Diane Ford taught fifth and sixth grades in Lewiston for 25 years, then embarked — cautiously — on her second career, in acupuncture.
“I don’t have a patient with as much doubt as I had,” Ford said.
Personal experience changed that. Studying for her new career for a few years in Hawaii didn’t hurt . . .
She opened Acupuncture Center 17 years ago and has offices in Lewiston and Brunswick.
Name: Diane Ford
What first drew you to acupuncture? One day I went to a health fair and there was an acupuncturist there. In the course of our conversation, she told me that acupuncture could help children with ADHD. I really didn’t believe her. However, looking back at all of my students afflicted with that condition, if there was something that I could do to help them, I needed to explore acupuncture.
What made you decide it could be an interesting second career? I found a school in Hawaii that would let me attend one of their summer courses. I had a bad knee. The orthopedic doctor thought I needed surgery. Acupuncture fixed my knee. The next summer I brought my 82-year-old father with me. My mother had passed and I am an only child. We met with my dad’s doctor to get his medication for the summer. My dad went to the bathroom and I asked his doctor if it was really OK to take him with me. He said, “I didn’t think he would be alive to make this appointment.” He had frequent acupuncture treatments starting that summer and lived another 10 years. These are the main reasons that I became an acupuncturist.
You’re in Hawaii studying. It’s gorgeous. Any second thoughts about coming back to Maine to practice? I came back to Maine to practice because I am from Maine. I am a skier and missed the snow. Hawaii is a nice place to visit, but people who work there cannot take a lot of time off because the cost of living is so expensive.
Can you — or do you — acupuncture yourself? I do acupuncture on myself whenever I need it. In most instances you don’t feel the needle, but sometimes it feels like a mosquito bite. It is relaxing and in many cases the patient will fall asleep. I had one patient tell me, “My doctor told me to get acupuncture 3 years ago and if I had known that it didn’t hurt, I would have been here a long time ago.
Who comes to see you and why? I have a number of patients who come to see me for various conditions: headache, back pain, shingles, trigeminal neuralgia, fertility and a host of other conditions. Remember that acupuncture is over 2,000 years old. Some people come to see me to try to avoid surgery, others come to see me for colds and flu, stress depression and anxiety and weight loss. I also treat people for addictions, including people who want to stop smoking. When I was a school teacher it would take a long time for students to recognize how much I helped them. In acupuncture, you get positive feedback much sooner. I love helping people.
My most memorable patient is a person who came to me and told me that she was 80-plus and had brought all of her medications to her doctor’s office and said, “Just give me the pills I need to live two weeks.” She came to me and said, “Now, fix me.” I was shocked and scared. However, after seeing her for many months, she completed her 100-mile bike ride.
Sounds like you have a fun menagerie at home? I am an animal lover and have five dogs; the youngest is 9. I have a Maine coon cat, a parrot and two horses. My oldest horse is 30 and her companion is a 3-year-old mini-horse.
You’re training the little guy to pull a cart? How do you start? He is now old enough and his bones are fully developed. First, he has to get accustomed to wearing all of the harnesses that are required to hook him up to a cart. Then he has to do ground work to teach him right, left, go and stop. Then you hook a cart behind him and go through the same ordeal. Eventually you start adding weight to the cart. Then you are both ready to go.
Where do you want to drive him? I have trails behind my house and then there’s a park down the road with 200 acres.