Ahh...acupuncture, that weird word that conjures up images of Asian doctors with their "game faces" on, their eyes as sharp as the needles that they oh-so-gently insert into the patient's skin. The patient seems so serene, resembling a porcupine still in hibernation. Clearly, we must be missing something, Like needles are supposed to be fun for those in the know, right?
I am in the know. And it's all just a myth. All needles hurt, even the ones that are tinier than a strand of my hair. So, how did I find myself lying on a table and being completely calm about getting poked five times in each shoulder?
Let me back up.
A few days ago, I was asked by my physical therapist if I wanted to try acupuncture as part of my treatment regimen for my work-related shoulder injuries.
What the heck? I thought. I don't have to pay for it.
"Well, okay," I told her.
"I highly recommend it," said my therapist. After volunteering to be stabbed with little needles, I was beginning to think I needed a different sort of therapist.
48 hours later, my nerves were feeling rather, well, nervy. I wondered why I had agreed to such a thing. Then I stopped wondering because I figured out that it was just part of my impulsive nature. I really need to protect myself from myself, but I don't think anyone wants that job because most people won't accept humor as payment. I'd have it made if they did.
I arrived on time to the second of my twice-a-week appointments, and I felt a strange sort of calm take over, for about three and a half seconds. Then that feeling like my stomach was being sucked empty by an old Electrolux vacuum returned.
"Come on, Andria; you can handle this," I thought, trying to turn off the suction feeling. "It can't be worse than getting a shot, right?"
Have I mentioned how much I hate shots? Unless they're the kind you can drink, I'm just not interested.
I was soon led into a patient room of the physical therapy clinic, which I didn't take as a good sign, since all my appointments up to then had been in the gym area where everyone else was.
"How are you today?" asked Craig, the guy who was going to turn me into a porcupine, or so I thought.
"Greeaaaaaat," I mumbled, wondering how far the jump from the window to the ground would be.
"So," said Craig, "I hear this will be your first experience with acupuncture."
I nodded, and after having to sign a waiver that stated that I could not hold the facility accountable for a collapsed lung, we began.
Basically, acupuncture involves using tiny needles under the skin to stimulate parts of the body under the skin. Translation: Insert, dig, repeat, ouch. Strangely, as I just found out, there's no scientific evidence to prove that it works. Most believe it's placebo effect. Perhaps I should have swallowed a Tic-tac and imagined it to be Percocet, because the "light pinch" I was warned I was going to feel was more like a "medium pinch." Then, there came a weird sensation that I can hardly even describe. Tingling, with a bit of pulsation, with a mini-shot of dull pain that my entire body felt. It was tolerable, just strange.
"Needle-less" to say, I was relieved after the eighth needle was removed, and I was released from the facility. They told me that I could begin to feel pain relief in about two days, so stay tuned for "Putting the Punch in Acupuncture-Part 2."