Article Index

John A. Amaro D.C., FIAMA, Dipl.Ac., L.Ac.

Very recently I was one of the featured speakers at the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance Annual Conference and Expo held in Safety Harbor Florida on the outskirts of Tampa. It is here the early Spanish explorers thought they had found the fabled “Fountain of Youth” as the bubbling ground waters were revered by the natives for their healing abilities. A very fitting place to hold a conference centered on healing and harmony.

I was quite excited about my participation in this conference, as the acupuncture profession in general has been less than accepting of members of the medical or chiropractic profession involvement in acupuncture. The acupuncture profession feels that only people who graduate from their schools are properly trained and other professionals are inferior and should not practice. I thought this Conference would be a wonderful opportunity to bridge a gap, which had been created by misunderstanding, narrow thinking and the turf wars of who has the right to practice acupuncture. Even though I am a graduate of the Chinese Medical Institute (1976) a Diplomate of the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and a Licensed Acupuncturists in Arizona (L.Ac.). I am also a Doctor of Chiropractic, which is how the acupuncture profession views me regardless of my acupuncture accomplishments (see go to “faculty -Amaro”.

On the morning of my presentation, I was approached by the Executive Director asking if I had seen any pickets on the way into the Conference or encountered any trouble? Not knowing what she was talking about she explained. Apparently a group of licensed acupuncturists in Florida had e-mailed the majority of the acupuncture profession in the State advising them to boycott the Conference and to ask for volunteer pickets to march outside of the Conference Center to show their disdain for this national event. The reason? I was to be one of the speakers!!!!!

It has been deemed by this group and unfortunately many others in the acupuncture profession, that because we are D.C.’s or M.D.’s, our style of acupuncture and education is inferior to theirs. “There is absolutely nothing that can be learned from a D.C. because they are chiropractors and improperly trained” “Don’t try to teach me anything because you don’t know anything because you are a chiropractor”. In other words unless you attended their schools and practice their particular approach to acupuncture which can be considered to be based on ancient myth, folklore, shamanism and legend, there is no room for any other techniques or procedures. Their mantra is “My philosophy is the only true philosophy”, “My school is better than your school” “ I am trained and you are not”.

As I walked toward the room where my presentation was scheduled I have to admit it was quite a low point in my career. To come to the realization as one of the pioneers of acupuncture in this country following its 1972 introduction to be shunned by practitioners of the very art I went to court for, spent countless thousands of dollars for in legal and legislative activities, to be boycotted only because I am a Doctor of Chiropractic was about the final blow.

I told the officers of the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance that if my presence was going to cause a hardship for them I would not make my presentation. They insisted that I go on as scheduled, as they did not share the same viewpoints as this other group.

As I lectured it was hard to stay focused because I kept thinking about where my beloved profession of chiropractic could have progressed had it not been for this same type of absurdity and absolutely ridiculous in fighting of the profession. I couldn’t help but draw incredible parallels to the chiropractic profession from this incident. It has just been stupid philosophical differences which mean nothing except to a handful of people which have kept chiropractic in the cellar in regard to legislative, scientific and public acceptance. Now, I am seeing the same mentality in the acupuncture profession with philosophical differences, name-calling and academic accusations. It saddens me to see the same identical ego and greed inundate the acupuncture profession just as we have seen it in chiropractic.

I couldn’t help but take particular notice of the obvious frustration of two of my old friends Drs. James Edwards and Daryl Wills in their letter to the profession. These two doctors are the Chairman and President of the American Chiropractic Association who recently responded to an unfortunate incident of the World Chiropractic Association. I came to the realization I have known Jim Edwards for 30 years when we both practiced in Kansas and nothing has changed regarding professional unity in that entire time. The same issues we are dealing with today are what we dealt with then. Only the players have changed.

This madness has to stop. The energy which drives this animosity, ego and combativeness is totally self-destructive. The chiropractic profession deserves much better than this it needs to grow and prosper. The acupuncture profession deserves to grow and prosper. This can only be done with cooperation among those very few vital leaders who stand on some self-fabricated platform.

To the acupuncture profession I say “wake up and look around you” the last thing you want is to suffer for 70 years like the chiropractic profession has due to some egotistical nonsense mentality. To the chiropractic profession I say “please, for the future young doctors of chiropractic who just want to help sick people get well and to make a respectable living, pull it together, it is way past time. We could be so significant, so respected, so accepted it is truly up to just a handful of people”.

This boycott incident had quite an impact on me as I found myself thinking about it the rest of the evening. I couldn’t shake the fact this whole event was “evil” energy. No wonder the chiropractic profession has suffered as it has, as it is constantly being energized with this same type of evil while being delivered by the people who love it the most. How ironic!

