I had acupuncture session #5 yesterday afternoon. This time Dr. Liu put needles in my belly! Craziness. She was talking a lot about how opposite the needs for men and women are. Women need warmth. Men need cold. Women who live in warmer climates live longer. The opposite is true for men. Those pesky monthly cycles? They actually prolong our lives, girls. Because we're continually "cleaning out" our systems. Even diet needs are so different for men and women. Yesterday she mentioned oysters... good for men, bad for women (well, good thing I don't care for them). And she also told me to eat fresh pineapple the day before and the day of ovulation. It's full of enzymes that help an embryo implant. Perhaps this is why the pineapple is the international symbol of welcoming? Ha... maybe.
I'm so, so fascinated by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) right now. I'm finishing up The Infertility Cure (finally) and I'm just eating this stuff up. The doctor who wrote this book incorporates both Chinese and Western methods with her patients, so it in no way dismisses Western medicine. But what's so interesting is how different the approach to wellness is between the two. Western medicine zeroes in on a problem and attacks that problem with a hammer. TCM backs up and looks at the whole body... as in, particular symptoms are the result of an imbalance somewhere. So let's get the body back in balance and the symptoms will go away. TCM is all about balance... Yin and Yang. Like for me, I have a Kidney Yang deficiency (among other things). You can have areas of excess or deficiency in your body, and TCM identifies those areas based on everyday symptoms (crazy stuff like the color of your tongue, or the temperature of your belly, or how sweaty your palms are). And then a combination of herbs, diet changes, and methods such as acupuncture are used to correct those imbalances and restore the body to health.
It's seriously wicked cool and I *wish* it was more embraced over here as a true form of treatment - for whatever ails you. There's so much proven response to it with fertility cases, but TCM can treat so much more. Unfortunately, it's not cheap and most health insurance providers won't cover it. Each acupuncture session I have is $90 and the herbs are more on top of that. That's just not practical for most people, and that sucks. Everything has its place, but I think Western medicine dismisses so many symptoms we all experience as "normal" without a second thought. I was reading about our menstrual cycles, which was so eye-opening. All these symptoms that many of us have before and during our periods that have always been labeled "normal?" Cramping, bloating, breast tenderness, spotting... all that? NOT normal according to TCM. Doesn't mean there's something hugely wrong with you, but there is an imbalance somewhere. Something's off. And how long or short, heavy or light your cycle is says A LOT about what's going on with you. Honestly, it makes you wonder how the hell anyone gets pregnant because so many things have to be in check for a successful pregnancy to take place and stay put. It's amazing - only God, y'all.
So yeah, I'm obviously loving this whole new path we've taken. We've been at it for over 3 weeks now and I already feel like a new person. The diet changes have been tough, but really not so bad overall. As long I can control my meals (i.e. pack my lunch, cook dinner, etc) it's really not that hard. It's on days like today - where the office had lunch catered in - that it's difficult. Deli sandwiches and salads... sounds easy right? Not when you can't eat anything *cold* or any refined carbs. So that leaves out any of the breads and the pasta salad... none of the raw veggies on the sandwiches... I ended up picking a chicken salad sandwich and eating it open-faced. They did have a carrot salad but Lord knows it was full of sugar - oh well. And I grabbed a honkin' huge pickle. Ate only half of it because those suckers are loaded with sodium. So I'm not feeling very full, but whatever. I've got plenty of Moo Goo approved snacks here in my food drawer.
Diet issues aside, it's all worth it. The herbs I'm on have me feeling great. They are all in pill form, but I take 91 pills a day. I seriously have a spreadsheet to keep up with it - it was very overwhelming at first, but now it's nothing. I can't have any caffeine at all, but I truly don't need it. Sure, I sometimes miss the taste and warmth of coffee first thing in the morning, but I certainly don't need the upper. And almost immediately after starting the herbs, I noticed that 2pm slump went away. Those slow afternoons at work where I was like, "Oh geez, I need a diet coke." Not anymore. And with taking 91 freaking pills a day, I by default down a ridiculous amount of water. So I know that helps too. All I drink now is water. At room temperature. I've learned to order "water no ice" whenever out. I asked about hot teas at the doctor yesterday so I think I'll check some of those out. I'm a big fan of hot tea, but just haven't gone there yet. It's got to be decaf, so I'll need to do a little experimenting there.
Overall, I especially feel like my hope for a baby has gotten a big steroid boost. Totally renewed. The fact that we're doing something period makes a big difference, but I truly, truly believe in this method and what it can possibly do for us. It's all about preparing your body for a child and taking care of yourself. We of course don't know if this is our answer, but we certainly hold out great hope for it and are going to give it all we've got. Even if we don't conceive naturally here, we can still incorporate all of this with IUI or IVF. So there's really nothing to lose.
And my greatest revelation so far? Yesterday afternoon a friend forwarded me ultrasound photos. The subject of her email read, "Thought I'd share." In the email, before I opened the attached photos, she said, "And can I ask how you guys are doing?" So I kind of had an idea of what the pic was before I opened it. I'll preface this with saying that my initial reaction to emails with pregnancy or baby news of any kind is usually a huge eye roll. It feels like someone is running me over in a minivan with one of those obnoxious "Baby on Board" stickers. And then backing up and doing it again. Hate them, hate them, hate them. Delete, delete, delete. BUT, when I opened these pics I can honestly say I was genuinely excited for her and immediately showered her with congratulations. It didn't hit me till a few minutes later how unusual that reaction was for me. It's really impossible to communicate that difference with someone who's never struggled with infertility for years. But it is huge. What a sense of peace, really. And this morning I just praised God for that moment - such a huge moment for me. And prayed that it was not a one time thing, but a sign of a renewed attitude with all of this. I know I gripe about my sorry attitude with fertiles sometimes - but you must know how much I hate that I feel that way. So this little email was very enlightening for me personally... I hope it's something I'll continue to see happen. I fully credit my Moo Goo plan. I think it's opened me up some emotionally - like the other day I just burst out into tears and let all this stuff out with the hub. Came out of nowhere! It was like this huge release. Maybe it's just an upswing for the time being, but I'll take it. Time will tell.
Alright, off to down some more herbs...