Allison Plean: O-pin-ions and needles

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Allison Plean

Allison Plean

Allison Plean's column appears Fridays in the 4 Points arts and entertainment section in the Steamboat Today. Contact her at 871-4204 or e-mail aplean@steamboatpilot.com.

I actually woke myself by my own snoring during a Reiki session once.

Luckily, the treatment works just as well if you are asleep - but it apparently couldn't rectify my embarrassment.

When I was growing up, I don't remember seeing the titles: Reiki master, massage therapist, sound healer or Chinese herbalist on the list of professions I could be when I grew up.

But nowadays, alternate healing has become not only a growing trend, but is also trendy.

So I signed up for my first acupuncture session last week.

Needles never scared me. My sister - who was the captain of every sports team in high school and graduated from the United States Naval Academy - was the one who cried every time she had to get a shot.

So I laid down on the table in this tiny little room and let five-element acupuncturist Betsy Smith become privy to my medical, emotional and family history. Then I let her put seven needles in me.

As soon as she left the room - I panicked.

What if the building caught on fire? The image of myself running down the hall half-naked with needles sticking out of my body was a little unsettling.

I tried to relax, but the posters of the skeletal and muscular depictions of men labeled with meridian lines, stared at me. Maybe I wasn't ready for the infusion of Chinese medicine with my Western mentality.

I grew up in an over-the-counter-Western-medicine family. My mother was like the father in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," with her own version of the bottle of Windex.

Your have a headache - take this. Your throat hurts - suck on this. You can't sleep - swallow this.

I kept my parents busy carpooling me to the emergency room with all my broken bones and all the unpronounceable things I contracted from working with exotic wildlife.

Even the molding of my furthering education brain was built upon a science degree. Everything had to be proven with a hypothesis, experiment and good data to produce cold, hard facts.

"Western medicine is based on scientific evidence," said local general surgeon Mark Hermacinski. "Alternative medicine may say, 'we have good results, but they don't have numbers.'"

I'm an extremely open-minded individual, but the skeptic in me is more prominent than I thought. I've heard amazing stories of people's lives changing due to energy work or alternative practices, but I am not yet convinced.

After visiting the local shaman, Rob Wergin, for three sessions, I didn't notice any dramatic changes in my body. But it did change the way I thought about things.

I can understand how if you truly believe that Wergin is removing the negative energy and blockages from your body, then the mind-body connection can speed up the process of healing.

I know I can be a tough patient - easy to work on, but hard to cure and apparently harder to convince.

I am grateful we live in a time where we have so many options available to us. I could use a few less toothpaste and shampoo brands, but alternatives - such as naturopathic medicine - are nice to have, and I know they work - on other people.

Although no school of medicine has yet found a cure for the common cold, there are some things that will always be cold, hard facts to me.

Ice cream and Otter Pops are the best things for a sore throat, and feeling like somebody is taking care of me will always make me feel better. Whether your practitioner's background is Western or Far East - anyone ultimately can be cured of unwanted symptoms, but maybe I can't fully eradicate my training in skepticism.

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