How I Stumbled Upon TCVM

How I Stumbled Upon TCVM

by Marilyn Maler, DVM, Dipl, ACVSMR, Alachua, FL

Author: Chi Institute/Wednesday, January 14, 2015/Categories: TCVM Newsletter, 2014 Winter Issue

Similar to the career adventures of many of my TCVM colleagues, I did not go in search of veterinary acupuncture … it found me. After graduation from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, I accepted a job at a mixed practice hospital in South Florida. Once, one of my favorite clients insisted that I went to her farm to observe an all-day acupuncture/chiropractic clinic provided by an out-of-area veterinarian. This client made it clear that she wanted ME to learn acupuncture and chiropractic so that I could provide her with those services. I had no intention of adding acupuncture or chiropractic to my practice, but I figured I should humor my client and at least show up for a couple of hours.

However, my mind started spinning after I witnessed an acupuncture treatment for anhydrosis that immediately resulted in a puddle of sweat under the horse’s belly!  Part of me wanted to dismiss it as a parlor trick, but I knew these horses and their owners. They had no reasons to dupe me. So, I was forced to accept that even after graduating from the vet school with honors, there was still a whole world of medicine that I knew nothing about. Fortunately, I quickly overcame my paradigm paralysis and signed up for the next available acupuncture class at the Chi Institute. 

The Chi Institute class was small, with less than twenty students, held in the conference room of a Gainesville hotel. I had always been a good student, arriving to class prepared, having studied beyond the required reading. But once in this class, it felt like I was living a nightmare, you know, the type of nightmare where you show up for a final exam after having forgotten to attend classes for the whole semester. During the first session some students were asking Dr. Xie questions, and I did not even understand the question! It was like they were speaking a foreign language. I was panicked and began to doubt that maybe TCVM was not for me. Only until the fourth session, did I find out that those students were taking the class as a refresher and they had been TCVM practitioners for many years.

After the second session, I tentatively started my first acupuncture practice. A client requested acupuncture for her non-sweating horse and I obliged. Having only attended two sessions, I did not know the locations of many acupuncture points. The course notes had pictures for the classical points - so those were the only points I used.  To my surprise, I received a call from the client an hour after the treatment reporting that the mare was sweating profusely. Maybe there was hope for me to be proficient in TCVM? At more than a decade later, even after thousands of acupuncture treatments for anhydrosisat,  that horse is still my most dramatic case for its responsiveness to the treatment.  So was that case simply a beginner’s luck or a sign that I should continue the path I just stumbled upon?  TCVM soon became an important part of my daily practice.

Immediately after completing the Chi Institute basic course, I decided to take time off to study veterinary chiropractic, followed by more TCVM branches such as herbal medicine and Tui-na.  In 2005 I was honored when Dr. Xie asked me to be an Assistant Instructor at the Chi Institute and currently I’m teaching the basic and advanced Acupuncture and Tui-na courses.  Also, as the owner of Sun Spirit Farm & Veterinary Services, Inc. in North Florida, I practice integrative veterinary medicine, specializing in sports medicine and rehabilitation.

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