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  • Writer's pictureDebra Lapiers

Chinese Medicine in the Wild West

In this post I think I'll tell you how a girl from Washington state ended up in the Arizona Territory doing acupuncture.

First, how I got here.

I love the sunshine. I lived on the dry side of Washington state. More famous for sand dunes and juniper forest than being wet. I did go to school on the wet side, but that's for another day.

We returned to our hometown after my hubby left the military. But our hometown just wasn't the same place anymore. It had been taken over by outta-towners who increased the cost of housing (think Seattle and Cali).

I opened a small community acupuncture clinic there. I had thought that "If I build it, they will come". But that only works in the movies. The area didn't have many acupuncturists, and had no idea what acupuncture could do for them. I spent most of my time educating.

I had been taught that if I treat enough people at a low price, I would be able to make a good living. Our hometown did not embrace acupuncture, and so it was a struggle. The high volume, low cost model created burn out in a hurry.

Not long after starting my clinic, my father passed away. One of his favorite places to visit was Bisbee Arizona. After he was cremated, I took his ashes to Bisbee, among other places. When I was in the area, I stopped off in Tombstone. I could see myself living in this place. It seemed like a nice small town, everyone was nice to me. It is close to a small but functional military base. I matched our town size to the ones from back home. Tombstone is like Benton City, Tucson is like Spokane or Tacoma (I often call it that), and Phoenix is like Seattle or Portland (another slip that happens often). Sierra Vista is about the size of Kennewick (or feels like it to me).

I moved my travel trailer down to the RV park and lived in Tombstone for 6 weeks before moving back to Washington to be near family. I liked it enough that we started looking for a house. Erik found us a house after a bit of looking. The original plan was to go off grid, and I am so glad we didn't.

The house Erik found had an office off the entry way, but inside the house. I soon found that people in this area won't travel to Tombstone for acupuncture. A friend of mine suggested that I sublet from her in Sierra Vista. I started to in January or February of 2020. We all know what happened right after that.

Because my business wasn't established in the time before quarantine, I didn't qualify for aid. I closed down and gave up my dreams of being an acupuncturist. I felt like it was too much to deal with and in November of 2021, I almost gave up on acupuncture all together. But that same friend encouraged me to try subletting again, and I did.

I don't think I could ever thank her enough.

Chinese Medicine and Health

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