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Amy's Story --Part Two

 

The Details:

"On September 18, 1989, My right leg and right foot felt like they were on fire, swollen and red-colored. Seven days later, the affected area became tender to touch with a burning sensation." Amy recalled.

Amy had a bone scan which indicated she had muscular dystrophy. She then had steroid injections, physical therapies, but no improvement, according to Mary, Amy's mother, an RN in a local hospital. A bone scan is a nuclear imaging test. It helps diagnose and track several types of bone disease, including bone cancer. It is necessary if you have unexplained skeletal pain, bone infection, or a bone injury that can't show on a standard X-ray.

According to NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "All forms of muscular dystrophy grow worse as the person's muscles get weaker. Most patients eventually lose the ability to walk. There is no cure for muscular dystrophy. Physical and speech therapy, orthopedic devices, surgery, and medications can help with the symptoms and prevent complications."

Dropping out of school was the only choice left for this ambitious young woman. She returned home for help but soon was admitted to Southern Illinois University School of Medicine SIU and treated with a constant intrathecal drip for five days. Intrathecal administration is injecting drugs into the spinal canal. It reaches the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and is useful in spinal anesthesia, chemotherapy, or pain management applications. This route is also used to introduce drugs that fight certain infections, particularly post-neurosurgical. The medication needs to go through the blood-brain barrier. The same drug given orally must enter the bloodstream and may not be able to pass out and into the brain, according to Wikipedia.

It worked.

Amy felt so much better, walked well, and resumed her school life in January 1990. Nine months later, however, the same episode started over
again. Back to SIU, applied the same procedures with the same physician who had successfully treated her before. But this time, all efforts ended to no avail. Despaired and exhausted, Amy started walking with crutches, enduring constant burning pain and was very nauseous by taking all the prescribed pain killers. She was losing weight and fell hard into depression.

"I seriously thought of taking all my prescribed pain killers and ending my life," Amy confessed with tears in her eyes.

By February 1991, Amy was admitted to Mayo clinic looking for a miracle cure. Instead of pain killers, Mayo Clinic went a strange road for her healing, which included behavior therapy, consulting, and physical therapy.

Surprisingly, it worked!

"Amy did well at Mayo, returning home fairly healthy until Nov 1992 when everything started over again with the same symptoms occurred as before." Mary recalled, "She had six steroid injections over two months at the Iowa Pain Clinic. She did well, walked again, and was fairly healthy. She went back to school and was an excellent student. And then, again and again, from 1993 to1996 she had multiple episodes." Mary slowly turned her head and looked at her dear daughter, love, and affection filled in her eyes. She gently held Amy's hand as if Amy was still her baby.

"On March 1997, Amy's right knee locked up and her right foot was red and swollen, painful and hot. She had bier block four times at Burlington Medical Center but had no improvement. Bier block is intravenous regional anesthesia. It is an anesthetic technique for surgical — procedures on the body's extremities where a local anesthetic injected intravenously.

On July 1997, her right hand was swollen, red and painful, and Amy had a series of high doses of steroids. One month later, in August, her hands and right foot were red and swollen and tender to touch. She was again limping on her right foot.
From Sep 1997 to Feb 1998, Amy was in constant pain; walking was very difficult. She became addicted to pain medication, especially to narcotics, which often cause serious side effects, such as, nausea and vomiting, constipation, and risk rapture of the intestine. Other side effects experienced included drowsiness, respiratory depression, circulatory compromise, and confusion.

She stayed at home in bed, she couldn't work, didn't go out with her friends, and she spiraled into the world of darkness and depression.

On June 1998, she went back to Mayo Clinic, but this was an unsuccessful trip.

On Sep 1998, she admitted to Rush Rehab Center in Chicago where she was helped with a withdrawal narcotic and was sent back to counseling, with extensive physical therapy. She got better again. Both hands and her right foot were still swollen, but she did start exercising again.

By Nov 2000, her foot problems were spreading to her leg area. She had continued extreme pain." Mary sighed while ending her story.

"Have you got any confirmed diagnosis so far?" I asked Mary while checking on Amy. "Not really," Mary replied.

"What is it?" I wondered. Quickly scanned the database in my head, where I have accumulated over 20 years of clinical experience in both Western medicine and TCM, but I too was baffled and confused. Looked at her, presented an almost perfect physical condition, otherwise.

Erythromelalgia EM?

According to Amy's symptoms, which were more looked like Erythromelalgia, EM. EM is a rare, devastating disorder that typically affects the skin of the feet or hands, or both, and causes visible redness, intense heat, and burning pain. First described in 1878, but so far remains poorly understood. It is estimated to affect about 1 in 100,000 Americans, many of them white women who develop the condition in middle age, although some people are affected as children. Some
scientists say a genetic mutation causes it, and there is no cure for this disorder.

TCM principle —The Holistic method

Good news is that TCM can immediately start Amy’s healing without knowing the Western diagnosis. TCM has its own ways to diagnose illness and followed by a treatment specifically designed for each and every such diagnosis.

In ancient China, there were no such things as microscopes or ultrasound. Chinese doctors had no choice but regarded our body as a whole, a black box. After 5,000 years of struggling in front of the disease, TCM doctors painstakingly honed their diagnosis and treatment skills, established Chinese medicine, and advanced from generation to generation. Chinese medicine is a unique, independent and powerful medical system, especially for chronic diseases. Nowadays, not only in China but also in the world, diagnostic tools of Chinese medicine, such as checking the pulse and tongue and analyzing other aspects of the body as well as its effective treatment methods, have been widely used.

