Acupuncture in the Integrative Hospice
With Guest: Robyn Curtis
Most of us spend our days treating illness and working to bring out patients into a great state of health and wellbeing. But there are moments toward the end of life when the greatest state of health and wellbeing means helping someone to more gently leave this world.
Listen into this conversation on the place of acupuncture in hospice care, a glimpse into the complexities of working in this kind of integrated environment and how about we can broaden our view of helping people at the end of life.
In this conversation we discuss:
- Robyn’s path into hospice care
- What she was doing before hospice
- The workings of a hospice
- Robyn’s upcoming talk at a national group for hospice
- Common issues at hospice that acupuncture is good for
- Methods and approaches
- Family members
- What she's learned at hospice
- Treating anxiety and breathing
- How to get in to hospice care
“One thing that always stuck with me was when one of my professors said, “When you think you have it all figured out, it’s time to start over. You can always go deeper, learn more, and gain dimention in what you think you know.” Keep it simple but go deep.”
I was going to be a dentist. It would have been easier, a predictable income, everyone at least knows exactly what a dentist does. Luckily, I had an amazing anatomy professor who one day said, “Robyn, you seem pretty passionate about the body, I think you should look bigger than the mouth.” Thank goodness for that man’s advice, acupuncture is way more fun than a root canal!
After graduating from Bastyr in 2009 and having all plans suddenly change, I thought working on a cruise ship sounded like a great idea; the grown-up version of running away to join the circus. There has been much travel in my life and ships allowed for more of it while also having the possibility of making those pesky student loan payments.
As a child I found the idea of acupuncture to be terrifying. I am likely the most needle-phobic acupuncturist there is. I’ve gotten better, but I’m sensitive and hope that it has helped me to be a good practitioner for those at end of life. Sometimes a gentle touch is needed even more than finding da qi. In February I’ll have been with Whatcom hospice in Bellingham, WA for seven years. The plan is to stay there while continuing to advocate for acupuncturists in more hospices as well as in cancer centers, palliative care settings, and in hospitals
What I love most about acupuncture and TCM is that I will always have more to learn, it’s impossible to get bored. Each time I take a class or learn a new way to treat a pathology, I get a little spark of excitement. What an incredible medicine.
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I’ve heard it said that for something to be heard — it takes someone to speak and another to listen.
Acupuncturist, Podcast Host
I've always been more drawn to questions than answers. And the practice of medicine seems to more lively when infused with a sense of curiosity and inquiry. It's been delight and honor to be able to discuss our medicine with so many thoughtful and skilled practitioners.