The other day one of the doctor visits for my 88 year old mother included seeing the spine doctor who has given D. shoulder injections for the pain caused by deterioration of muscle and presence of rheumatoid arthritis.  Weythi hadn’t seen Dr. M. since she suggested we go to ER the day before Thanksgiving.  D’s pulse rate was very high when we got to the doctor’s office.

Now Dr. M had on a face mask and her voice was almost gone from the laryngitis.  She looked extra tiny and frail with a mask.  As the consultation went on and I had to “translate” meaning say again what the doctor said so that D could hear it, it became apparent that D was not going to receive a pain injection on this visit.  Now we would need the cardiologist’s approval to be off blood thinners for x amount of days.  And besides, explained Dr. M, there is a limit to the amount of steroids one can inject over the course of x number of months.

As this news sank in with D, sitting next to me, her thin arms hunched in, her chest caved and when her chin dropped she muttered, “So, I’m not getting anything for this pain?”  And she began to cry.  Shoulder heaving sobs and tears poured down her face.  The doctor and I sat quiet.  I put my hand on D’s shoulder and murmured apology.

When D looked up the doctor said there was something else we could try.  What they used on veterans, on soldiers who couldn’t (or didn’t) have pain meds.  She explained the simple procedure of ear acupuncture with tiny gold needles.  She asked if D wanted to try.

“I’m willing to try anything,” D snuffled.  Dr. M brightened up and explained that this procedure is what she did her research in.

After placing several gold pins in D’s right ear, Dr. M asked how her pain level was now.  D replied that it was a little better, so they did the other side.

I saw D’s face scrunch up and wince with the discomfort of needles going into sensitive places in her ear.  But, after it was done as she stood there she said that her pain level was better.


I made arrangements for next month’s visit and took D home, relieved that this procedure seemed to help.  In the afternoon mom confirmed it had.

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