Froggy’s Tale: An Acupuncture Success Story
Written by Diana Hermann, L.Ac.
Originally written for The Healing Path magazine August 2004
“Hey, Di…I need your help.” Casey, my veterinarian friend, called me from the emergency vet hospital she worked at one unassuming day in May 1999. “I have a litter of kittens we have to euthanize if we can’t find a home for them.”
“Put ‘em in a box…I’ll be there in ten minutes.” That hasty reply changed my life forever. Four little kittens had lost their mother at the vulnerable age of only 2 ½ weeks old and were delivered to the vet hospital because the littlest of the kittens appeared to be injured. X-rays and further physical examinations revealed that this littlest kitty had severe birth defects. Not only had she been born without a tail, additionally her sacrum was bizarrely deformed and she was missing her last lumber vertebra. I had no idea of the extent of problems she would soon have to overcome.
I took the little tykes home with explicit instructions on how to care for them at this early stage in their lives. They needed a hot water bottle to keep them warm, as they still did not have the ability to regulate their own body temperature. They needed to be bottle-fed and needed help going to the bathroom every four hours. I had to be the mama cat and I quickly discovered this was no easy task. But this was the least of my concerns. The littlest kitten’s deformities were quite severe. She was unable to walk and would grip the carpet with her front claws and drag her little belly across the floor. Her hind legs were splayed out to the sides of her body and were completely useless. She looked like a furry tadpole that had just grown flimsy little legs. I named her Froggy.
While her siblings were discovering how to run and jump and climb things, little Froggy struggled to drag herself around, determined to keep up with them. You could sense her frustration and it was heart wrenching. Fortunately for Froggy, I was an enthusiastic intern in acupuncture school and I was always looking for new challenges. We started acupuncture treatment right away and I treated her every other day. I chose acupuncture points in her hips, legs, lower back and scalp. Body needles were retained for about 10 minutes. The scalp needles, which correspond to various parts of the brain responsible for motor skills and sensory perception, were left in longer while we did physical therapy to develop the muscles in her hind legs. As it turned out, one group of muscles in her legs were not simply underdeveloped; they were non-existent. But remarkably, after less than one month of acupuncture and kitty physical therapy, Froggy gained use of her legs. She did not have independent hind leg movement so she hopped around like a bunny rabbit…and she soon became just as fast as one. After one and a half months of treatment, Froggy was able to run and jump and play with her brothers and sister. And she was happy.
Time went on and further effects of Froggy’s deformities became evident. Some of the nerves feeding the lower half of her body were also apparently damaged, including the nerve that supplied the large intestine. At just a year old, Froggy’s large intestine stopped functioning completely. We tried every medical intervention known with little result. A subtotal colectomy (removal of her colon) was her only hope.
Before surgery could be scheduled, we met with a neurological specialist to determine if Froggy was even a candidate for the procedure. After careful examination of her x-rays and physical exams (including a manual pelvic exam) the specialist looked confused. He looked at her x-rays again…he looked at her. He then turned to me and said, “How in the hell is a cat this deformed able to be this functional?!”
“Acupuncture,” I replied.
“Amazing,” he stammered. He insisted I take video footage of her so he could present her case to colleagues and students of his. He admitted that with her level of structural, mechanical and neurological problems, it was impossible to know if she would survive surgery let alone have a functioning digestive tract afterwards. But Froggy was determined to live and so we went ahead with the surgery.
Recovery was messy and painful, but Froggy persevered. Acupuncture played a role in speeding her healing and we soon realized the surgery had been a success. She was hopping around again in no time. Four years later, the Little Frog maintains an unbridled zest for living and the snuggly nuzzles she gives me (at every opportunity she gets!) makes it clear that she is grateful for her life. She truly is my best success story.
UPDATE 2010: Froggy lived for over 10 years and brought so much joy to my life and everyone who met her. I am in the process of writing a series of children's books about her life and her adventures. I hope Froggy's tale will inspire children to overcome their own handicaps and to bring their spirit to the world in way that makes every life they touch even richer, just like my beloved little Froggy did. I will make an announcement when the books officially get published.
Diana Hermann, LAc.
Diana Hermann, Licensed Acupuncturist, practices acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine (for humans) in Fort Collins and Loveland, Colorado. She holds a master’s degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and is certified in Oriental Medicine by the NCCAOM. Diana continued her post-graduate training with clinical internships in the affiliated hospitals of the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China. You can contact her at (970) 416-9600 or visit www.AcupunctureoftheRockies.com .