During the intake process on an initial acupuncture visit, the word normal is used many times by a patient. I thought to myself one day, what is “normal” and looked up the definition. On many websites, both noun and verb descriptions sound so negative. If you look up the word normal, you will see definitions such “not abnormal”, “average in psychological trait”, “free from infection or disease or malformation”.

With this in mind, I try to have a patient change their mind set and use words like regular, routine or common. So when a patient uses the word normal, I get into a deeper discussion. For example, a patient may say they have challenges with their sleep schedule which is “normally from 2am to 11am.” You may be thinking wow this patient should go to bed at 10pm to get better sleep. However, there are individuals who are musicians or work 12 hours shifts and rotate, like police officers so they can not go to bed every night the same time or at 10pm. This does not mean they are not “normal”, it simply demonstrates their “regular sleep cycle” is a different time than your sleep schedule.

This is what I love about acupuncture and the theory behind a treatment plan. The elite group of patients I work with have taught me a lot. I can have five patients with low back pain and all five patients may have different treatment plans based on their answers to the intake questions.

Back to the original question, “Honestly, is that normal?” The answer is absolutely! People come from different countries, states, backgrounds… jobs, no jobs, have kids, no kids, pets, no pets but when we are together we all have one common goal, to be healthy. You are unique in your own way so essentially no one fits the description of “normal”. Next time you hear the word, “normal” or use it, try to think of a more positive word replacement.

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