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Amy's Story -- Part One

A mysterious pain that had taken Amy's life away for 11 years

I met Amy in December 2000 in Springfield Clinic, Springfield, IL. I worked as a traditional Chinese medical doctor, TCM, partnered with a brilliant neurologist Dr. Claude Fortin at Neuroscience Institute in the clinic.

It was a cold and freezing morning; our office was crowded but quiet, a peaceful classical musical filled in the air of our waiting room.

"Dr. Na, a new patient from Iowa in room 3."

Pam, my assistant, walking-talking, whispered at me while putting a patient chart in my hand. I did not get a chance asking her about the patient; she disappeared like a whirlwind at the end of the corridor. As usual, our schedule was tight; Pam oversees our team performance.

From Iowa? Over 300 miles away? It takes at least 3 to 4 hours one way of driving to come here. What for? I wondered. Quickly flipping through pages of her chart before knocking on her door.

Seven people were crowded shoulder by shoulder in the small treatment room; Amy, the patient, her parents, husband, brother, and a couple of her girlfriends. They all appeared tired, looked at me silently. From their eyes, however, I could sense the doubt in their mind —Acupuncture? It sounds stupid. So many doctors had failed with her. What acupuncture can do?

I cheerfully said 'Hi,' with a big smile, friendly.

Amy was beautiful, pleasant, 31-year-old, medium-size build, looked in shape, and relatively healthy. Her both hands and right foot, however, appeared choppy, red, and severe swelled, felt hot and tender to touch. She couldn't put any weight on the foot, limped while walking, that was one of the reasons the whole family and friends came along with her.

"Amy had visited countless doctors, shuttled between hospitals, multiple times in Mayo Clinic, and had done numerous exams, injections, pain killers for the past 11 years to no avail. So far, no one can even diagnose her condition or give her any release, always left, mystified." Mary, Amy's mother, a registered nurse, works at a local hospital in her home town, stated.

"On September 18, 1989," Mary continued, "Amy started experiencing pain around her right lower leg area. Two days later, she could barely walk." This date, 9/18/1989, as if implanted in Mary's head. It was the day Amy, or rather, the whole family started the battle.

"Here we are, Dr. Na, we've heard great stories about you. Please help." Mary added. 

......

Amy came back and forth from Iowa to Springfield, IL, three times a week for four months. Although she felt instant better under TCM care, her symptoms remained the same. Think about it; she had to drive 7 hours each time to come, three times a week for four months. It was not only torture for Amy and her family, but it was more distress for myself as her doctor. Initially, I naively thought only a couple of weeks were needed. But after four months, her hands and the foot still stayed the same. I was frustrated. Every day and night, I could think of nothing but Amy, and her swollen hand and foot. Until one day, I caught the main culprit of her complicated illness.

It was nothing to do with her hands nor her foot. Her symptoms were there simply presenting her internal problems. As soon as I nailed down the root of her suffering, within days, her swelling and pains in her hands and foot cleared up altogether without leaving a trace. Almost 20 years had passed I never see her again. I called Amy's mother Mary from time to time to check on her. Mary wrote me the following words,

"Amy moved to Chicago and has a well-rounded and happy life there. I would say that Amy is as healthy now as she had been since 12-13 years of age. Thank you, Dr. Na!!"