Amanda Platell - Acupuncture for eye problems
Type of spiritual experience
A description of the experience
Daily Mail columnist Amanda Platell has been having acupuncture for years. Here, she explains why she’s convinced it works...
Let's get a few things straight here. You would have to travel far and wide to find a person more sceptical about alternative medicine than I was.
One of my brothers was a pharmacist with a thriving business dispensing drugs, the other is a surgeon and academic. I have countless cousins and in-laws who are doctors and physiotherapists - anything in traditional medicine, we Platells do it.
I have had medics coming out of my ears my entire life. I have also had a series of major operations, some life-saving, where I have relied entirely upon traditional medicine and would not have countenanced anything else.
So when after a particularly gruelling divorce my eye started to play up, I headed straight for my GP, who sent me directly to Harley Street.
In the months that followed, I would come to know that street very well, as I was sent from one eye specialist to another trying to diagnose the incredibly painful condition in my left eye.
I would wake each morning with it feeling sore. By lunchtime, the deep red lines spreading from my pupil resembled Birmingham’s spaghetti junction at peak hour and I could only just see out of it.
By evening, it was weeping and virtually sightless.
Consultant after consultant locked my head in one of those Hannibal Lecter head braces, turned my eyelid inside out with instruments borrowed from the 18th century, wiped the eye, put drops in it, blinded it with light, and yet still they all shook their heads.
As a last resort, I was sent to a hospital for rare tropical eye diseases. The closest anyone came to a diagnosis was to suggest it might be a virus.
Then late one night, as I was lying with my eyes closed on the sofa, my neighbour Jos called - again! She is one of those pesky alternative people with great faith in conventional medicine - when it works - but who also believes homeopathy and acupuncture can work hand in hand with it.
And so eventually, to shut her up, I went to see her acupuncturist.
My motives in going were practical: I’d go once, nothing would happen and then I’d be able to have an evening drink with Jos without her going on about bloody acupuncture.
Adrian, the acupuncturist, took down my medical history and, to be honest, spent more time with me exploring my past than any NHS GP had done in years.
Eventually, he reached for his needles, inserted them in the socket around my left eye - not the eyeball. It felt a bit creepy.
Then he put a few more needles in bits I care not to remember. I’ll not mislead anyone by pretending having needles stuck in your sensitive bits is a pleasant experience. It is not. But it doesn’t actually hurt - indeed, far less than a dentist’s needle.
I lay there for half an hour thinking about what I had to do at work that day, what a cad my husband had been, then got up and left for the office.
The next day, my eye felt better. Not healed, but less painful. I had two sessions a week for the next few weeks, then one a week. Adrian did for me what no medical man could do - he healed what ailed me.
I simply couldn’t believe it. But the evidence was there. I had two normal, not painful, non-weepy eyes. I could date again!
And this was no psychosomatic condition. Harley Street’s finest pored over me with as much bewilderment as the first-time British zoologists viewed a platypus - totally confused by what lay before them.
Acupuncture was a last resort for me and in the times since then, when I have had serious medical conditions, I have always gone first to a traditional doctor.
But I’ve never lost faith in acupuncture and even after having physiotherapy years ago for a back injury after a car crash, I have acupuncture to help keep the problem in check.
It’s also great for increasing your energy levels and reducing stress.
So when I hear people dismiss acupuncture as having purely a placebo effect, I know they’re wrong. It was a last resort for me once, but now it would always be part and parcel of any treatment I have.
And who is to pronounce on what is and what is not a placebo effect, or what it even means when traditional professionals confess even their drugs have a placebo effect?
I think, with my background and my family, you would be hard-pushed to find anyone more sceptical about the benefits of non-traditional medicine, but here I am, a believer.
There aren’t many things I agree with Prince Charles about, but the benefit of alternative medicine is one of them.