There are cynics who think you’d do as much good sticking bananas in your ears. Johanna Caprelian used to be one of them. When acupuncture was first suggested, she has a vision of Hellraiser and found the whole thing vaguely ludicrous. But the problem was that her shoulder was very stiff and her GP and physio were not being much help. “So in the end I said yes’” says Johanna. While her arm did improve, there was an unexpected bonus that has left Johanna signed up to acupuncture for probably the rest of her life.

“I’m a terrible insomniac and have been all my life. It’s no fun. Usually I’d get about three hours sleep a night, sometimes four, but it was always sporadic with lots of long waking spells.

“Sometimes I’d get so tires I could cry because there was nothing I could do about it. And about once a month I became do physically exhausted that I had to try something more drastic to knock myself out of a whole weekend just to give my body a rest,.”

As a result of her treatment, Johanna, 47, says her life quality has improved because she has even more energy than usual and feels generally more alert.

Which is saying a lot.

“I work between 14 and 16 hours a day,” she says, matter-of-factly.

The director of the Central Employment agency in Newcastle, she employs 15 staff and has a very hectic schedule to contend with a, and she and her husband run the GoldStar gym, a body building club in Heaton.

“I’m up very early – its quite good in some ways because I’ve got all my jobs done in the house while most people are still sleeping- and I’m in the office by about 7pm.

“I go home, and then go to the gym every evening which we run. I do a workout two or three times a week, and I help out in the reception. I haven’t got children but I’ve got a husband who needs feeding and all the rest of it.

“I love my work here – though it’s pure pressure and I’ve got a lot of respect for anyone who works in recruitment sales.”

Her introduction to acupuncture came very much as a last resort.

Born in London, there’s a lot of Cockney in Johanna’s voice though the 27 years she’s spent in Newcastle are not without their trace.

To say she’s lively is something of an understatement and though she clearly takes her work very seriously and can easily slip into the no-nonsense businesswoman role, she’s also the sort of person who can always see the funny side.

A year and a half ago she fell on the stairs at the gym.

“I’ve heard the expression having the wind taken out of you, but in all honesty I’d never experienced it until then. My arm and shoulder took the impact and it didn’t half hurt. But I got up and brushed myself down and never gave it another thought.”

There were no broken bones but when she got into her car to drive to work she was shaking like a leaf.” And I had a tiny little bruise on the elbow,” she recalls.

Not worth making a whole lot of fuss about. Or so she believed.

“A couple of weeks later, I thought: this is sore. But I’m quite a tough old thing and didn’t think of seeing a doctor for another month.” When she did go, he was rather dismissive.

She returned, two months later, when her arm was so stiff it was interfering with her day to day life, making even taking a shower awkward. The GP suggested and x-ray which came back clear.

But the arm got stiffer and stiffer , and on her next visit physio was recommended. The only problem was there was a waiting list of about six months.

“I thought I could be in the grave before that happened. And that’s how I ended up at the Sports Injury Clinic,” says Johanna.

“It wasn’t quite a sports injury but I did it in the gym,” she jokes. “But it wouldn’t be funny for some people. I don’t want to sound conceited, but it’s a good job I could pay for it. The private physio cost me £22 a go and I was having two sessions a week. Not everyone could afford that.”

There was some improvement but, after four months, her physiotherapist thought they were hitting a bit of a wall, and suggested Johanna go back to her GP.

“He said I had a frozen shoulder. He suggested physio,” she says.

She had another two months of treatment and was disheartened to find she was still unable to train at the gym and do her usual things.

Nearly a year had passed, and her GP agreed to send her to a specialist at the Freeman Hospital though the appointment would take six months to arrange.

Back at the Sports Injury Clinic, Johanna’s physio didn’t know what to do either. When she suggested acupuncture, Johanna wondered what she had left to lose.

“I was expecting this Kung-Fu looking artist but he, Feras Jerjis, was quite a different character altogether. I’d always thought acupuncture a very woolly kind of area, and when he stuck needles in my ankles and legs I wondered how on earth they were going to help with my shoulder but I let him get on with it anyway.

“I didn’t feel a thing. They’re very long and thin and he sort of thrusts them in quickly and then they vibrate. I had a couple of sessions with him and I thought something actually was happening.
“The bruising was coming out – he also used a small wooden hammer on my arm, a bit like the thing you use to make a steak more tender – and you could literally see the blood coming to the surface.

“If you felt the area it was solid, like a huge blood clot, and that’s what was breaking down.”

Johanna is particularly pleased about the way the acupuncture helped her insomnia.

She discussed it with Feras when he asked why she worked such long hours. He said he could maybe do something to help.

“I thought, how ridiculous,” she admits. “But then I let him try. He started sticking needles in different places in my body and in my ears. You feel different sensations in different parts of your body, like water moving down through it. You can hear the ones in your ears vibrating. It’s really weird.

“But since he started treating me I’m getting at least four hours sleep straight through, which is a huge improvement for me. The first time it happened I felt really heavy, like I’d overdosed on sleep, but now it feels great. I don’t know if it’s psychological or what but I don’t care. I’m going to keep going back, even if it’s just once a month for as long as it’s helpful.”

Eventually, Johanna’s appointment came through at the Freeman and the physiotherapist she saw there urged her to keep up the acupuncture.

“He’d actually worked quite a bit with Feras,” Johanna says. “And between them they’ve done a lot of good now. I have a lot more movement in my arm, but because of the acupuncture the great thing is I can sleep so much better. I never thought I’d be the one to say that.”

Comments closed.