My friend Amanda showed me the website for the Zhu Acupuncture Clinic the last week I was staying at Fairmont Rehabilitation Hospital. She had been telling me about it for a few weeks, but it was hard for me to digest auditory information alone, always has been, before and after the stroke, but especially after. I think it is essential for loved ones to be aware of how the stroke survivor takes in information and emphasize clear communication. Not bad advice for everyone to practice, really!
Up to this point, I was feeling pretty depressed as the doctors didn’t see much hope in a complete recovery (I had done little more than occasionally wiggle my toe at this point). Returning home to my mother’s house in a wheelchair was the beginning of another new chapter — The Recovery: A Way Out of the Wheelchair. This chapter unfolds gradually, but spoiler alert, there is a happy ending.
Out of the recovery hospital, I was finally able to get a haircut and start shaving — all thanks to Amanda and a beard trimmer (thank God for advances in beard trimmer technology). The next step was making my first appointment at the Zhu clinic of San Jose, CA, 35 miles from Fairmont and less than 55 miles from my home in Berkeley. We called and set our first appointment with Dr. Lu, an acupuncturist and physical therapist, at the clinic. We drove down and rented a room at the Courtyard by Marriott for the first week as we planned to give it a try for a few days before making an assessment.
My first few appointments were a pleasant surprise as Dr. Lu got my foot to straighten out quite a bit. By the time Dr. Moyee (the senior practitioner at the clinic and next in line after Dr. Zhu) took over my treatments a few weeks later — well, you can see for yourself in these before/ after shots!
A few weeks into my appointments, and I am already gripping and throwing the ball. Not ready for the major league, but an improvement from not being to hold anything at all a week ago!
As I mentioned, Dr. Lu got my foot to straighten out — here I am walking with his assistance early on.
After a couple more weeks, my world began to open up. My first steps without the warm embrace of Dr. Lu were scary, but it showed me that walking solo was possible.
Dr. Moyee is quite perceptive and pays meticulous attention to how you’re walking (balance, foot placement, posture, etc.). Assisted by a team of other acupuncturists and aides, she guides your ship safely in.
I’m displaying gang signs with one of the aides named Long after walking up the stairs outside the clinic. He was studying physical therapy and in line to be the next Dr. Lu.
I spent my time recovering more ordinary but useful skills. Here I am placing marbles into a dish one at a time with my disabled right hand – not the most fun exercise but one that pays off with time.
I was a licensed acupuncturist before my stroke and was very interested in their applying the needles to my scalp. Something I performed in many treatments, but not so consistently or radically as the Zhu Clinic.
Approximately ten needless we’re inserted for every treatment. They were manipulated (lifted and thrust back in) for a few minutes, making me ready to perform the desired task, particularly walking.
Many of the acupuncture points used are similar to the standard acupoints I learned in school. A whole system was developed by Dr. Zhu that overlaps with what I had learned, but is particularly relevant to stroke recovery.
All in all, I spent six weeks (4 visits a week) on my first round. By the time I went home, I was beginning to walk and climb stairs, amongst numerous other activities, like picking up small objects, throwing a ball, eating (with my disabled hand/ arm), writing, etc. I would like to end today by saying how much I feel I owe the Zhu Clinic for what they’ve helped me to achieve!