How I became an Acupuncturist
An often asked question, “how did you become an acupuncturist”?
Grab a snack. It’s a long story!
My own health concerns lead me down a long path in search of natural remedies with great emphasis on prevention. Discovering acupuncture and herbal medicine opened my eyes to a whole new world of healing and promoting wellness. I found the principles and philosophy’s underlying these healing modalities not only to be a way of practicing medicine but a way of living.
As a teenager my health concerns regarding low back pain, allergies, and chronic sinus infections were troubling. At one point, in my senior year of high school, I was using crutches to get around because of a debilitating knee problem. I found the conventional medical procedures at the time to be disappointing. These health concerns left me with feelings of helplessness. I became driven to find my own answers.
I studied and experimented with changes in my diet. I also became a student of Tai Chi (Taijiquan) and Chi Kung (Qigong). Through my 20’s, as I made changes, I began to learn more. I noticed less sinus infections and a decrease in allergy symptoms. My back and knee pain decreased as well. These diet changes were difficult especially during family gatherings such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. I became a bit isolated in such gatherings but I knew these changes were helpful. In retrospect I have found choosing a different path from the ordinary has proven to be a benefit. My efforts were not to rebel or be different but to be myself and find my own natural path.
There was an abundance of self-discovery and self-awareness over the years. There were also many teachers who guided me. There is one person in my life that seemed to come out of nowhere who has greatly influenced my choices more than once. An old friend Dan Gonzales, also an Acupuncturist, influenced me in beginning my studies in Tai Chi and Acupuncture. Dan and I worked together in the corporate world. He had been expressing interest in leaving to study acupuncture for several years.
At that time, I did explore acupuncture and received treatments that were beneficial but I had no interest in becoming an acupuncturist or so I thought. Truthfully, I didn’t understand what it was all about.
Dan told me about a college in Hawai’i called Tai Hsuan (n.k.a. World Medicine Institute) that teaches Traditional Chinese Medicine including Acupuncture and Chi Kung. The key word is traditional. I always found myself digging into the past in search of things with deep traditional roots. Traditional things of old seemed to me to have more meaning, more truth.
After falling in love with this college, all these thoughts flooded into my head about the coming changes I would need to make. I realized I needed to talked with my wife Jackie about my career change and the idea of moving to Hawai’i. Can you feel the heavy weight of this decision coming on?
Let me back up a little. Jackie and I had been married for about 3 years. We had this 5 year plan to wait before having children. I though at first she wouldn’t go for the change but she said yes! We had our honeymoon previously in Maui. We both thought how romantic it would be to go back to Hawai’i and live there and so we did it. We sold the house. We sold the cars. We packed away unneeded stuff into storage like my collection of 15 guitars and such and we flew out to Honolulu, Hawai’i. We arrived with a suitcase in each hand and a rent-a-car and hotel stay for 1 week until we found an apartment! Crazy right? But it all came together like it was meant to be.
I spent several years in Hawai’i learning Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine before returning to Rhode Island. People ask, “why did you come back to Rhode Island from Hawai’i?” Well, that’s a story for another time.
When we returned from Hawai’i in January of 2005 we were starting all over again in the cold dead of winter. I needed to find clinic space and set up my practice. A daunting task! I had the good fortune of knowing Amy Sundstrom. She did massage therapy and had a place on Sandy Bottom Road in Coventry. She was gracious enough to get me started and I will always appreciate her for that!
Update: It’s 2016: I’ve been in practice for 11 plus years now and I’m still loving it. Jackie and I now live in Coventry, RI with 2 new additions to our family – our lovely daughters, Isabella (almost 8) and Valentina (3.5). I have a busy practice, I love my patients and I love acupuncture![box]And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it![/box]