By Kathleen J. Bryan
Forum News Service
WILLISTON, N.D. — Rebecca Lloyd has had just one patient who says they get a good night’s sleep.
It’s likely because of the stress in western North Dakota’s boom town. But the 49-year-old from Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, who arrived in Williston in August and started her acupuncture practice a month later, is trying to do something about it.
She’s hoping to increase the quality of life in Williston and the surrounding area.
“I just wanted to bring something new and help them. I’ve only had one patient who says they sleep well at night. Nobody has a good night’s sleep, there’s a lot of stress,” Lloyd said.
Acupuncture is a complementary or alternative medicine that involves inserting thin needles into the skin to alleviate pain and various physical and emotional ailments.
Lloyd said her patients always think of the needles, expecting them to be “big hypodermic needles” and instead are surprised by their small size, and “they don’t hurt.”
She said placing the needles at specific points on a person’s body activates neural activity and stimulates healing. Through her practice, ND Acupuncture, Lloyd provides treatment for conditions such as asthma, muscle and back pain, stress and headaches.
She sees about 10 patients each week, but could “comfortably” see 10 a day. Men and women ranging in age from 20 to 80 make up an equal share of her caseload, however, the majority of the men work in the oil fields or in a support capacity, many logging a lot of hours on the computer or behind the wheel of a truck.
They struggle with numbness and tingling in their hands or pinching muscles, Lloyd said. Inserting needles along the neck and shoulders eases the symptoms, leading to results.
“I work with needles, not a magic wand. It will not give you miraculous results in one visit,” she said.
For acute back pain, a treatment plan may involve two sessions per week over a two-week period. She then monitors the pain and spaces out the treatments, she said.
Williston native and chiropractor Jackie Johnsrud met Lloyd soon after she opened her practice in the city’s downtown.
About 95 percent of Johnsrud’s patients are directly linked to the oil fields. She said truck drivers with back pain often come in for adjustments and relief.
She sees Lloyd’s practice growing with the influx of people, many who are “more accepting” of alternative medicine.
“I think she’ll help quite a few people. … We both can work at the cause of the pain instead of masking [it], instead of giving a muscle relaxant or pain killer. We try to fix the problem,” she said.
Easing the pain is something dear to Lloyd. The former lumber mill and flooring sales worker knew she wanted to do more with her life after her father’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent death in 2009 inspired her to learn about easing nausea and pain, which led her to acupuncture.
Lloyd “followed her heart,” sold her house in Marquette and moved to Minnesota to pursue a master’s in acupuncture in September 2011.
Her graduate studies at Bloomington, Minn.-based Northwestern Sciences Health University included coursework in Chinese theory and ancient principles elicited confusion at times.
But when the time came for the practical application, the relationship between mind and body and its ability to heal, it began to make sense to her.
“I like making someone’s day better. … Acupuncture helps increase a person’s quality of life. It absolutely is not meant to replace Western medicine, but works beautifully side-by-side with it,” Lloyd said.