My Acupuncture story

by Mark Whalen

I am often asked how and/or why I got involved with acupuncture. Before I get into my story, I want to start with the end of the story:

Acupuncture changed the course of my life.  It started me on my journey to health.  It gave me a career instead of a job.  I won’t say it’s a calling, but there is nothing else I want to be doing with the rest of my work life.

Here’s how it all began:

Sometime around 2000, I was living in Texas and I noticed my right hand had started feeling numb and my fingers were ice cold.  It was 100 degrees out and my hand was freezing.  It was disconcerting.

After undergoing a nerve conduction test (the one where they shock the nerve to see how fast it’s traveling) I was diagnosed with an ulnar nerve entrapment, which is a fancy way of saying that something was blocking the nerve that runs through the elbow down to the pinky finger.

After a month of medications and a second nerve conduction test, the following conversation ensued- (it’s paraphrased):

Me: "Ok doc, what’s next?"

Doc: "Surgery- we move the nerve and give it a new route to travel"

Me: "So I’d be out of work, in a sling, rehabbing on my own for 8-12 weeks"

Doc: "Yes."

Me: "No".

So before going the surgical route, my boss at the time, a sarcastic, witty fellow (we got along just fine) mentioned that I should try acupuncture.  I thought he was joking (he was).  I didn’t really give it much thought.

The next day at a local store, I noticed there was a brochure for an acupuncturist in the Dallas area.  So I called and I went.

After 1 month of treatment, I went back for another nerve conduction test and the doctor said I had improved to the point that I didn’t need surgery.  Needless to say, I was blown away.  I was hooked.

Continuing Treatment

I was so impressed and curious about acupuncture that I kept going.  During visits I would talk to the acupuncturist in an attempt to learn more.   I’ve always been an avid reader and now I had a new subject to dive into.  I was fascinated by this new medical theory of looking at the body and understanding illness.

I kept going to acupuncture because I liked how it made me feel and helped me out in a lot of ways.  My ability to handle stress improved, my digestion improved and I just overall felt better.

After about a year of going for treatments for I decided to quit my job and go to acupuncture school.  At first I think I went to school because I wanted to learn the theory of acupuncture.   Now that I’m on the other side and have been in practice, I still love studying the theory.  There is an endless supply of theory and techniques for me to learn now.  I will never be out of material to study-which is both daunting and exciting all at once.

A lot of acupuncturists start out as patients.  Whether or not you go back to school for acupuncture, I hope that acupuncture can have a similar positive effect on your health.

[Funny side note:  while in school, I decided not to work so I could focus on my studies. I was also losing my hair, single, in my early 30’s and living in my parent’s basement.]

Remind you of anyone?


(I’m happy to say that most of those conditions have since been resolved, although I could use the hat to cover the unresolved issue. )

Also, the blocked nerve in my elbow hasn’t been a problem since I first had treatment 11 years ago.





Mark Whalen is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Board Certified Herbalist and the founder of Five Points Acupuncture & Wellness in Reading, MA.

Mark Whalen – who has written posts on Acupuncture Reading MA - Five Points Acupuncture & Wellness.


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Five Points Acupuncture & Wellness
20 Pondmeadow Dr #107, Reading, MA 01867
Phone: (781) 944-3000


Serving Reading, North Reading, Wakefield, Burlington and the surrounding Middlesex County, MA areas.

Zip Codes: 01730, 01810, 01867, 01880, 01821, 01803, 01864, 01876,
01887, 01915, 01923, 01940, 01949, 01960