By Steven Bonifazi
(DENVER, Colo.) When former professional tennis player and coach Chris Hanson was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS) in 2008, his life would never be the same.
After years of constant intense pain, isolating himself from the world and feeling like he had no purpose nor identity, Chris reconnected on Facebook with his lifelong friend, Tracey Abbott. Chris and Tracey met in 1983 in Birmingham, Alabama when they were both in the fourth grade and went on to know each other until Tracey left Alabama for college.
When Tracey saw a Facebook picture of Chris with a cane, they reconnected and Tracey began to help Chris with his battle against PPMS. She had him start a walking plan and when he couldn’t find relief through traditional medicine, acupuncture produced amazing results.
"Starting off managing this disease years ago, I had no choice but to get into medication to lower my blood pressure and things, which led me to alternative ways of healing. If I wake up one day in extreme pain, I know it's time to get acupuncture because within an hour I will feel better and walk better," Chris said. "I imagined if it could help me this much, it could help other folks a whole lot."
Chris's first time getting acupuncture was in 2015. Less than a year later, the couple got married on January 1, 2016, with Chris walking unassisted down the aisle with his new wife.
Tracey and Chris went on to found and open Refuge Acupuncture on April 5 this year, an 800-patient monthly capacity clinic in the LoHi area of Denver specializing in acupuncture therapy and Chinese herbal medicine to create more healing in the world to people like her husband Chris. They both believe that the healing that acupuncture and herbs provide is space and time for the body to heal itself.
Tracey told NewsBreak:
Chris's neurologist passed away yesterday, but he gave us a phrase we love and use at Refuge. Chris asked if the medicine he was taking was making him better, and the doctor said it's not the medicine, it's your body giving space and time to heal itself," said Tracey. "To get to the root cause of imbalance and then redirect energy into alignment - that's what acupuncture does."
At Refuge, patients are educated on how to take active roles in their healthcare by utilizing customized treatments. While some clinics may charge different prices for different treatments such as cupping, gua sha and acupuncture, Refuge prides itself in making it's business more about what a patient needs rather than nickels and dimes.
Working with all types of herbs and needles, Refuge offers relief to patients struggling with everything from acute and chronic pain, stress and anxiety (mental health), women’s health and fertility, sleep and insomnia and even digestive health.
The clinic stands out from others as it offers walk-in capabilities due to its capacity capabilities. They book out well during the week but can treat someone the day of due if they wake up with a headache or pain due to the extra capacity while appointments can often take a month at other clinics.
The majority of Refuge's patients are booked patients that come in from Google or Instagram, but many of them are from one of the many partnerships they have, such as that with Colorado Pain Care, one of Denver's leading pain management practices. They have additionally been deemed an observation clinic for one of the oldest Chinese medicine schools in the state, the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The clinic's extremely unique interior space was based on the famous medicinal book, Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine.
The entire space is two floors, with the upstairs being representative of heaven. This is where patients check-in, fill out paperwork or even sip a little tea. The downstairs reflects Earth and is where treatment takes place with a total of four treatment rooms.
There are elevators between the floors for patients with mobility challenges. Chris and Tracey even had a local Denver graffiti artist paint his rendition of heaven to use the community and artwork to create a space that welcomes all.
Nowadays, Chris finds himself working on his PPMS day to day, using a cane, despite believing that it has got better. Nevertheless, he and Tracey find that the most rewarding thing about owning and operating Refuge is making people feel better.
"Having something we created that puts good out to the world, that heals people with their illnesses, no matter how small or large," said Chris. "The results are you’ll feel better and that makes me happy that we can help people in this life as hard as it could be."
For more information regarding Refuge Acupuncture and Chris and Tracey's story, click here.
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