Laying back in a reclining chair, Joseph Derkacz closes his eyes and gives all his trust to Langford acupuncturist Jean-Paul Thuot.
Being quiet and gentle, Thuot carefully inserts nearly hair-thin needles into Derkacz’s hands, stomach and legs. Before Thuot leaves the room, one final needle is inserted into his forehead.
During the procedure Derkacz lays motionless, not even a flinch.
Derkacz, 31, a stay-at-home dad, lives with multiple sclerosis and has also been struggling with gastrointestinal issues, anxiety and depression.
He has spent a lot of time in doctors offices looking for help. Standing nearly five-foot-11 his weight had plummeted to 134 pounds. His doctors were concerned and he decided to give acupuncture a try.
“It makes a huge difference and I notice it immediately,” said Derkacz. “It hasn’t cured me, but it’s made a dramatic difference as far as coping.”
Derkacz has been going to Stillpoint Community Acupuncture clinic in Langford since September, which operates on a sliding scale. Each acupuncture treatment can cost between $17 and $45, it’s up to the client. People pay as much money as they can afford.
“It’s so hard to tap into alternative healing with the costs.” Derkacz said. “There is no way I could have afforded to come two or three times a week.”
Thuot, Stillpoint’s owner, said the clinic is able to operate this way because the acupuncture is given in a communal setting. For privacy, each new client meets with Thuot in a private room to discuss their issue, but are treated in the communal space.
Thuot, a West Shore native who volunteers with Langford Fire Rescue, began studying acupuncture in Victoria and then went to Taiwan to study for four years, moving there with his wife and son. It was in Taiwan that Thuot witnessed community acupuncture and realized he could help more people in the same amount of time.
“Now instead of getting $100 an hour from one person, six people can (share the cost),” Thuot said. “It’s so everyone can (have access) to acupuncture. Even if you have a beefy benefits plan, it will allow five to six treatments only. You can only get half a course until the benefits run out.”
Thuot is excited to see people trying acupuncture who before wouldn’t have considered it. “I feel like I am finally in the right place,” Thuot said.
On top of offering the sliding scale option at the clinic, Thuot has also started offering free treatments every third Friday for a donation of a healthy food item, with the next session this Friday, Feb. 17. All food items are donated to families in need who are striving to eat healthier.
On the last food donation day in January, Thuot requested his patients bring in gluten-free foods to for a hamper they were creating for a family with a celiac child.
Thuot has turned to the Internet using websites such as UsedVictoria.com, to find families who want to eat healthy but cannot afford it. He also gives the donated food to the Goldstream Food Bank.