Good news, bad news, and a plea for support

An open letter to patients and supporters of Detroit Community Acupuncture:

Dear friends,

I have bad news, good news, and a plea.

The bad news is that Detroit Community Acupuncture will close at the end of August. I have worked so hard to build this beloved clinic and keep it running, so it’s hard on my ego to see it close; but more than that, I have had so much help in building it and keeping it running that it feels like letting all those people down – not to mention all of our patients over the years. If my various attempts to build it bigger and more sustainable had been timed better, if the rent had not gotten so high around here, if my spouse were not looking for work, if I could afford to take on debt, if the winter had not been so slow…if any of those things or a million other small circumstances were different, I would probably stay put and keep fighting. But in the meantime I must step back and regroup.

This brings me to the good news:

I have accepted an offer by Darlene of Communtiy Health Acupuncture Center in Ferndale to come work with her there. The reality of our business is that a one-acupunk shop doesn’t make a lot of economic sense; it’s better for everyone at any clinic to have more employees and be open more hours, as long as those hours are busy enough. Keeping our fees low only works if we give a lot of treatments; so consolidating our energies into one clinic makes a lot more sense for now. I hope that if you can, you will come let me (or Darlene) treat you there.

The current plan is to gradually move some of my shifts to Ferndale, starting with Thursdays and alternate Saturdays and adding Mondays in August (one change is that I will be there on Thursday afternoons instead of mornings, for the time being.) This will begin this coming Thursday, July 10th. Our last day at DCA is projected to be Tuesday, August 27th. There are also family matters to take care of during this transition, so the schedule may be a little irregular for the next couple of months. PLEASE schedule in advance or CALL AHEAD to make sure that we are open. But please DO come in, both so that we can see you and (quite frankly) so that we can pay our last month’s rent. Feel free to continue referring new patients to either clinic! We will probably have a “garage sale” of excess furnishings that neither clinic needs; stay tuned for details. We will try to keep the website updated, but keep an eye on our Facebook page too.

It probably always feels bad to close a business down. But to close a business in a city that already has seen too many businesses closed, and jobs lost; to close a business whose mission is to help relieve the pains and stresses of working- and middle-class people…well, that feels really bad. Which brings me to my plea.

As you know, the clinic and I, and some of you, are proud members of the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA). You probably also know that POCA has made an enormous grassroots effort to launching an affordable acupuncture training program, which should happen this Fall–if we can get the money together. I’m sure that someday, maybe soon, someone from Detroit will go to this school, get much better training and preparation than I did (and with much less debt), and open a new community acupuncture clinic here. And because that person will be from the community, and will be better prepared and less financially burdened by their training, their clinic will be more likely to survive the normal ups and downs of business and weather and life in Detroit. Please help this future acupunk (perhaps they are you!) and help them help you and your community by donating whatever you can – maybe just $5 or $10, or the cost of a treatment – to POCA Tech.

Thank you all so much for all of your support over the past five years. It has been a very great honor to know you all and to try to support you. I will miss DCA, but hope to continue serving you at CHAC!

Sincerest best wishes,
Nora Madden

Snow happens.

The clinic will pretty much always be open if we can. If we have to have a “snow day” or close for some other emergency, we’ll try to post it here and on our Facebook page (the exception being an internet-interrupting emergency).

That said, we know a snowstorm can make it hard for patients to get here. Please give us a call to reschedule as soon as you know you can’t make it. (You can also reschedule online, if you’re already in the system – which you’ll know because you’ll have received confirmation emails.) If you can make your appointment, no need to call; we’ll just look forward to seeing you…and it’s nice and cozy in here!

Holiday hours

The clinic will be closed this Friday & Saturday, December 25th & 26th, and the following Friday & Saturday, January 1st and 2nd. That means we will ONLY be open Monday through Wednesday the next two weeks (as we’ll be closed Thursdays and Sundays as usual). So make sure to schedule your treatments in, and if we don’t see you till January, have safe, happy, healthy holidays!

Thinking about Miriam Lee

From Avi Magidoff:

There is a tremendous advantage in treating people in open spaces and with other people. I have noticed this through teaching and conducting grand rounds. Although I use the same techniques in my private practice as I do when I teach, patients always seem to respond better and faster when I treat them in a large room and in front of other people. I can only attribute this to the Qi being able to circulate: ideas are exchanged, inhibition is not encouraged, etc. In my experience when patients interact with each other (and other people) and share the healing process, they heal faster.

