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Musings From a Senior Practitioner

By Felice Dunas, PhD

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What to do When Today Sucks

Have you ever had one of those days when nothing went the way it should have? The patient with migraines got worse instead of better from a treatment similar to one you've effectively used on him before. Perhaps you inadvertently left a needle in that new, anxious, asthmatic patient, which resulted in her worst attack in years followed by a justifiably irate phone call. Then, three checks bounced (one from a new patient who hadn't rescheduled and probably never intended on getting anything other than a freebie from an unsuspecting practitioner) which resulted in your not having enough cash to handle immanent bills. This was sort of okay because your bill paying assistant went home early after filling the office with her feverish coughing and sneezing to the complaint of patients in the waiting room. Maybe the Internet went down or the fire alarm went off or you got no sleep the night before because you got a stomach flu, or, more likely, your kid did. Maybe, to top it all off, you heard... "You like sticking needles in people because it hurts. You like to inflict pain on people, don't you?" I once heard that from two patients on the same day and they were the only two that hadn't canceled.

Well, if you haven't yet had a day like these, be forewarned, they happen, especially when you are most sincere in your desire to heal and support and nurture those who come to you. You won't be the only acupuncturist gifted with a day from hell. We all get to enjoy them!

I remember a Monday on which I saw both partners of a couple during different appointment slots. He spent his time expressing his anger at how I dare dress so provocatively (he had x-ray eyes that could see under my full length, long sleeved, always buttoned lab coat) and she spent the time crying about her boyfriend wanting me for his lover. That was coupled with water leakage from a pipe upstairs that closed down one of my treatment rooms, my daughter throwing up at school and a severe ankle twist from chasing down a patient's unwelcomed dog in the clinic. "No, I hadn't noticed the sign that said no animals," she innocently apologized as I winced with ice on my foot. That was also a day when the FDA declared that several of our important herbs were no longer legal to prescribe and interest rates on my credit card went up because I was late in getting a payment in. Oh, did I mention the prescription drug addict patient who was so stoned that he got up with more than 30 needles in him and walked around my clinic screaming, clad entirely in a blue gown (yes, it was open in the back). I stopped him mid-hallway and yanked out needles before they broke under his skin. Yep, that as all on the same day. And it was a Monday! Aghhhh, that day sucked! So, what should you do when today sucks?

stressed out - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Get Philosophical

The polarities of life, the yin/yang forces, draw challenge, insanity and misunderstanding as well as blessings and people whose lives we can truly transform. As a professional communicator (public speaker) who prides herself on being articulate, and an acupuncturist who takes great care in counseling her patients, I have had several ugly incidences because I was completely misunderstood. I have spent 30 years teaching in dozens of countries and 45 years working with patients. But, I am still interpreted as meaning things that are in direct opposition to what I am saying to ill effect. Sometimes the universe laughs at our efforts and we have to just go with it. We must bow to the essence of Yin and Yang, and to the twists and turns inherent in the round shape of that symbol.

Get Self Nurturing

How can you keep yourself together in the middle of all this craziness? Put your head down on your desk and close your eyes for five minutes. Honestly, it's fine to take five minutes. Nobody is going to die. And it just might stop the madness. Put essential oils on your forehead, step outside and do some deep breathing or walk to the corner, listen to four minutes of music that absorbs into your soul. Take your shoes off and walk on a broomstick to stimulate the chi in your feet, call a friend or lover and complain. Use technology and complain over voice mail. You have to get it all out really fast because the recording is short. But, it works! You will feel better. Get on the yin side of the energetic dynamic of life somehow! Find a safe way to receive energy so you can cope with the strange magnetic forces guiding your day.

Get Honest

Did you make a mistake that you aren't admitting to that helped cause the mess? Maybe you are you stretched too thin and unable to keep it all together so life is giving you a "day from hell" to point that out. Are you being arrogant or argumentative and getting slapped in the face by crazy circumstances so you change your attitude? Or are you just in the path of life doing what it does? If there is something you can do, or take responsibility for, so as to catch Murphy before his law (as in Murphy's law in which everything that can go wrong does go wrong) gets you, do it!

Let Go of What Isn't Yours

The couple that both spent their treatment slots talking about me may have taken up a chunk of my day but my big, long, opaque lab coat and I didn't have anything to do with it. I just let that one run off my back. He was using me as an excuse to leave his girlfriend. She had to face that her man wasn't interested. My only job was to tell him it would be best if he found an acupuncturist with whom he could have a simpler rapport.

Share the Suckiness

Commiserating can be the best medicine. If you don't have a network of colleagues that you can reach out to, get one. Join a chat group, attend some acupuncture college alumni events, contact people you went to school with or make a point of meeting peers at local CEU courses. Maybe the best thing that can come from your reading this article is that you realize you are not alone and that you need to reach out so when "days that suck" happen you have someone to lean on.

When all else fails, eat chocolate (we thank heaven for heart yang tonics), find something to laugh about and go to bed early. Thank the Tao, tomorrow is another day.

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