Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The possibilities are endless and a recliner makes all the difference

I started volunteering here after they had been open for almost a year. I remember there was a one-year anniversary party with a miniature horse and he stepped on my foot pretty righteously as I helped get him into the SUV that was going to take him back to the farm. I knew that was as good a sign as any that this was the right place for me. Wally and Kelly set up a wonderful acupuncture clinic on South Lamar and then Wally kept it running strong mostly by himself, with only me or the occasional volunteer to be around to keep him company and hear him rant.

Fast forward 4 years. Somewhere in the hubbub of last night I gave my 1,000th treatment at South Austin Community Acupuncture. Snap. My mind is still wrapping itself in and around and through those zeroes. That's like 15,000 needles. I remember my first day treating here. I saw 3 people in 8 hours, and I was on top of the world. Then I didn't see anyone the next two days. Awkward. Then I saw 5 people in one day and that felt like the water was just up to my shoulders. Now I see 5 people in a shift and I feel like I should be doing more. I look back now and check up on some of those first patients of mine. Some haven't come back. Some come and see Wally. And some still come and see me at the clinic from time to time. And that's the way it goes here.

Occasionally, patients will ask me how long I've been “doing this.” I try to reassure them (and myself) by telling them that, I've been treating out of here since February but I have been giving treatments in the student clinic at school for three years. But let's give this some perspective: over my time in the student clinic while in acupuncture school, I saw 450 people, or just slightly upwards of that. So in 7 months at SACA, I have treated more than double the number of patients that I saw in 3 years. Some more perspective: Wally and Kelly opened this clinic up in the fall of 2006. In their first seven months (11/06-6/07) they saw just over a 1,000 people combined. Note: Wally now gives about 2,000 treatments in 7 months, so I have a lot to work up to.

I'm not bringing this point up to brag, although I do feel immensely proud and fortunate that I am in this position. I'm bringing it up to show what is possible. I knew almost immediately that community acupuncture clicked with me. Its concepts of affordability and healing with other people instead of in isolation from them, re-invigorated the motivations I had for getting onto this side of the health care equation in the first place. I was just lucky I happened on to the place as soon as I did. I may not practice this way for the rest of my life, but at the moment I can't think of a better way to provide acupuncture to people. So thank you community acupuncture model. Thank you Wally and Kelly for starting the clinic and letting me come in and work here. Thank you patients for coming in. I'm having a great time.