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How talking is one of the best outcomes of an acupuncture treatment

I have been treating my patients with acupuncture for over 10 years and the most surprising outcome was that it opened communication with my clients more than any other treatment. Not only do my patients experience wonderful responses to treatments, they are happy to see me and feel better, but they benefit greatly from the frequent discussion between their owners and their vet.

Acupuncture appointments last between 30 and 40 minutes. For the first 5 to 10 minutes I am catching up on how my patient has been progressing and allowing my patient time to settle into to my presence. The acupuncture session begins with a flourish of yummy treats to distract them from the needle placements. It takes between 3 and 5 minutes for the required acupuncture needles to be placed.

Once the needles are in location it is time to get down to business. The needles stay in for 20 minutes and this is when the chatting begins. We talk about all sorts of things from family to friends to pets to TV to holidays and more. At times the conversations are light and hilarious, and at other times they are much more solemn. We learn about each other’s lives, celebrate victories and commiserate losses.

However, mixed in amongst the chatter we have discussions about the conditions we are treating, end of life conversations, discuss our concerns, build trust and curate a safe place to express our fears. We jump on problems as they arise and pre-empt the next challenge we may face.

As we chat, I answer questions. Some questions may not have triggered a vet consult, but the answers make a difference to their pets’ day to day life. We talk about other pets and if they need to be seen. I help to advocate for the patients in my care and their siblings at home.

For my patients closer to the end of their lives we talk about how we will know it is time and what will trigger us into making the euthanasia decision. We talk about the pressures we feel to know when the time is right. We talk about the guilt in not being able to cure their disease and how we know if we are doing enough. We talk about what their last day may look like and can be more prepared to say goodbye. We make a plan. I help to alleviate some of the fear around the end of life processes.

Most importantly we celebrate their lives. I listen and learn about what my gorgeous geriatrics were like in their youth. We laugh at their quirks and focus on them being more than their disease. We share fur baby photos and embarrassing pet moments. We become good friends.

So, whilst the aim of acupuncture is to make the pet feel better, the next biggest goal is to open communication between their owner and their veterinarian so that we can provide better collaborative care. I find my acupuncture patients have better quality of life, struggle less and have families better equipped to deal with making end of life decisions. I won’t stop chatting any time soon!

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