Inevitably, in working with patients, I'm always asked the question of why I got involved in the healing arts practice of acupuncture. I'd like to take the time to share my story with you. For me, there is a personal connection to the medicine that drove me to want to practice and give back as much as I could by what I learned through my own personal health crisis.
In 1995, I was in college not taking very good care of my health, physically, or emotionally. I was unaware or, didn't really care, about physical and emotional health. During the summer of that year, I contracted mononucleosis/Epstein Barr virus but was unaware of it at the time. I was suffering from fatigue, mental brain fog, and a palpable dizziness / disconnected feeling that was present every day. My diet was poor, my lifestyle was not healthy. Being young, I had an invincibility mindset. I thought I could stay up late, eat whatever I wanted, drink whatever I wanted, and I would be able to recover easily. I quickly discovered in my early 20's that I was not invincible. Today I've seen patients in their early 20’s who have come to this very same conclusion.
For 3 months in the fall of 1995, I was in a state of fatigue, difficult thinking, and dizziness that affected me daily. It did not matter how much I slept or exercised, I could not shake it. I returned home from college and sought help from a practitioner in Ormond Beach named Gayle Fuqua. Gayle was my optometrist and a licensed acupuncture physician as well as a homeopathic physician. I mainly went to the visit to have my eyes checked to make sure it wasn't just a visual issue, which it was not. I briefly explained to her what symptoms I was having, and she prescribed several herbal and nutritional products to address my condition. I knew at that point I needed to try something different. So, I took the herbs and went back to college a few days later.
For the next 3 weeks, I diligently took the herbs she prescribed and, much to my surprise, my symptoms abated. I was shocked, impressed, and quite ecstatic considering the symptoms had been with me every day for the previous 3 months. Being young and dumb, I didn't take that lesson to heart and my lifestyle didn't change. After a hard week of partying, the symptoms came back. I continued to stay on the supplements and 4 weeks later, the symptoms went away. From that experience alone I was hooked on "alternative" medicine.
About a year later, in the fall of 1996, I suffered a case of severe food poisoning that significantly affected my health, bringing chronic digestive, skin, and immune problems as a result. This time, healing wouldn't come so quickly. Over the next few months, and years, I began a journey to regaining my health, changing my diet, working on my attitude and spiritual walk, and using various forms of healing, including acupuncture. I began seeking acupuncture treatment here in Gainesville, when I returned home for the summer in 1996. When I went back to school in the fall I continued acupuncture treatments. I felt and knew, that those treatments kept me going and helped me to graduate from school.
During the fall semester, I began to explore Chinese medicine. I read the book Between Heaven and Earth, A Guide to Chinese Medicine by Harriet Beinfield & Efrem Korngold. I also read stories of people with all kinds of health conditions that were helped by acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. I started to understand some of the simplicity, and common sense, that permeated through the medicine. I became extremely interested in this instrument of healing that was helping to change my life for the better.
Upon graduating from college, I returned to Florida not sure what to do with my life. Because of everything I had just gone through, I knew I was interested in pursuing health and alternative medicine. I began my career working in a health food store. My experience there was enough to be the impetus that lead me into a career in acupuncture and natural medicine. After several years of working in the health food industry, I decided I wanted more medicine and less retail. So, I enrolled at the Dragon Rises College of Oriental Medicine in the Fall of 2004 and graduated 3 years later with a master’s degree in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine and a Bachelors in Health Science.
During my time in school, I became a much bigger believer, and proponent, of acupuncture than I had previously as a patient. I originally entered school because of the great interest I had in diet and herbal medicine, even though I had good experience with acupuncture.
A much greater appreciation for acupuncture developed during my time as a student. This was initially due to the excellent results with pain-relief I saw my wife experience with treatments for her menstrual cramps. Later, in school, I was treated for an old shoulder injury I had experienced in college that had previously been treated with chiropractic and physical therapy. After just one acupuncture treatment, my pain was nearly gone. It was impressive that shoulder pain I had for 10 years was largely gone after one treatment, never to return with the same kind of pain and restriction. With that, and during my clinical time in college, I saw acupuncture, cupping, and guasha, significantly help improve the quality of people's lives.
For me, this journey is a personal one. I do what I do because of my experiences and because the simplicity and beauty of Chinese medicine makes sense to me. It's logical, it's detailed, it's flexible, and it looks at everyone and the environment they live in. It is holistic in its approach in that it looks at the "whole". I do what I do because I truly enjoy serving people, and, I know what it is like to be on the other side of the desk looking for help. I do what I do because I've seen it work. I'm grateful to have an opportunity to help people. I hope you will allow me to be of assistance as you walk through your health journey too.
~Jerrod Fletcher, AP