Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Start all over again...

I came across some images I captured very late at night/early in the morning the week I moved the clinic a little over a year ago. It made me wonder why in the hell I had not blogged the entire existence of South Austin Community Acupuncture. I looked back and my first blog entry was July 21, 2008. We opened for business Nov. 15th, 2006, and by then had already had a dearth of small business experiences to report on. What was I thinking?

Whatever it was, I'll probably look back two years from now and ask myself, why wasn't I tweeting? So, here's some pics of the 'new' clinic from just before opening, a little over a year ago...I like 'em just 'cause they glow, which is what the clinic always looks like to me.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How does acupuncture work? pt. 1

Let me begin by making some general observations about what happens when people get acupuncture.

First of all, for the vast majority of people acupuncture is extremely relaxing. Most people fall asleep. The sleep one experiences with acupuncture also tends to be extraordinarily restful and rejuvinative.

This is not everyone's experience of acupuncture, but it does tend to be the most common. It is as if acupuncture causes the body to shift from a more heightened, 'sympathetic' state, to more of a relaxed, 'parasympathetic' state. I personally think it is in this state that the bodies finds its balance.

So there seems to be this kind of general effect with acupuncture. The only people I've heard dare to say that the effect of acupuncture is general is a group of practitioners who call what they do 'biomedical acupuncture'. While I don't know that I agree with all of what the practitioners of so-called biomedical acupuncture espouse (they are pretty much completely dismissive of traditional Chinese medical theory), I do agree that the effect of acupuncture is in some broad sense general.

I personally don't think saying this diminishes or minimizes acupuncture in any way. I still believe the effects of acupuncture are potentially profound, I just think it has less to do with me and the intricacies of Chinese medical thinking, and more to do with people actually getting acupuncture - and also how responsive to acupuncture a given individual is.

There is a doctor in England named Felix Mann who has a theory that there are people who respond to acupuncture, a group of people who respond extraordinarily well which he has dubbed 'super-responders', and a small set that don't respond.  My experience has been this as well, so this makes sense to me. There are some people who you do the simplest thing to and they get these amazing results, and there are a few who you can try everything on and nothing happens of any significance.

Mostly, people feel better with acupuncture and basic function improves (they sleep better, they poop better, they have greatly mental clarity and are less stressed), and for most conditions acupuncture is helpful to some degree.

OK! So, other than touching on my direct experience that acupuncture tends to provoke some kind of general parasympathetic response that seems to be beneficial to most people, I haven't really touched on how it works have I? To be continued...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Talking about acupuncture

The work of Portland's Working Class Acupuncture (WCA) and the community acupuncture movement that they have spawned raises many important issues and questions about acupuncture.

Five years ago, when I was fresh out of acupuncture school, the issue I saw WCA addressing was that of how to have an acupuncture practice that thrived - very important stuff when you're sitting on 100K in student loans and entering into a profession where largely there are no "jobs" per se. Apparently most acupuncturists make very little money, and many are out of practice within a few years.

Working Class Acupuncture's solution (a new model of doing the business of acupuncture) was and is brilliant. The fundamental premise: charge less/see more people.

By charging less, many more people can first of all actually afford to get acupuncture where before they perhaps could not. But even more importantly, charging less allows people to use acupuncture more realistically and in ways that get better results - i.e., a short course of  frequent treatments for acute scenarios, or long term treatment over the course of potentially months in the case of chronic problems. It also, of course, makes just dropping in when you feel the need more doable.

By seeing more people, from the perspective of the acupuncturist, you get your hands on more bodies and you gain experience rapidly, which makes you a more confident and skilled practitioner. Also, seeing more people means more people spreading the word about your work - which makes growing and sustaining your business happen more easily.

And lastly, there is the paradigm shift that happens when you make using acupuncture realistically something more widely affordable. Namely, acupuncture in this context becomes less about the technical or healing prowess of your acupuncturist, and more simply and directly about the act of getting acupuncture. This is huge.

Chinese medicine is still very alien to many, including many of those who practice the medicine. The culture of the medicine is steeped in antiquity and it's history abounds with lore about miraculous cures. Out of this arises notions about acupuncture and Chinese medicine and how it works that verge on magical thinking, and often the expectation that acupuncture will work in short order where Western medicine has failed. Sometimes it does, and hence the lore of miraculous recoveries. Mostly it takes a lot of doing.

So this brings us to a couple of other topics: How acupuncture works, and what an acupuncturist does...
Next time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The grand experiment continues...

I'm continuing to play with business hours, but only on Thursdays. I originally pushed my start and end times by a couple of hours to make them 12-8 so I could garden, putz around the house, and visit with my 92 year old mother...

Well, noon seems to be rolling around just a little quickly. Also, people tend to be taking advantage of the later hours. So, for now anyway, Thursday hours are 2pm to 8pm.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Doing Community Acupuncture in Austin, Texas

It's Wednesday and today the clinic is open from 10am - 6pm. It's about 3pm, and my third patient of the day is asleep in one of the nine recliners in our treatment room. The other eight are unoccupied. It looks like I'll see oh, maybe six people today.

As a micro-business owner there's always stuff to do, and I'm not complaining or concerned about the continued existence of South Austin Community Acupuncture - not by a long shot. Some days are just slower than others. I am, none the less, seeing in an eight hour day today the number of people I could see in one hour. Makes for a long day, and prompts me to do things like blog. Today's topic: Doing Community Acupuncture in Austin, Texas.

Austin is a funny town. In other cities around the country, community acupuncture clinics are getting mainstream press and news coverage, and in one instance at least - a very nicely produced program on the local PBS station (Tucson). It seems in other places community acupuncture is viewed as a community resource, and something worth writing about. Go figure.

In our 3+ years of existence we have gotten exactly one mention in the press, and frankly the writer kind of missed the point. It was a piece about the newly formed South Lamar IBIZ district, and she managed to mention that you could get a mohawk at Bird's for $15 - but that you could get an acupuncture treatment for that amount was lost on the writer. 

The Community Impact newsletter did a spread on the Ben White corridor a few months back. We were not included. The only business mentioned in our complex: Bender Bar and Grill. No Shree Jee Grocery; no Fitness Unleashed; no passport pace, etc., They listed every business in the Southwood Center, west of us, including the wound and rehab clinic, the dialysis clinic, etc., and even went so far as to list every single business in Westgate Village - which is not even on Ben White!!! I emailed the editor about this. Her reply: Obviously, not everyone could be included, and they were trying to feature businesses people may not know about but that they could use. I was truly amazed. Sounds like we fit that profile, given that we offer a service that could truly benefit just about anyone at rates ordinary people can actually afford, and that we occupy a stretch of Ben White where Ben White is underground. If you need dialysis, I think you're going to know where the dialysis clinic is. Seriously, thanks for the information.

Oh well...Look for us in the upcoming Beauty issue of another local rag. No, I'm not kidding. I'll take my press where I can get it.

Next up, I'll be writing about - you guessed it - acupuncture! My observations some 10,000+ treatments into practice, what I think might be some misconceptions about acupuncture, and how acupuncture might be better utilized...oh, and happiness!

Goodnight Austin, Texas - wherever you are....