A young woman came to my office last week, troubled by dreams of being in the emergency room. She has a rare form of hemophilia, most of the time dormant. However, under extreme duress or stress, it is activated and her blood won't clot.
She was thrown from her horse several months ago, and that incident sent her to the emergency room with a severe concussion and also triggered her hemophilia. She had been given clotting factor drugs, and sent home, apparently suffering only the effects of the concussion.
On this recent visit, in addition to the strange and troubling dreams she was having, she felt exhausted and slightly sick. She had the flu a few weeks before and never quite recovered. She reported being extremely short-tempered with her family and her boyfriend, and was having trouble concentrating on schoolwork. She felt that something was really wrong.
I have known this young woman since she was in elementary school. I have seen her regularly over the years. Sometimes she has been sick or stressed, but most of the time, she has been healthy. I have felt her pulses when she was run down and exhausted, with weak, forceless, and empty pulses. On this visit, her pulses were extremely depleted and also had a chaotic nature that I had not felt on her before. I began to suspect that she was in the hemophilic state and that if she had even a small accident, she would not clot.
It would be easy to believe that this was a dangerous and troubling situation, representing a turn for the worse in her health, and that we should all be very worried. On the contrary, I believe it marked a turning point in her health and portends better health and less worry in the future. It may actually be a wonderful development and cause for great celebration.
I suspected that she in the hemophilic state when she visited last week and during the immediately preceding weeks. I think that the dreams of being back in the emergency room were occurring because she recognized the similarity between how she felt then, and how she was feeling now. This is helpful because, knowing she is vulnerable, she can choose appropriate behavior. Together, we decided that activities such as riding her horse were probably not a great idea just then.
One of the benefits of acupuncture treatment is improved understanding of our bodies, our health and the relationship between symptoms. Over time, this young woman will recognize earlier what it feels like to be out of balance. She will also learn more and more what steps she can take to bring herself back into balance. It may begin with a step as simple as getting enough rest. This understanding of how to take good care of herself may well be the basis for truly healing this difficult chapter in her life.
Jim Galbiati received his master's degree in acupuncture from the Traditional Acupuncture Institute in Columbia, Md. He has been practicing acupuncture since 1992. He may be contacted at www.jimgalbiati.com.
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