If you told me twenty years ago that I would be an acupuncturist, I would have laughed. I was on track to earn my PhD in biochemistry from Emory University, coming from a strong background in both immunology and biology. But life is rarely ever so simple. The more work I did toward my PhD, the more I realized that my heart wasn’t really in research. After quitting my PhD study, I went to study computer science. After earning a master’s degree in computer science, I worked as a software engineer at a big IT firm for twelve years.
NCCAOM certified, licensed in Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC.
As one might expect, my job at IT involved working with computers, spending hours typing with my hands cramped in the same position without rest. I inevitably developed carpal tunnel syndrome, along with strain in my back and shoulders.
The pain eventually became crippling. It was so severe that I had trouble to perform daily functions such as driving or grocery shopping, and it began to interfere with my sleeping patterns as well. Nothing helped – neither doctors nor physical therapists could help ease the constant agony I had to endure.
Then one day my sister suggested that I try acupuncture. “Why not?” I said, desperate at that point for any sort of relief. I made an appointment with acupuncturists from Beijing, a decision that altered the course of my life in a way I could never have predicted. Here, at last, was an occupation that allowed me to pursue what I had always been searching for in a job – the satisfaction in guiding people to realize the full benefits of health and well being. I had found it in the most unlikely of places – truly, a blessing in disguise.
Not only did the acupuncture treatments alleviate my pain, but they also solved my sleeping troubles and the stress I had experienced as a result of the entire ordeal. It seemed only natural that I become my acupuncturist's apprentice and eventually begin my full-time practice.
The detours I took on the path to becoming an acupuncturist have, in fact, proved invaluable to my practice. My substantial studies in biology, biochemistry, and immunology built a scientific foundation in my approach to acupuncture, which I have supplemented with years of study in researching original Chinese texts of acupuncture, as well as the writing of prominent contemporary practitioners of the field from Beijing and Taiwan. Working with clients at IT firm gave me the necessary interpersonal skills needed for understanding the background and circumstances of my patients, and even my own personal injuries have given me a level of empathy in understanding the situations of each person who comes to me for help.
Perhaps the most gratifying part of working as an acupuncturist is the connections I make with my patients. Many of them are in a similar situation as I had once found myself in, a state of despair and hopelessness, and there is nothing quite like sharing the relief that I also felt through treatments with my patients.