Turning Point

A string of bells jingled when we opened the door, announcing our arrival.

My heart raced, and my stomach tightened, and I wondered if it was too late to cancel. I was about to receive my first acupuncture treatment with Mary-Margaret Roseberry. The idea of getting poked with a bunch of needles was terrifying, but I was willing to give it a try if there was a chance it could help me feel better.

As Mom and I entered the waiting room, we were welcomed by a shaggy white sheepdog. The room was warm and inviting, with thriving plants and a water fountain bubbling in the corner. Something about that moment felt so safe and comfortable that I dropped to the floor and cried while the dog invited me to rub her belly.

Shortly after, Mary-Margaret came out of her office to greet us. She had a strong, grounded presence, with long, curly gray hair flowing over her white lab coat. She didn’t seem fazed by my tears. Instead, she just smiled and invited me into a small, sunlit room.

Mary-Margaret already knew a lot about me from the form I completed a few days earlier. It included in-depth questions about my physical symptoms, but also my hobbies, interests, and even my beliefs about healing. Not one doctor had ever asked me anything about my personal life before, let alone my spiritual beliefs.

We talked for quite a while. I told her I’d gained six pounds since I started the enzyme supplements three months ago, but I still felt nauseous and weak, and I always seemed to be fighting something. I even told her about the night I “surrendered” and how grateful I felt to be alive. And that I truly believed I could heal and be well. I just needed a little help.

As I shared my story, I could tell Mary-Margaret was taking in much more than my words. I felt seen and understood in a way that I’d never experienced before.

A hidden layer

When we were finished talking, Mary-Margaret gestured towards the massage table next to us, which was draped in sheets and a blanket. She invited me to make myself comfortable and told me she’d be back in a moment to begin the acupuncture treatment.

I waited anxiously under the covers, wondering if the needles would hurt or make me feel sick. I’d had countless vials of blood drawn over the last four years, but I never got used to it. It would usually take several failed attempts before they’d have to call in the most skilled phlebotomist to find my tiny, elusive veins. I felt faint just thinking about it.

When Mary-Marget returned, she checked my pulse on both wrists, slowly adjusting the pressure as if she were feeling for much more than my heartbeat. With the same careful attention, she pressed along my ankle until she came to a specific point. I closed my eyes and held my breath as she gently tapped an acupuncture needle into the spot.

To my surprise (and great relief), I barely felt a thing!

Mary-Margeret continued placing needles along my legs and arms, and I began to feel strange sensations. Sometimes, it was like electricity moving through my body, like a little zing or a tingly feeling. Other times, it was more like a dull ache, but it wasn’t painful. I told her what I was feeling, and she explained that this was “Qi” or energy, and acupuncture helps it move more smoothly and come back into balance.

When she was finished inserting the needles, she placed a small brass bell next to my hand and said if I needed anything, just ring the bell, and she’d be right back in. This eased my mind as she closed the door behind her.

I continued following the sensations throughout my body, including areas where there were no needles. At one point, I noticed a pressure building in my belly, almost like something was trying to move but couldn’t. The sensation intensified, and I started feeling queasy and nervous. I thought about ringing the bell, but instead, I decided to wait a little longer to see what would happen. Soon, the pressure dispersed, and a wave of lightness and warmth washed over me. Moments later, I drifted off into a peaceful half-sleep.

When Mary-Margaret returned at the end of the session, I felt relaxed, energized, and even hungry! I was also in awe of what I just experienced. It was like discovering another layer of myself that I didn’t know existed. And I couldn’t wait to come back.

Fertile Ground

I continued receiving acupuncture weekly with Mary-Margaret, and after every treatment, I felt a little stronger. But it wasn’t just the needles that were helping me feel better.

During each session, Mary-Margaret shared a few words of wisdom about healing from a Chinese medical perspective. One of the most memorable moments was when she talked about the “Earth Element” and its connection to nourishment and digesting food and life. I didn’t know anything about Chinese medicine, but something about this just made sense.

Mary-Margaret also explained how we all need different things to be healthy and happy. And these needs can change depending on the season, our age, health, and so on. Our goal was to get to the root of my symptoms and support my unique constitution—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This lesson not only helped me better understand my own healing process but also shaped the way I viewed nutrition and nourishment.

I still had a long way to go before my dream of becoming a nutritionist would come to fruition, but a seed had been planted.

Over the next three months, I became strong enough to drive myself to my acupuncture appointments and shop for most of my own groceries. I was even able to walk to class from the main parking lot most days.

But the biggest leap was yet to come.

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Hey there.

This post is part of a series called “Peeling the Onion” about my adventures healing from life-threatening digestive issues.

To view the full story, click here.