I'm very happy to report that this acupuncture stuff continues to help. I got the MRI results back, and it turns out I have a bulging/herniated disc in my lower back. The doctor suggested an epidural steriod injection, but I have decided to give the acupuncture and physical therapy exercises more time to do their work.
The acupuncture itself still seems quite magical. P will apply slight pressure to a painful area on my back, and then locate a place in my abdomen, press again, and ask, "Is that better, or worse?" Sometimes, he has to make minor adjustments in the placement, but usually he's spot on. He then applies the needle to the secondary spot (not the place in my back that was hurting). If I wasn't feeling it myself, experiencing the tangible reduction in pain, I'd scarcely believe it.
And the magical aspect is certainly amplified by P himself. He is truly one of those people who seems to have the aura of a healer. His calm presence and compassionate manner are remarkable. (And of course when he saw that I was reading Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth, he heartily approved.)
I'm still amazed that Kaiser, of all places, has integrated acupuncture into their pain clinic. It's clearly an accepted part of the practice. Kaiser gets a bad rap from many folks, and it certainly has its issues, but I have to say that I've generally been pleased with the care I've received. (A good thing, given the insurance issues I posted about recently!) I've never had horrible waits to be seen, and with only one exception I've been quite impressed with the doctors who have managed my care. Knock wood -- may that continue!