What kind of person do you envision being a holistic healer? Waiflike, a vegetarian and yoga practitioner, someone who talks about ethereal, intangible things like “light” and does so in a soft, lilting voice? And long, flowy skirts, right?
An Army veteran in a Harley jacket, Cathy hardly seems like the stereotypical idea of a healer. She’s brusque, thorough and incredibly knowledgeable. And no wonder – Cathy has a Master’s Degree in traditional Chinese medicine from the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She’s an acupuncturist, a Chinese herbalist and a tui na (pronounced “twee-nah”) massage therapist.
As her career in the Army came to a close in her 30s, Cathy began wondering what she’d like to do when she got out. A massage therapist friend told her, “You’d make a great acupuncturist,” and boy, was she right. Unlike many chiropractors and other doctors who often have less than 100 hours of training before offering supplemental acupuncture, Cathy endured rigorous training in Colorado and completed her Master’s with over 2,700 hours.
Each acupuncturist has a unique blend of passions and skillsets. Cathy believes it’s of utmost importance for a patient to be with the right practitioner. “If you don’t like the person or you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to go – and what good is that?” she asks. While she treats each patient individually, based on their personal ailments (and from chronic and acute pain to infertility to PTSD, there’s nothing she can’t work with), she approaches everyone with a whole-body mindset. “You can drive your car for years and just get your oil changed, but what about the rest of it? Unless you’re willing to get those tune-ups and service your whole car, it’s not going to run smoothly. When you take care of the entire thing, you don’t have to press the gas as hard to make it go as fast – and our bodies are incredible machines. We have to take care of them.” This is why she lets the patient’s body tell her what it needs: “In Chinese medicine, how you got there is as important as how you’re going to get back,” meaning, what led our bodies to their painful states is just as important as the road back to wellness.
How we care for ourselves is a particular passion of Cathy’s. A lover of Chinese medical history, she points out, “The premise [of Chinese medicine] is if your body’s balanced, you’re not going to have health problems. Americans aren’t good at that. We eat too much, drink too much, we don’t even take our paid vacation days! When you come to see me, it’s like a mini vacation…we don’t do that enough.”
How many times a patient needs to see Cathy depends on the patient’s age and reason for seeing her. However, as an herbalist, if she doesn’t see incredible improvement within the first few sessions, she’s looking through her herb books and her personal herbal pharmacy. Acupuncture is about keeping fluids and energy moving through the proper channels, or meridians. When you have pain, she says, something is blocked. Her job is to find a way to unblock it – because your body can’t heal itself when it’s blocked. In addition to acupuncture, she offers cupping (which draws old toxins out of the fascia so your body can more easily rid itself of them) and many herbs that can be made into teas, powders and capsules. For her, it’s all about real healthcare. “Back when Chinese medicine was [developing], in the village, they had a doctor. You paid your doctor once a month. If you got sick, your doctor didn’t get paid. That’s health care. Here, we have ‘sick care.’ If you get sick, we take care of you.” That’s not enough for Cathy, who believes we have too many sick people and not enough healers in the United States.
Small steps are important to her when working with her patients. When it comes to pain, many older patients come to her with decades of chronic pain they’d never sought treatment for. Especially for women, she said, seeking treatment can be hard, because many are in the habit of taking care of everyone else before themselves. “But really,” she says ruefully, “how selfish is that? What can you give if you’re not functioning well?”
I started seeing Cathy for relief from jaw pain after a recent TMJ flare-up. After giving me some dietary ideas I hadn’t thought of, she treated me for four sessions. While I’m still working on gaining more mobility in that joint, I haven’t had jaw pain since I started seeing her.
For those of you who are squeamish about needles, don’t fret. You don’t even feel the tiny things going in – so if you close your eyes, all you even feel is a little tap. Then you relax in one of Cathy’s rooms with dim lighting and soft music, free to take a mental vacation while the needles do their work. When she comes back in, Cathy removes the needles and leaves you to dress. You’ll feel relaxed and pain-free – and after all, isn’t that what we all need more of?
Cathy certainly thinks so. When someone worries about even just four sessions and the time it could take away from their schedule, she tells them, “There are 722 hours in a month. Aren’t you worth four of those?”
You know you are! So fill out the form below to be entered into a drawing to win a FREE acupuncture session with Cathy! Your body will thank you!
Tags: acupuncture, acupuncture colorado springs, cathy dimaggio, certified health coach, chinese medicine, erika fore, health coach colorado, herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, needles, north springs acupuncture, pain management, TMJ