What got you interested in becoming a Chinese Medicine practitioner?

Do you come from a long line of Chinese medicine practitioners from your family?

1)I'm not Chinese but I do practice Chinese Medicine and yes I do look asian because my ethnic background is 45% Japanese, 5% Korean, 1% Other East Asian, 20% British and Irish, 18% French and German, 2% Scandinavian, 9% Other European (thanks 23 and Me!)

2)Technically I come from a moderately long line of geologists (grandfather, father, and uncle) not acupuncturists.

3) Now assumptions aside, I got interested in Chinese Medicine mostly from my experiences dealing with eczema as a small child into my early adulthood.  My family and I went through standard Western dermatological care for my issues until high school when we started exploring alternative and holistic medicine because of poor-to-no results with standard care. For myself as a young child and young adult eczema was a frustrating disease both because of the itching that I experienced but also the constant questioning of peers about what was wrong with me as the chronic rashing on my hands and crooks of my elbows and knees always seemed to draw unwanted attention.  Through the help of my mother I was able to figure out some of the issues causing my eczema in high school, working through an elimination diet and discovering a sensitivity to dairy, which through avoidance reduced a lot of my symptoms.  However I still struggled with the issue, but just to a lesser degree with the eczema symptoms largely confined to my hands at this point.  

I studied multimedia production while an undergraduate student and after graduation got to travel to Dunhuang in China to help archive Buddhist artwork in the Magao caves for a month in 2001.  During this time period I was first exposed to Chinese medicine in the form of tui na (Chinese medical massage) when I saw a practitioner after coming down with a common cold.  They asked me to return the next day for work on my feet at which time they were able to help mostly resolve a long term issues with my left ankle which I had badly sprained in high school and which was still weaker than it should have been.  After this treatment it was the first time in 5 years that my left ankle felt normal and it stopped going out of alignment and spraining easily at the slightest misstep.

When I returned from China, I got a job at a small non-profit in the Twin Cities called Asian Media Access, teaching video editing skills to at risk youth and helping with their other outreach programs.  The hours were long and the pay was low, so my stress levels were relatively high and my nutrition, was pretty poor, so my eczema started to flare badly.  Remembering my experience in China I decided to see if acupuncture might be able to help me more than Western medicine had, so I sought out care at AAAOM (American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Roseville, MN), at their student clinic as it was all I could afford.  I received both acupuncture as well as internal Chinese herbal medicine and topical soaks for my skin issues, and by the end of the week my skin was about 50% better (still bad but also so much better than it had been).  I continued going for a year before my skin was pretty much clear and normal.  

During the time period that I was going for treatment for my eczema, I also witnessed for myself how effective Chinese herbal medicine can be for other issues, as I also came down with a bad chest cold (likely undiagnosed pneumonia).  The cough had been going on for several days and it was so bad that I could barely sleep at night due to waking up to cough every couple of minutes, I had HMO insurance at the time so I called the clinic where my plan was and they told me they could get me in two weeks or that I could go to the emergency room.  Not liking either choice, I called AAAOM's clinic to see if there was anything they could do, they said they could get me in an hour if that would work.  I went in for acupuncture but I was coughing too hard so that I was unable to lie comfortably with the acupuncture needles in place, so instead they took the needles out and made me a bag of herbs to take home to cook and drink.  The herbs were admittedly not very good tasting, but they worked amazingly well, within about 15 minutes of drinking the first dose, I stopped coughing and I was able to sleep well that night, three days later I was completely better and I was able to share the formula with my husband who also unfortunately came down with the same crud.  He got better faster as we had the right thing on hand.

I didn't actually consider going to school for Chinese Medicine until we moved to Northfield.  While we were living in St. Paul I supported my husband for a year while he was looking for a job after he moved up from Texas, once we moved to Northfield for his job at Monster Games and we were both working, I started considering the possibility of going back to school, I was working at Just Food Coop at the time in the Wellness aisle and my boss Chris, thought it would be a good fit for me and it was something I had a lot of interest in.  I started my Master Degree studies in 2008 and graduated in 2011 from Northwestern Health Sciences University.