The next morning I found myself thinking of the incident from the previous day on arising. Since my presentation had already been given, I suggested to my wife Dr Debra Richel, since we were in Florida and the weather was sensational, why not go to the beach for the day. She was more than happy to get an unscheduled day at the beach as we had previously planned on attending the conference. Since we lecture practically every week, playing hooky was a great idea.

It just so happens as a child growing up in New Jersey, her family would go to Florida every year in the family car on vacation. To spend the day on St. Petersburg beach would be a great thrill to relive some old childhood memories, kick back and just take a well deserved rest. Being the yang type of energies we both are, laying around reading a book on the beach does not come natural. After we walked four miles down the beach and obviously four miles back we decided to cool off in the gentle waves of St. Petersburg beach directly in front of the famous Don Cesar hotel if anyone knows the area. Being from Kansas City and living the last 17 years in the mountains outside of Phoenix, the ocean fascinates me. I was especially amused at watching the huge pelicans dive at incredible speeds into the water grab a fish and after a couple of seconds emerge with a meal.

The incident of the previous day was still on my mind and I found myself replaying the event as I continued to think about the fate of the acupuncture and chiropractic profession and the people and events who have kept our profession from its growth. As I stood in the water less than 100 feet from the shore I was gazing out to the horizon in contemplation when suddenly I heard screaming coming from a couple of girls off to my left side. Nothing unusual, kids scream at the beach. However, I realized these were not kids but grown adults screaming hysterically and running towards the beach. At this same time something hit me in the back with locomotive force knocking the breath from me and causing searing stabbing pain in my back just below the scapula. It could be heard as reported later as far away as the beach.

I just knew it had to be a pelican that had hit me on their dive into the water; however the pain I was experiencing was not consistent with a glance of a wing but seemed more intense. As I quickly turned around I saw something large and black in the water, which I still assumed was a pelican and would surface with his prize. However, the figure disappeared in a huge splash, apparently not a pelican.

Debra, who was just yards from me shouted “did you see that”? As I tried to catch my breath, I said no I had not seen anything but something just hit me in the back. As she examined my back her expression told the story. She reported I had 12 puncture wounds, eight on the top and four on the bottom each one was dripping blood. It was obviously time to get out of the water. The entire impression of a mouth was etched on my back.

Debra as well as the girls who were running for the beach screaming had apparently seen a blacktip shark moving through the water at high speed chasing another fish. It is this type of “feeding frenzy” which are involved in most shark encounters. The shark does not have humans on his menu, a great white shark, that’s a different story. This type of shark is chasing another fish when it either collides with a swimmer or perhaps decides to go after the easy target.

As I exited the water onto the beach I will have to say the scene was quite dramatic. I found it amusing how many people were picking up their belongings and literally running off of the beach. Several people examining my wound were on the verge of collapse at the thought and sight. People were insisting I sit down and to call the paramedics. The wound did not require stitches, as it was as if one were to jab someone with a large serving fork. In this case, 12 prongs.

Since that time I have developed an interest in sharks that I had not had before this incident. I have learned this type of attack is reported approximately 30 times a year globally. However, how many cases are not reported as I did not report this one. The main problem with these types of encounters is that 85% of these incidents are fatal as the human form is primarily composed of limbs as in two long arms and two long legs along with a neck and head and relatively compact torso. If a shark is going to bite, it has more chances it will bite into a limb than a torso. When a shark pulls back after the bite it simply just rips straight back. Tearing to shreds, ligaments, tendons, nerves and of course arteries. Most people bleed to death before treatment can be rendered. To say I was fortunate would be an understatement.

I am fully recovered. It was just one week of pain and an additional week of intense itching. This was a small price to pay for something that had the potential to be so serious.

I have pondered this event at some length as to its intensity and wonder “why”? I cannot help to wonder if the extremely negative focus of the day prior, if the concern for my professions and the people who make them up had something to do with this. Was I so focused on “evil” energy that this is what can develop? Do we in fact draw into our lives those people, places and things dependent upon what we dwell upon? Had I been thinking of lightness and good and harmony and balance would this event not have happened? Obviously these are questions of the ages, there will never be an answer, however, something tells me maybe I do in fact know the answer.

It’s summer time, those of you going to the seashore, don’t be afraid to get into the water, just be sure you are happy and focused on good instead of evil. Have fun!

John A. Amaro D.C., FIAMA, Dipl.Ac., L.Ac.
Carefree, Arizona