her up with a kiss, and went downstairs, leaving her daughter to sit with her. About half-an-hour later, to my surprise, my friend walked into the kitchen where I was sitting with the rest of the family, saying, “Mum is coming downstairs behind me.” She told me that her mother had not been able to stand on her own for the past few weeks, but now felt strong enough to join us. My friend said that this was also the first time that she had seen her mother smile for a long time. And there was her mother slowly walking towards us.
I continued to treat the patient, and from that point onwards until her death six months later her spirit never faltered, even though it was obvious to all that she had not many more months to live. This was a very moving experience for me, because it showed me so clearly that my acupuncture treatment could help a patient cope so much better even with a life-threatening disease and even in the last few months of life.
The second instance of what I learnt from treating a very ill patient occurred at much the same time, when I was asked to go to hospital to treat a man who had just suffered a very severe stroke. Again the patient was too ill to talk, but I did the best I could to make a diagnosis with all my senses on full alert. He had been propped up in a wheelchair, so I was able to take his pulses, but he could not be moved sufficiently for me to do an AE drain. Those were the days when the thorough early training I had received had inculcated into me a rigid adherence to taking all the preliminary steps we had to take before the first treatment. Even in such a serious case, I thought that I should do the Akabane test, particularly as I thought this might show some significant readings because there had been such a severe left-sided stroke.
Carrying out the Akabane test was not easy, although easier on the hands than on the feet which were on the footrest of his wheelchair. By dint of kneeling on the floor I managed to do the reading on all the meridians, but when correcting the block had to be careful to make sure that the lighted moxa stick did not burn my patient, because he only nodded slightly or blinked an eye to show me when he felt the heat. To my surprise every single Akabane reading was out, with excess readings all on one side and almost no reaction at all on the other side. I assumed that this was the effect of the stroke. So I set about correcting them as best as I could, remembering that we were told that often correcting just one meridian’s imbalance would be likely to correct any others that were out of balance. And this is what happened. By this time I thought that he might well be Metal (from the strong Metal smell and his colour), so decided to correct the Lung and Large Intestine Akabanes first, to offer immediate help to his Metal element in this way. After having done this, I re-checked the other Akabane readings, and found that they had indeed returned almost to normal, with much less discrepancy between the two sides. I also corrected a Husband/Wife imbalance I found, something I imagine may often be the result of a severe stroke (the Heart under attack), and I completed the treatment with the Metal source points. When I had finished I was delighted when my patient suddenly said, “I feel better now”. When I had first seen him, I had thought he was very close to death. Now I no longer felt this.
The treatments of these two patients confirmed for me the simplicity of the five element protocols I had been taught. It was good see how the elements responded so powerfully to the simplest of treatments, and confirmed for me what JR Worsley had often emphasized, that to treat an element it would be enough to needle its source points again and again, and we would achieve the same results “only perhaps it would take just a little longer” than if we moved on to more complex element points.
What I learned from these two treatments also convinced me that the urgency of helping a very sick patient feeds some power with us, which can raise what we do to another level. I did not think it was a coincidence that I had somehow been led to home in on the right elements and choose the right treatments. The words, a practitioner’s intention, are bandied about rather too blithely, but I do think that if we are focussing all our attention upon trying to help somebody, our heightened senses may well be guiding us to select the right treatment. At least this is what I have learned.
This also reminds me of the time when a young practitioner friend of mine told me sadly, “I use the same points as you do, but I don’t seem to get the same results.” I puzzled about this for a time, but eventually realised that he and I had a very different approach to our practice. I was totally convinced of the power of what five element acupuncture could achieve. He doubted it, and eventually moved on to practising another kind of more physically based acupuncture. His doubts must have conveyed themselves to the treatment he was giving, whereas I came to realise my absolute conviction added power to the treatments I gave. This was another of those profound lessons my practice taught me which have have stayed with me to support me over the years.