Miriam Lee, one of my mentors and one of the first practicing acupuncturists in the U.S., would treat in a one-bedroom basement apartment, with 9 beds separated only by curtains. Patients could hear every word exchanged in every interaction, and could literally touch the person on the other side of the curtain. Miriam would often ask people to walk out into the common space and see how their leg, shoulder, back pain (or whatever ailment they had) were doing as the needles were in them. This way everyone got to participate in everyone’s healing. It became a communal experience. At times Miriam would offer patients lunch. I am aware of not one of her students who has been able to achieve the results Miriam did, in spite of years of training and Miriam openly sharing her “secrets.”

There are some models of treating people in a community setting, primarily in detox clinics, but these models serve “specialised” populations. What about all the other people who would benefit from a community experience, from learning about healing through a collective experience, from mutual support, from the successes and failures of fellow patients, from the wisdom of others in general?

In fact we might argue that a specialised community clinic is not really a community clinic since it includes only small portions of the community. A true community is composed of the under-served and the over-served, the rich and the poor, those who are used to privatised medicine in luxurious settings, and those who have only been to Kaiser. And most importantly, the community is composed of people with many different kinds of health issues, severe, mild, chronic, acute, as well as people who are officially not sick but still seek healing on many levels.

Cold & Flu prevention tips

Some of these are common-sense; some of them might not be scientifically proven. I use all of them, though; try them and see what works for you!

Cover your neck when outside
Traditionally, instead of “catching cold,” Chinese Medicine theory uses the metaphor of “wind invasion.” In this metaphor, “wind” commonly “invades” the channels at the back of the neck/upper back, which is why you hardly ever see an acupuncturist without a scarf in the chilly months. Plus, who needs an excuse to rock a stylish scarf?

Don’t hang around in sweaty clothes
When you sweat, you are more “open” to wind invasion. So, after you work out, it’s best to dry the sweat off with a towel (if you can’t actually shower off), and change into dry clothes as soon as you can.

Raise your temperature & REST

This is the most important one. I rarely catch cold because I take herbs and go to bed early whenever I feel one coming on. Boring? Yes. But if you too have the kind of job where you don’t get paid if you don’t show up (especially if you love your job, like I do), staying in one night is worth not losing a week or two of work.

If you’re strong, you can sometimes fight the early onset of a cold by working up an (active) sweat – a short jog or brisk walk, for example; but if you’re already feeling run down and exhausted, it’s often better to gently raise your temperature a little bit, passively. This can be taking a warm bath, and/or taking a traditional herbal formula, chasing it with hot tea or soup, getting under some covers and resting for at least a half hour.

Eat lightly/lower on the food chain

If you can, go lightly on the cold, rich, dense foods (meat, nut butters, dairy products, sweets) and eat more soups and steamed veggies. Let your body save its energy for fighting that virus, instead of digesting heavy foods. As always, your mileage may vary; pay attention to your body’s needs.

Especially for those of you that live alone, I strongly suggest that you make up a pot of some nice congee or veggie soup and freeze some of it (we have a good congee recipe hand-out at the clinic, but you can google it too). That way, if you DO get hit with the flu, you’ll have some good nourishing food on hand. (And if you get really sick, call someone to look in on you, okay?)

Pay attention
When do you catch cold or flu? Some people always get sick after a big project is finished; or when they fly in an airplane; or when they haven’t been sleeping well; or when they’re having their menstrual cycle. Try to notice when your immune system tends to be most vulnerable, so you can take preventative measures. And, if you DO get sick, don’t beat yourself up about it, and try not to take it personally; remember those viruses have evolved to use us as hosts!

Last but not least, acupuncture can help keep your immune system functioning well – partly by giving your body some “concentrated rest” and a break from the stresses that can make you more vulnerable.

Neti Pot
This isn’t Chinese Medicine, but I’ve heard many patients and friends swear by using a neti pot at the first sign of a cold. A similar piece of advice (from an MD) is: when stuck in a dry, closed place, such as an airplane or office, flush your nasal passages regularly by spraying with saline spray and blowing your nose. And, as always, avoid touching your face before washing your hands – and to avoid spreading viruses, please cough or sneeze into your sleeve, not your hands!

Feel free to add your favorite tips (or soup recipes) below!

Upcoming special events!

During the week of November 16th – 21st, all three Community Acupuncture clinics in the area (see sidebar for links to the other two) will be offering two-for-one treatments! This is for two reasons: to honor vets for Veterans’ Day, and to coincide with the Great American Smokeout.

