Out Health: Winter wellness

Courtney Winter at Winter Wellness
Courtney Winter at Winter Wellness in Old Bridge.

A doctor once called me a wuss. She’s right. I am a wuss. Or at least I used to be much more than I am now, especially concerning sharp metal coming near my skin.

The first time I had to have blood taken I had to lie down so I wouldn’t pass out, while the paper covering the exam table became soaked with my sweat. But a friend recommended that I try acupuncture after failing to control with medication several issues I was having with acid reflux. So I tried it. It surprised me how much my issues subsided after the acupuncturist got my stress under control. Also, I can’t believe how nonchalant I am now around needles. Which led me to ask an acupuncturist about it.

I met Courtney Winter, of Winter Wellness Acupuncture in Old Bridge, while delivering Out In Jersey magazines to her clinic. I remarked to her that she’s the perfect type of person to treat a wuss like me. She responded, “I actually love treating people who are scared of needles, and I always say that if they can summon the courage to walk through my door, I can get them comfortable with the process. I know that when people talk about needles and their fear associated with them, they aren’t referring to my tools. Acupuncture needles are so thin that they’re almost hair fine. They don’t hurt when they are going in. They don’t hurt once they are in. There isn’t pain associated with it, like there is with an IV or a vaccination. Plus there are the lovely ‘side effects’… Endorphin release. Acupuncture causes that. They leave feeling amazing and looking forward to their next session.”

Courtney was very happy to tell me about her experience. “I have a pretty extensive educational background. I did my undergraduate studies in biology and my master’s in acupuncture and traditional chinese medicine. I spent about a month studying at an integrative hospital in China, and I have been practicing Acupuncture for over 10 years. Prior to becoming an acupuncturist I was an EMT for about 10 years.

“I love the healthcare field,” Winter said. “I love working with patients and making them feel better.”

I noticed that her clinic was different than some I had been in. She explained, “I have more of a spa-like setting in my clinic. I work very hard to make it a calm, welcoming, and relaxing environment from the lighting to the music. I make sure it is an inclusive environment. Because everyone comes from different backgrounds and has different experiences, I don’t want them to feel othered. I want them to feel at home here. It’s really important to me.”

I felt at home with Courtney and her office. She continued, “I think that as a gay woman I understand the healthcare disparities that the LGBTQ community faces. I know there can be a fear of discrimination, ignorance and bias when it comes to our healthcare. I’ve dealt with it myself. We are definitely an underserved population.

Courtney Winter at Winter Wellness
Courtney Winter at Winter Wellness in Old Bridge.

The things I treat the most are pain, anxiety, and fertility. I love working with fertility families that look like mine. We’re also hitting the holidays now and I know that is a stressful time for a lot of LGBTQ+ people because they have to deal with family that doesn’t support them or because they don’t have family to deal with at all. I love helping ease people through their anxiety and balancing their hormones (serotonin and dopamine). It is something acupuncture is really good at. I’ve been in their shoes for this one. I know what it’s like, so I always have an open ear to listen.”

The acupuncturists I’ve been to are similar to Courtney in many ways. Kind. Caring. Helpful. With their guidance I have benefited from acupuncture. I’m still a wuss, I suppose, but a much healthier one.