Dayton, OH — Without knowing for sure what was ailing her patient, acupuncturist Sue Berkholdt was praying in her head that the next needle she inserted would solve the problem, whatever it was.
“While I know that the needles move the energy around and change the blood flow, I’m always secretly praying that this next needle does the trick. If/when the patient tells me that they’re still feeling the same after the treatment I usually respond with a ‘Huh, interesting’ and then wait for their reaction to see if they’re upset with me.”
It’s not that Berkholdt hasn’t helped many of her patients overcome physical pain, weight loss, arthritic pain, and more, but it’s always a coin toss as far as she’s concerned.
“I see the body as a human roulette wheel. When I place the needles into the skin I’ll say something in my head like ‘let’s put twenty on black’. If that doesn’t do anything for the patient then I’ll say to myself ‘OK, let’s put twenty on red.’
"And if that doesn’t do anything I’ll say, ‘OK, let’s put fifty on red?’ and I’ll ask it like a question like that to see if that’s what the universe wants. And if that doesn’t work I’ll say ‘fingers crossed’ and put more needles in randomly, silently praying one of them does something.”
Mary Littleton is a former patient of Berkholdt who says she actually heard Berkholdt’s doubt-inspired prayers during her session.
“I heard her whisper ‘mama needs new a pair of shoes’ right before inserting a needle into my back,” said Littleton. “When she told me that crossing my own fingers wouldn’t hurt I decided to seek treatment elsewhere.”
Berkholdt will defend the practice of acupuncture and argue for its efficacy to critics but will also yield if pushed too far.