Acupuncture has been used by lots of people to take the edge off of the cravings and stress associated with quitting smoking; we’re happy to be part of your plan to quit. So grab a quitting buddy – you can support each other, for better success – and come on down! (Walk-ins are welcome, as always, but we can only guarantee appointments if you call and schedule in advance.)

I’ll post more about this, closer to the actual event. Stay tuned!

Closed again – but there’s good news!

Dear DCA patients and fans:
Nora will be out of town on Community Acupuncture business this weekend, so the clinic will be closed this Friday (Oct. 23rd) and Monday (Oct. 26th). The good news is, special guest acupuncturist Jalyn Spencer will be filling in for the regular Saturday shift in-between (October 24th – click on her name to find out more about her). Please welcome her back to Detroit by letting her give you a treatment! Call the clinic (313-831-3222) to schedule.

The following Saturday is Halloween, and the clinic will not only be open, we’re having a 2-for-1 special! We’re really overdue for getting some photos up on the website with *people* in them, so if you’re willing to let us use your smiling face (or needled feet), we’re offering 2-for-1 treatments that day in exchange (or, if you prefer, we’ll give you a gift certificate to give someone else). Please call to make an appointment, or schedule online.

Closed this Monday & Tuesday

September 28th & 29th, for personal reasons. We’ll be open again Wednesday, September 30th, at 2:00. Please feel free to leave a message on the clinic phone 313-831-3222. Thanks for your understanding.

Acupuncture is like Noodles: The Theory

The foundational theory of Acupuncture is like Noodles rests on a strong class analysis of the U.S.. Specifically: In the U.S., one of the richest nations in the world, why are so many people doing without health care?

Although Rohleder centers her answer to this question around acupuncture, in all reality, her answer is one that can very easily be fleshed out to understand the bigger picture of health care in the U.S.. For example, to start off with, Rohleder asserts that with class comes values–and with different levels of class comes different values. Rohleder very effectively brings home the point by painting a scenario of a woman getting ready to go out to a party. If she is rich, she more than likely will have gotten a nice glossy invitation and will have been invited by higher ups in her job. She will be going to the party because it will be a great way to network (i.e. make connections that will help her career) and because her boss will expect it of her. She will bring along her partner (if her partner is a “he”) and have a nanny stay with the kids. She will buy a new business outfit for the occasion and maybe go out to get her hair and nails done.

By way of contrast–Rohleder asserts that a working class woman would get a word of mouth invitation from a friend she works with. The party would be more “personal” in that it would probably be a baby shower or a wedding shower. She would more than likely not buy new clothes for the occassion and would bring kids with her rather than a partner (partner probably has to work and there’s no place to leave the kids otherwise).

By fleshing out this scenario of two women from different classes going to a party, Rohleder makes the conclusion that each of these women and their communities *value* something different. Rich(er) women value elegance, status, personal service, refinement, individuality, beauty, exoticism, and uniqueness. In other words, how can you get that promotion or raise if you aren’t unique? How can you show you are unique if you look like everybody else in blue jeans and a t-shirt?

Working class women value interdependence, creativity, hard work, resourcefulness, personal relationships, directness, and loyalty. Or, in other words, how are you going to get to that party and have a good time if you don’t figure out what to do with the kids? How are you going to figure out what to do with the kids if you don’t have a community of women to depend on?

So if you flesh out these values into the world of health care, you begin to see that health care is about a lot more than “getting insurance.” That it’s also about *values*. That, as Rohleder asserts, rich(er) communities are going to feel more comfortable going to a doctor that wears a white jacket, has an expensive stethoscope, uses big words, spends a lot of time asking questions and filling out paper work, and makes the patient feel as if s/he is the only patient that this doctor has or cares about (Individuality, uniqueness, etc, right?).

By way of contrast a person from a working class background will more than likely feel patently uncomfortable in those types of surroundings. Answering hundreds of questions? Filling out tons of paper work? All that attention on “me” when “me” knows from experience “we” is the only way to be creative and resourceful?

As a result of this class critique, Rohleder implemented the Community Acupuncture business model in her own practice. The community acupuncture model of practice has been around for a while (it is considered “normal” in China and was brought to the U.S. by various radical practitioners like Miriam Lee and NADA and the Black Panthers), but it is not necessarily recognized as a sustainable or “normal” way of practicing even within the acupuncture community. The main way most people in the U.S. learn acupuncture is through acupuncture schools–and acupuncture schools teach a business practice that encourages practices that model rich(er) class values: individuality, exoticism, multiple services in one place–and above all else–hugely expensive prices.

