Adventures in Accupuncture

How does a wuss like me end up voluntarily participating in something involving needles and the word “puncture?” This is what I am thinking as I fill out my medical history in the incense-filled waiting room. No, I’m not scared. The back pain has gotten so severe that I don’t care what they do to me. Putty in their hands.

The questionnaire is the usual. What “western medications” are you taking, how many times have you been pregnant, etc. OK, where does it hurt? Apparently each area of your body is connected to an internal organ. You mean I can blame my bad breath on my spleen? Cool. I’m liking this so far. A middle-aged woman with a walker shuffles out of the back office toward the receptionist. I secretly hope that she arrived in a wheelchair and this is an improvement.

After turning in my paperwork, I’m escorted to the exam? room. I take a seat across from a massage table covered in that same paper roll they have at the doctor’s office. Three posters on the wall show the various pressure points. I am particularly interested in the one that shows the full male body, half front, half back. These posters better be for my information and not serve as a cheat sheet for the acupunturist. I wonder what I’m supposed to call this guy. He’s not a doctor. Mr. So? Calvin? “Hey, Cal, baby!”

Just then he comes in the room. We shake hands. Mr. So sits on a chair on the other side of the room, the massage table between us. We spend some time going over my history and my present. He takes my right wrist from across the table to, he says, take my pulse. He quickly takes my left wrist. Am I dead? Cal then tells me to stick out my tongue. He writes down the color. Gross. We talk about my knees. He explains that my “cartawidge” is wearing down and asks me to remind him to show me a massage that will help. He decides that most of my problems are stress related and come from a war going on between spleen and my heart, which have a mother-son relationship. Great. Life imitating health.

I am then instructed to take off my shoes and my glasses. I’m relieved I don’t have to undress. Probably not as relieved as he is. I lie on my stomach and put my face in the hole. He moves a folding chair under the opening in case I want to hold on to it. The only comfortable position for my hand and arms is the “Thriller” claws attached to the end of the table. I feel ridiculous. Looking through the hole, I see an eyelash. Must have been left by the previous occupant. Grody. I close my eyes.

Mr. So tells me he’s going to start inserting the needles and will say where as he goes. “Right shoulder.” A little poke. Then twisting. Ew, the needle is actually being screwed into my flesh. Surprisingly, it doesn’t hurt. He continues down my back and is able to cover up the needles with my shirt after they’re inserted.

My eye begins to itch. I so want to scratch, but can’t decide if I should lift my head and rub my eye or try to get my claw through the hole. Is this how the last patient lost his eyelash? I ignore the itch as there are stranger things going on.

He pulls down my skirt to get to my hips and bottom. “Right butt.” “Left butt.” Now he starts the “stimulation” and asks me to tell him when I feel each area, so he can control the amount. All’s well until the last needle on my hip. Ouch! Too much, too much. He turns it down.

Heat lamps and strange gonging music are turned on. Lights out. Cal, baby, leaves the room. I start to relax. Well, I am as relaxed as one can be with perpetual gonging in the background. I imagine how crazy I must look. I hope there isn’t a fire. How will I get out? Will all these needles still be attached both to me and the source of the stimulation? Can I get my hands out of the “Thriller” claw position? It’s five days before Halloween. Would anyone think my appearance odd?

Fifteen minutes after he left, Mr. So returns. Bye bye, heat lamp and gonging. Hello, bright light. The needles are removed. Am I supposed to get up? I tentatively lift my head. A warm blanket is placed on me. Head down. Calvin starts rubbing back, shoulders, knees, everywhere I was pierced. This is nice.

And now, it’s all over. Mr. So helps me up. I finally get to rub my eye. I find my glasses and my shoes. “How do you feel?” I tell him I feel great. He asks me if I’m opposed to herbs. I say as long as they aren’t dangerous for my soon-to-be pregnancy. He urges me to work on the stress before getting pregnant.

I’m given a small bottle of BB-shaped pills and am instructed to take seven three times a day after meals and to see how I do on the herbs before having another treatment. I thank him and we say our goodbyes.

Will I go back? Absolutely. I felt amazing afterward. Besides, how else will I find out what to call him?

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