While diagnosing Amy's inner landscape through her pulse and tongue, I surprisedly discovered a different Amy. The presented smiling, calm young woman harbored incredible stresses to herself, so strong that had caused a systematic inflammation, a tornado-like wildfire inside of her body. After all, the body won't be able to function under such a condition. Amy looked at me, anxiously. I slightly squeezed her arms with confidence, smiled back at her.

TCM weapon — Acupuncture

Our body possesses an incredible healing mechanism. In other words, it is designed to protect us and heal itself. That is why we don't feel pains and bites, even if we just swallowed a bunch of junk food. Amy's symptoms only indicated that her fundamental problems were overwhelming that her body could not handle anymore. Thus, her body's healing power was compromised. Acupuncture can directly assist our healing power and force our body returning to its harmony stage through our meridian system.

The Meridian system is a network that covers our entire body. Meridian has three primary functions; 1. It binds our bodies tightly together as an organic and functional whole. 2. It acts as a protective barrier blocking environmental pathogens and intruders. 3. It monitors, neutralizes, and conditions the entire body to its harmony. The effect of acupuncture comes from stimulating meridians.

I performed acupuncture treatment on her, focusing on smoothing her mental stage and reset her entire body's function. It lasted for 40 minutes. Most patients could fall into a deep sleep, relaxed by the waves of ocean music. Meanwhile, I went to Mary to find out more about Amy.
 "Amy is very demanding of herself and often extremely tense. Her periods without oral contraceptives are heavy and associated with a great deal of cramping." Mary recalled. That was the real Amy under my fingertips — the pulse diagnosis.

Amy looked peaceful, relaxed, and happy when she woke up from her treatment. I asked her to stay on the treatment table for a couple of more minutes before getting up and let her family into the room. Just before closing the door behind me, I heard Amy said to them, "I feel so refreshed..."

My services, including consultant, acupuncture, and herbal therapy, are not covered by health insurance. Amy's family, however, eagerly committed a treatment plan I recommended, which consisted of three acupuncture treatments weekly. They seemed not bothered by the 7 hours driving each time from Iowa to Springfield. I told my clinical stuff that, if I could not quickly fix Amy, she might kill me, for I can't stand what she had to go through to come here.

Frustration

Amy had been coming for two months, but her pain and swelling remained the same. In my clinical routine, I have designed a New
Patients Plan for all new patients, which consists of four acupuncture treatments within two weeks. It will allow me to jump-start the healing. It usually gets a great result. But not for Amy. I began to doubt my ability with her.

Instead of giving up, I tried harder and harder. Later, I felt that we were not going anywhere. This case had been haunting my mind, even in my dreams. I finally decided to ask her to stop coming. It was the hardest decision for me to make. Because I don't like to admit failure, and I didn't want to give up on Amy, especially knowing I was the last resort for her. But I had to tell her about my struggles.

"Amy, I am so sorry. I believe I can't help you." When this word came out of my mouth, I could feel my heart was crushing inside me, quickly, I grabbed a nearby table to make myself stood still.

"Oh, Dr. Na, so far you are the only one who has helped me so much. I don't want to stop. Please continue treating me, please." She pleaded anxiously.

"Really? but your symptoms are still the same each time you come." I muddled mixed feelings of happiness and confusion.

"I am not the same; I am feeling much better." Amy firmly confirmed.

Another two months continued, her problems were still the same in my eyes. At this time, I could feel she was killing me; day and night, nothing but Amy and her swollen hands and foot in my mind. I searched online aggressively and read all I could find late at night. Tried harder and harder each time seeing her, nothing seemed to change for better, and finally, I thought, perhaps, it is an incurable disease as everyone was saying.

One day, during her re-evaluation, I asked about her bowel movement. "Oh, I am fine with that part." She tried to ignore the question.

"How fine?" I insisted.

"About once a week." She answered quietly. Boom! That is!


TCM weapon — Chinese Herbal Formula

Immediately, I prescribed two of my advanced herbal formulas, one was #16-1 Intestinal Clean, and the other was #28-1 Pain Reliever. And then, waited, anxiously.

Next time, Amy drove herself ! She came in and stated that all of her symptoms went away within a couple of days taking the herbs. She was pain-free and painkiller free since. I examined her hands and her foot carefully, could not find the swelling, which had been haunting me for four months. Her hands and feet looked beautifully healthy. Tears poured down on my face while giving her the last treatment.

On that same day, I ended Amy's scheduling. She was so worried that things would get worse again, just like before. I insisted on my decision and told her she could always find me if she needs more help.

The very next week, however, without an appointment, Amy came in again. She stood in the hallway, waiting for me, agitated.

"Amy, why are you here?" I was surprised to see her; thought, she might come to pick up some paperwork in the office.

"I am afraid." She murmured.

"Do you have a regular bowel movement?" I asked.

"Yes, every day." She was happy about it.

"Do you have any pain?" I asked while checking on her hands; they looked perfect.

"No, but.." All sudden, she started crying...

"Oh, Amy!" I hugged her tight, whispered, "I will write to you to explain why you shouldn't be worried about the recurrence. Please go home, enjoy your life."

I raised her face in both of my hands, looked into her eyes to make sure she was Okay. I had to say bye-bye to her in short as other patients were waiting. In the same day late at night, I wrote Amy the letter, hope to east her mind as soon as I could.