Sunday 25 September 2016

Alopecia - Nearing my Journey's End

May 2016 - immediately after the chop!

August 2016 - with added blonde!

It is now five months since I shaved my head (and 14 months since discovering my first bald patch) and I'm delighted to report that my hair is growing back!The patches are closing up and there is new (dark) hair growth clearly visible in their centres.

I have attributed this recovery to a very simple, yet powerful Five Element acupuncture treatment given to me by my tutor and mentor, Nora Franglen, whom I consider to be the authority on Five Element Acupuncture in the UK. 

The treatment she gave me was to clear a CV/GV block. This protocol is primarily used in Five Element acupuncture, but less so by practitioners trained in the more widely available Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture. 

A CV/GV block can occur as a result of major trauma (recent or historical) or after surgery in child birth, and can leave the patient with chronic, low energy (eg ME, MS), infertility and auto-immune deficiencies. If a CV/GV block is suspected, it is vital that it is cleared as this energy flow is responsible for supporting all the other energy meridians and officials.

In Nora's eyes, my sudden and dramatic hair loss pointed clearly to a major energy block and a CV/GV block clearance was indicated.

The procedure involves clearing blocked energy in the Conception Vessel or Ren Mai (CV) and the Governing Vessel or Du Mai (GV) by needling the following points;
CV1 (located at the centre of the perineum); GV1 (located between the tip of coccyx and the anus); CV 24 (located on the chin in the mentolabial groove); GV28 (located inside the mouth, on the frenulum).

In reality, many acupuncture practitioners avoid clearing this block because of the intimate nature of the needling, but it can be done very discreetly with minimal embarrassment. Whilst it is important that the needling is carried out with intention, any discomfort is short-lived and the benefits far outweigh this.  

I have been reflecting back over my own past to try to think of a root cause to my hair loss. I know I am not alone in having experienced several traumas and losses in my life. Undoubtedly the most traumatic event was the sudden and unexpected home birth of my second child, who arrived two weeks before term, and was delivered before the ambulance arrived with just my husband to help. Sadly my son only survived for two days as he was born with congenital hypo-plastic left heart ie the left side of the heart had failed to develop, and so it was a fatal defect. 

This happened 29 years ago - but I didn't allow myself to grieve at the time as I had a 13 month old toddler to look after. I blocked out my grief to enable me to take on the role of supporting my young son, husband, parents and in-laws, who were all naturally absolutely devastated. 

I know now that I was clearly in shock and possibly suffering from PTSD, but certainly felt closed off emotionally for many years subsequently. I spoke very rarely of my loss and hid it from my children and others - in my mind I thought I was protecting them from hurt, but the fact was that I didn't know how to initiate the conversation or to answer potentially difficult questions. As coping mechanisms, I became an expert at avoidance and compartmentalisation, and adopted a frenetic life-style, absorbing myself completely by looking after family, home and work. 
Could it be then that my alopecia was indeed a very delayed response to this and other traumas?

My conclusion is that finding the exact cause doesn't really matter, but I believe that my own regular Five Element acupuncture treatment over the past six years and my understanding of how trauma affects the Five Elements, have helped me to finally reconcile past events, and to let go of unresolved emotional issues, unrealistic expectations, grief and guilt. 

Perhaps losing my hair was symbolic of this process of letting go? Certainly it has felt like quite a journey, and has really made me take a good hard look at myself and our society, and at the importance we place on looks, hair and imperfection. It made me realise that, hair or no hair, I am the same person on the inside and actually it really doesn't matter to me what I look like or what people think of me.
I feel that this experience has allowed the real essence of who I am to emerge. For the first time in my life I feel that the real me has arrived. 

I like the person I have become and feel very privileged to be here with a wonderful family, home and good health.