In 2004, I married Page Buchanan, who had become my best friend, and our son William was born soon after. Since this was my first marriage, I was excited to change my name and join the Buchanan clan. After William’s birth, my husband Page accepted the role of stay-at-home-father for two years to focus on building my practice. In late 2004, a local HMO hired me to provide acupuncture at their clinic and assist with creating this new department. In 2005, I started Isthmus Acupuncture Center in downtown Madison.
From word of mouth, my private and HMO practices quickly grew, and my reputation as a fertility enhancement and pregnancy care specialist became well-known. To meet the needs of the community, other highly skilled exceptional healers joined Isthmus Acupuncture Center.
In 2006, I ended my 15-year career as an accountant and embraced our growing healing center’s business needs. I enjoyed teaching the other acupuncturists palpation style treatments to ensure continuity of care with our shared clients. We quickly outgrew our six-room space and expanded to serve the community. By 2014, Isthmus Acupuncture grew to become the largest acupuncture clinic in the Midwest and employed 19 people, including nine full-time acupuncturists and massage therapists, provided hundreds of weekly treatments, and helped thousands of people improve their health naturally.
In 2009, our clinic incorporated essential oils, and my personal health improved dramatically. My clients felt significant benefits when I added essential oils to their treatments. When oils were not used, they commented that their treatments were not as effective. After months of studying the chemical properties of the essential oils, I categorized them into traditional Chinese medical terms and began testing them to determine which acupuncture meridians they supported. After we included the oils in our practice, we became so busy that we were forced to turn away people due to lack of space and over-full schedules.
In 2011, we moved to our final location with a classroom and fifteen treatment rooms. I discovered how much I enjoyed teaching, and others kept telling me it was one of my God-given talents. I began writing outlines for workshops that would later turn into books. The experience gained here allowed me to develop my teaching style. In June of 2015, the community voted Michelle Buchanan and Isthmus Acupuncture Center as Madison’s Favorite Alternative Healthcare Providers, and we reached the height of our success.
As the practice grew, most of my days consisted of interviewing, hiring, managing support staff, and bookkeeping. My passion for teaching and working with clients was subdued as the stress of managing a staff of over fifteen consumed my days, my thoughts, and left me sleepless at night. When I fell off a horse and was forced to take a seven-week timeout, it became clear that Isthmus Acupuncture was unable to survive in the current business structure. I returned to work to find staff turnover, a decline in business, a financial disaster from attempting to accept insurance, and structural issues causing the building’s foundation to become compromised, making it crystal clear it was time for me to end Isthmus Acupuncture. With love and support, my husband encouraged me to make the difficult decision to close the business and practice from my home on Madison’s east side.
I spent the next nine months dealing with the closing of the practice and regaining my sense of self. I had given so much of myself to the business that I needed a full year to regain my strength, reignite my passion for teaching, and find a new business model to build the next phase of my career. The amount of compassion, understanding, and patience that my husband and two sons, Michael and William, shared with me during this time healed my broken spirit. It encouraged me to move into the next phase of life as an author and educator.