Community acupuncture models, on the other hand, center working class values. Interconnectedness is supported through multiple people in the treatment room. Mothers can bring kids, caretakers can bring loved ones, friends can bring friends. There is limited paper work. Few questions. The work is done by the needles and the client–so there really doesn’t need to be much talk between the acupuncturist and the client.

As I read this section of the book, I was really excited to see so much of my own personal experiences with health care acknowledged and respected. The number of times I have felt intimidated by all the questions and paper work of a doctors visit have been innumerable and have often led to bad situations where I was answering what I thought the doctor wanted me to say, rather than what was real for me. And I have definitely NOT gone to the doctor because I didn’t feel like dealing with the inevitable questions around weight or sexuality or drug use: when the hell was I going to lose weight? Oh, I don’t know, maybe when the doctor paid for my gym membership!

But at the same time, I also come from a background of organizing that prioritizes intersectionality (race, gender, class, citizenship, all intersect and can not be seperated out of a person’s body. For example, you are NOT just white. You are a white upper-class white male citizen.), and so I constantly wondered, how might some of the “values” be changed according to other identities? In other words, a person who is in the U.S. without documents will really appreciate the lack of questions, the lack of paper work. At the same time, a woman of color who has been ignored and shunted aside by health care workers her entire life may find the lack of questions to be alienating. Or, just another example of health care workers not caring about her (I am thinking, by way of example, of the black woman who was ignored when she fell out of her wheel chair and then went into seizures, all while right in front of hospital workers). I also wonder at how many older people who have lived under the “doctors know best” rule would feel uncomfortable, or even stressed out, by the more free flowing “stand back” values of community acupuncture. If you don’t have the skills or strategies to trust yourself and what your body is doing to heal itself (because those ARE skills–skills that are purposefully challenged and destroyed by authoritarian structures that are modeled on “control” and “obedience” [i.e. schools, doctors, the army, police, etc]), it can be like free falling into hell to be told “trust yourself.” What happens when the last time you trusted yourself, you wound up being beaten until you passed out? What happens when what you really need to trust yourself is the presence of a person?

But in the end, I think that these are questions of practice. That is, they are questions that need to be dealt with on an individual level within the practice rather than incorporated into the actual theory. The *theory* of Acupuncture is like Noodles is sound, and can function on its own even without the race/gender/citizenship/etc analysis added in. But I do think that if community models of acupuncture are going to be working with very specific communities (for example, native peoples who have gone through boarding schools, or older black folks who lived through apartheid in the U.S., Hurricane Katrina survivors, etc), it would be really good to open up the community acupuncture model just a bit–to allow the space to say, working class people of color who went through Hurricane Katrina may need a hand to hold onto while they work on recovering and healing themselves.

Miriam Lee Week at Detroit Community Acupuncture!

Miriam Lee Week
July 20 – 25th
2-for1 treatments
Detroit Community Acupuncture

“[Acupuncture] can be done for fame or for wealth…if the intention is wrong, if you are concentrating on earning money, treating fewer patients and charging higher fees…you may get some results from your treatments or you may not….If you intend to cure, you use
all your might to treat patients.”

Miriam Lee, Insights of a Senior Acupuncturist

Dr. Miriam Lee (December 8,1926-June 24, 2009) was a pioneer in the field of acupuncture, and was a major force leading to its legalization in the U.S. She was very dedicated to her patients – often seeing as many as 10 patients an hour during her 80 hour weeks – and was generous with her knowledge as well (many of the current U.S. acupuncture teachers studied with her). Please help us honor this amazing woman, by experiencing her famous protocol!

July 20 – 25th, schedule with a friend for 2-for-1 “Miriam Lee’s 10 Great Needle” treatments!* This protocol, designed by Dr. Lee, is famous for its effectiveness in addressing a wide variety of common health complaints, as well as for promoting general well-being.
It’s a perfect introduction to acupuncture!

Mon. & Wed. 3:00 – 7:00, Tues & Fri. 2:00 – 6:00
Sat. 10:00 –2:00 (Thursday & Sunday closed)
87 E. Canfield St., Suite 1300 (at John R)
For more information call 313-831-3222 or visit
*(New and returning patients welcome; our usual fee is $15 – $35 per treatment, whatever works for your budget.)