Catalina Island News

A Personal Story About Acupuncture

Catalina Island Medical Center

Avalon resident Gayle Tasca believes in miracles.  After years of pain and immobility she shares her story of how acupuncture with Julie Tibbetts, DPT, at Catalina Island Medical Center can heal “lost cause” patients who feel hopeless.

Gayle met her husband Mark on the island in 1986 and she has lived in Avalon ever since.  She has worked in retail, done clerical work and accounting but her passion was in creating stained glass art.  Unfortunately, in 2010 she developed lead poisoning from the materials and fumes she was exposed to as an artist.

Physical symptoms and injuries escalated about four years ago.  Weakness in her extremities caused her to fall down unexpectedy. The injuries led to sharp pain in her shoulder and back spasms.  She was prescribed pain medications but doctors never identified the cause of the pain.  She tried physicial therapy but the pain of moving her body required more medications. Sitting for any length of time was agony. Opioid use led to a host of other problems with digestion, insomnia and exhaustion. She had fears of addiction so she lived in pain much of the time rather than take prescription drugs.

Gayle became bed-ridden and felt unable to enjoy life. In June 2016 she had her first meeting with Julie Tibbetts to see if an acupuncture appointment might help ease her suffering.  “Julie is the best practitioner on the island --- ever.” Gayle shared. She went on to say, “I cannot speak highly enough about the transformation and healing that has taken place in such a short time.” Gayle has been seen twice a week for the past five months and her health and mobility are radically improved. Acupuncture with meditation and massage has changed Gayle’s life. “With such gentle guidance, the information about diet and nutrition and the encouragement Julie provides I am restored,” Gayle shared gratefully.

What is acupuncture? It is defined as a system of complementary medicine that involves pricking the skin or tissues with needles, used to alleviate pain and to treat various physical, mental, and emotional conditions. Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for centuries. It's based on the theory that energy, called chi (say "chee"), flows through and around your body along pathways called meridians. Acupuncturists believe that illness occurs when something blocks or unbalances your chi. Acupuncture is a way to unblock or influence chi and help it flow back into balance.

Acupuncture is done by putting very thin needles into your skin at certain points on your body. This is done to influence the energy flow. It can help patients with pain, anxiety, infertility, stress, insomnia, digestive issues and other conditions. The initial visit involves a full interview and evaluation, but otherwise treatments are completed within 50 minutes.  Gayle described an acupuncture session as “a depth of unconscious healing as I lie on the table.  I’m so relaxed, it’s quiet, I’m out of pain.  There’s almost a disconnect between my body and my brain. I feel unwound and almost like I’m floating. I often fall asleep.” Asked about the discomfort of the needles, she shared “ pricking your finger when sewing is a thousand times worse than acupuncture.  It’s definitely not like getting a shot."

Julie Tibbetts, has a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC).  She works full time with CIMC’s Therapy Services Department and last summer expanded her practice to include acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Julie grew up in Hamilton, Montana and received her undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Montana.  She moved to Honolulu, HI and established her own health and fitness business as a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor.   Julie also received her massage therapy license from the Hawaii College of Health Sciences specializing in medical and sports therapy.  Julie went on to further her education and received a Master’s in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAOM) in 2012 from Alhambra Medical University.  She will take the Orthopedic Specialty Certification (OSC) exam for Physical Therapy and certification through the American Board of Physical Therapy in early 2017. Julie is excited to bring her considerable skills to more Catalina patients.  She will be giving a demonstration of acupuncture along with more information about alternative healing at the Friends of the Library Lecture Series on Thursday December 1 at 7 pm in the Avalon Library.

Catalina Island Medical Center offers a wide range of health and wellness services for residents and visitors.  Catalina Island Medical Center is committed to provide patient centered care and health enrichment for each individual and improve the overall health of our community.  The clinicians in the Therapy Services Department work with CIMC doctors to respond to any medical conditions a patient has.  Physicians will refer patients for physical therapy and/or acupuncture as part of a holistic approach to healing.
To make an appointment for acupuncture or physical therapy, please speak to your doctor or call Ruby Gordon at Catalina Island Medical Center (310) 510-0700 extension 227.