Local artist pieces life back together with acupuncture

Paynesville artist Cal Davidson repurposes wood to make mosaic sculptures. He finds materials along the road, in dumpsters and even at the end of his driveway when community members donate plywood, frames, croquet balls, spindles, baseball bats and other odds and ends.

From these scraps, he starts with pieces that catch his eye and then he begins to assemble and manipulate them until the art takes on a life of its own. Cal likes to work with shape, form and color, but never has a predetermined idea of how the project will finish. “If you do that, you cut yourself short and put yourself into a box,” said Cal. “My work isn’t neat and tidy, but I like the process of starting with a mess and putting something together.”

For Cal, his medical history has been messy, too. It began 30 years ago when he acquired cauda equina syndrome, a rare and dangerous neurological disorder caused when something compresses the spinal nerve roots. Without fast treatment, it can lead to incontinence and possibly permanent paralysis of the legs. It was the first of 14 surgeries on Cal’s neck and back. “I have so much metal and so many screws in me, if I go into a hardware store, they’d want to put me on a shelf,” joked Cal.

Jokes aside, Cal recovered, but it led to residual migraines, muscle spasms and pain. He sought help, but nothing had the long-lasting results he desired. “The pain was literally killing me, but when they suggested acupuncture, I was skeptical. How could needles help?” asked Cal. Acupuncture is a complementary medicine that stimulates points in the body to alleviate pain or treat certain medical conditions.

With nothing to lose, Cal decided to try acupuncture at Lifestyle Health. He arrived at his first appointment with a migraine. “The pain was so bad I thought my head would explode. Noise and light would put me up the wall and down the other side. It was debilitating,” said Cal.

He left that appointment pain free and became a believer in the healing effects of acupuncture. He now continues to get acupuncture every few weeks for maintenance care.

His acupuncturist, Nedda Greer, finds it rewarding to see Cal’s progress. “His type of artwork is quite physical, so it can be demanding of his body. I’m so happy my treatment allows him to continue to do what he loves,” said Nedda.

For Cal, the acupuncture allows him to focus longer on his art. When in pain, he wasn’t able to be in his studio for the time he needed for the creative process. “Creativity takes time to warm up, but once you get going, time can go quickly. You can see the sun rise and sun set, but not notice the time in between because you’re having so much fun.”