Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fire Burns Metal

Good news from Dr. Luk, my long time Chinese acupuncturist. On three visits before my atrial fib procedure on November 7, he treated me to 'strengthen' all my internal organs. "They will all be under stress during this procedure," he warned. 
Two weeks after the ablation I saw Dr. Luk again. He looked at my face and observed, "Younger. Your face looks different." He nodded knowingly.
Four weeks after the procedure, I visited him again. I told him an interesting thing was happening. For almost three years, my skin has itched and burned. It's been rough, blotchy and red.  Suddenly, since the heart ablation, it is  becoming smooth again. It does not burn, it rarely itches. No longer do patches of blotchy red appear. 
Each day I feel my skin with amazement. I list the new variables that could be causing this extraordinary change: the ablation procedure, blood thinner, capsules of primrose oil. My eating habits have not changed. My meals are filled with kale, cabbage, meat and fish. There's been no change in blood pressure medication, which is interesting, because I'd suspected that it was playing havoc with my skin. 
So, why indeed, is my skin miraculously returning to 'normal'?
Dr. Luk says (and I am paraphrasing here), "Your heart is better now. In Chinese medicine, the heart is Fire. Skin is Metal. When the heart is not well, it can burn the skin." As always, there is precise logic to Chinese medicine. And one can hardly argue or dismiss several thousand years of medical theory and practice. His explanation makes sense to me.
I've told every doctor I've consulted that the burn on my skin was coming from 'inside'. I simply knew that my skin was not being attacked from an outside source. But I don't believe any western doctor ever factored in this piece of information. Dermatologists told me they see patients with skin conditions like mine every day. They gave me prescriptions for creams and gels, offered Predisone and light treatments.  And I had a couple of steroid shots. Those shots did put itchy burning skin on mute for a while, but it was never a cure.
Only two individuals displayed curiosity about a cause. A highly specialized dermatologist at Baylor College of Medicine suspected that a blood pressure medicine might be the culprit and advised a substitution, but that wasn't the answer. A curious nurse practitioner at McGovern Allergy Clinic did some on-line research. She checked with her doctors, who asked, "Can't we simply treat this patient's symptoms?" 
"No" she answered on my behalf, "She wants to know why." Quite frankly,  I don't think the doctors at this clinic or at UT or Baylor dermatology clinics could have provided the answer I've just gained in this visit with Dr. Luk.
Days later I visited my cardiologist for a check-up. "I think you've cured my skin problem," I said to her and told the Chinese story of Fire and Metal.
"Well," she said, "I don't know if I can take credit for your skin, but it is true that with atrial fib (and I am paraphrasing again) that your heart is not functioning as well as it should. It could affect your skin."
I'm giving her credit.
When I told my naturopath, he was stunned. "I've never heard of anything like this. Amazing."
And so it is. Amazing. 

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