This post is dedicated to the remarkable life and legacy of community member, S.B..
On our intake forms, we ask new patients how they were referred to us simply to see where people are finding out about Long Beach Community Acupuncture (LBCA). It’s always fun to read a familiar name that answers the question. Sometimes people simply write “a friend” and often the name of some social media platform. Recently, a new person had written in the name of one of our patients who died earlier this year. When I read her name in the referral, it made me smile because that patient had a wonderful smile, an infectious laugh, and a life perspective that was unique and uplifting.
It made me glad that I had had the opportunity to treat her during a terminal illness and while I cannot pretend to have known her very well, I know I will never forget her. She brought light to many and when I remembered the network of referrals, a gallery of faces hung in my thoughts. At least three other LBCA patients had all been touched by her life.
When community acupuncturists get together, we often talk about how heart-opening our work is. This is not just an emotional response; it’s visceral, in the solar plexus. I felt that feeling when I first heard about community acupuncture in my last semester of school. I read an article in CJOM (California Journal of Oriental Medicine) by a woman who had opened her community clinic in San Francisco. From the description of her practice, I knew deep down that I just HAD to practice this way--it was a feeling beyond words.
Every business wants word-of-mouth advertising--it’s free and it’s the best. When patients come in, I remember how they got here and remember the ones who have sent in others over and over again. It is a map of connection among friends, family, and community.
I know referrals happen in private practice for people too, but there is really something unique and special about the way community clinics work that facilitate relationships. Often couples come in to nap together and certainly friends do too. Just the other day, a patient came in only to find her boss and boss’s husband sleeping in the chairs next to the one she picked! It was a happy realization.
It is easy to feel isolated in our culture and that’s one of the best things about the community treatment room. You don’t have to nap next to your spouse, lover, co-worker, or friend. It is salutary to know that you are not alone in this world. And it is a beautiful way of remembering others, if they’ve passed on or moved away.
Over and over again, I am filled up by working in this clinic; it keeps my heart wide open to human beings, how complicated we all our, how deep our needs and wounds.