Switching from a general practitioner to a TCVM practitioner, I often get the question, “How did you get into acupuncture or Chinese medicine?” While my story is pretty typical, I believe the most interesting thing about it is that I know it is not just my own story, but it is shared with hundreds of other veterinarians who found belief and faith in TCVM the way I do.
After graduation, I started out as a general practitioner at a private animal hospital. At the time, I really enjoyed being a general practitioner, helping the sick and injured animals. However, I quickly realized that treating the disease rather than the individual patient is where “modern” medicine falls short, especially for treating chronic conditions. I was then introduced to animal acupuncture by my colleague, Dr. Tsai Li-Juan and was astounded and inspired by its wonderful outcomes for a variety of illnesses. Immediately I knew I found my calling.
As I researched more about the theories behind Chinese medicine, I became more and more fascinated with this mysterious, yet time-proven, system of medicine. I was intrigued by its concept of the body as being a reflection of the universe, and as the only way to ultimate healing was treating it as a whole. I started seeing an acupuncturist for my chronic neck and back pain. I was amazed at how well I recovered after each session and everything he could tell me about my body, simply by looking at my tongue, reading my pulses, asking about my life style, mesmerized me. I knew then that this was what I was meant to do. I began studying the theory of TCVM and shadowing acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine with Dr. Tsai.
In 2009, I went to Lanzhou, China for a month to further my TCVM knowledge at the Institute of TCVM, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. I attended advanced studies with lectures on the theory of TCVM and clinical practice of acupuncture, moxibustion and herbal medicine. I spent time at a TCM Hospital observing how acupuncture, moxibustion and tui-na are used in different settings in China. After returning from China, I immediately applied the knowledge into my practice and saw good results of it.
A year later, I was accepted for an internship specialized in acupuncture at the University of Florida Veterinary Medical Center. I was very fortunate to have been able to learn closely from the master of TCVM, Dr. Xie. His influence was the most powerful personal training I had yet experienced in my life. In addition to being able to learn TCVM from him, my greatest gain is that I learned and practiced all of the Arts of Living that he modeled. He is no doubt my hero, my inspiration and my role model. He has my greatest gratitude for the healing skills that I have!
After the internship program, I followed my interest in acupuncture and continued post-graduate study at the UF CVM, where I received my Masters Degree of Veterinary Science in Acupuncture. In 2012, I accepted a position at Louisiana State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital to build the Integrative Medicine program that offers acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals, and nutrition. I then added canine physical rehabilitation as a combination for a very effective treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and neurological problems. Today, our caseload continues to grow, and we receive referrals for almost all of the other services. In addition, we received positive student response when we became an elective rotation for senior students. We now have students from other colleges asking to do rotations and veterinarians wanting to shadow at our Integrative Medicine service. My goals are to educate veterinarians, students and the public about the benefits and usefulness of TCVM, as well as adding research to better understand acupuncture and herbal medicine.
TCVM is a door full of mystery that forces me to delve even deeper into it. In fact, the longer I practice, the less I think I know, and the more I realize there is much to learn. After moving to Baton Rouge, I started seeing an acupuncturist in town for my neck stiffness and pain. Dr. Xia Shou-hua is not only the master of TCM but also is specialized in navel acupuncture. With just a few needles in my navel area, he fixed my neck right away. He also once addressed my hip pain that had been bothering me for months with just needles around the navel. It was almost a year ago and my hip is still pain free. I was fortunate to learn this special technique from Dr. Xia. It is based on I-Ching and Ba-Gua theory, needling points around umbilicus and awaking pre-natal energy for healing and can be applied to all kinds of chronic, complicated diseases. I started using it along with traditional techniques on my patients and I could really tell the difference after treatments. I will continue to learn and I hope to bring this unique technique into TCVM. I think it integrates traditional acupuncture to accelerate the body achieving balance, just like scalp acupuncture.
The reason I got into TCVM and stayed in it is simple: it is a time-tested profound philosophy that reveals itself to the extent that I am willing to stay present and delve deeper into this healing path to not only help heal my animal patients, but myself, my family and friends.