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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Getting Pins and Needles Stuck in Me: My Experience with Acupuncture

Today, I went to this Chinese Medicine Clinic or Hospital as they call it. They deal in holistic healing and most of all, what I couldn't wait to try, acupuncture. Yes, where they stick in a bunch of needles in you, and somehow through feeling like an intruder into a porcupine cage, you become healed. I do not know how this process works. And I guess there are plenty of skeptics out there. But I do know that this practice has been around for thousands of years and the concept is quite common over here. And cheap. So, I thought to get my sinuses and my nasty cough healed through pretending, for a brief 15 minutes, to be a pin cushion.

There's this lady that works as a receptionist for my school, and I was told to ask her about the phenomena for I heard that she was a regular customer of this ancient practice. I didn't need to give her any secret codes nor handshakes, I just stressed my interest. And today, she told me in broken English that she will take me today after school. I said okay. I hardly know this lady. Our relationship has been limited to her signifying to me when the downstairs coffee machine is not working. I think her name is Mrs. Ming. But I trust her. And off we went.

Now, I've had something like a cold almost the full time that I've been here. And that's been over a month now. Coughing in the middle of class making the kids think that I could keel over and die any minute. I fill my waste basket full of kleenexes. I consume packages of cough candy per week. So you can bet, I am willing to try a good deal of anything. But also, I am very curious about this whole needle in the body business. And probably even if I didn't have any symptoms, I'd secretly want to get some kind of ailment so that I could go and try it out.

We arrived in a normal doctor's office. The receptionist got my information, through the help of Mrs. Ming. And then we walk back to the doctor's main office. Tons of books on the shelf, and this intelligent, bespeckled man in a lab coat greeted me. Mrs. Ming tells him my symptoms. I notice this ancient tome opened up on his desk. Maybe it was some talisman of magical properties. But he motioned for me to step over to a little bed and he stuck some modern metallic thing up my nose. It was some sort of camera for he took pictures of what was going on inside my nostrils that showed up on this large screen, as though Mrs. Ming and anyone else out in the lobby peeking in the room would care to see.

Next, he told me to go in the back and that's where the real treatment began. They told me to take off my socks and shoes and lay on this firm, heated bed. I could feel the heat surround my body, then they placed rolled up towels under my knees to elevate them a bit. Next, they rubbed, i think it was alchohol on certain points on my body. And that's when they broke out the needles.

Was I nervous? Yes, a little. I was told to sit as still as possible. And whenever anyone is going to stick needles in me, I always try to think about something else. I never, never think about what all could possibly go wrong. It's only if I do that I get scared. Why, in a normal doctor's office, have you ever thought that all it takes is just one slight centimeter off and the wrong artery is punctured and all of a sudden blood is spurting all over the place. Yes, its thoughts like those that I try desperately to block out when needles are concerned.

But with acupuncture needles, they are very, very small. I barely felt them inserted. They (the doctor and his nurse who was the receptionist also) placed two on my outer knees and then two more near my elbows. And then, they got dangerous. They approached my face. Placing two right below where a unibrow would sit if I had one. I tried to fight with all my might to get any images of needles stabbing an eyeball out of my mind. All this, to keep from wincing. Then, they pierced out from my nose parallel to my nostrils, though towards my cheekbones. And finally, two more were speared where my lips raise with a smile or a smirk.

They put this hot lamp on me and told me to sit as still as possible for the next 15 minutes. They covered my eyes with cloth and walked out of the room and I lay there, experiencing those notorious waiting periods that always seem like hours. One of my legs was going to sleep and I didn't want to move lest the whole thing should be messed up.

Eventually, they came back and took all the needles back out and I was told I could go. That was it. I paid the doctor's bill. But it wasn't as cheap as I initially thought. Because, for some reason, I don't have my insurance card just yet. I should have it very soon, though. So the price which was supposed to be only about 5 bucks. Was more like 30. Which is still alot cheaper than anything whether western or holistic, whether legit or quackery, in the states. So I guess I am content. The only problem is that they told me that with something so big and general as "allergies" they said that frequent visits are needed to make any headway. Like a few weeks of visits. Which normally would only cost about 5 dollars per consulation. So, I'm sorta waiting for my insurance card to be cleared, for I'm sure not paying 30$ a day for this. But we'll see how it goes. As for now, I hope they took all my needles out, what if they forgot and I'm walking around with this large pin sticking out of my face.


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