I’m at the juncture to try acupuncture

Apparently I have too much yin and not enough yang, or so the Doctor is telling me. He sits across from me, pondering, in his white coat and spectacles. He looks like the kind of guy that would play the villain in one of the 1960s Bond films (the Sean Connery ones), merely due to his ethnicity and the way he is dressed. But, (thus far), I trust him. He is asking me loads of questions about my diet, my sleeping patterns, my stools (not the sort you sit on) etc etc and I, in the meantime, am thinking up every symptom that I have, or think I might have as I am curious as to the extent of what he may be able to resolve that conventional medicine can’t.

I have been sent here by Monsta who has been chewing my ear off about Doctor Tim for weeks, as she is a patient and swears by him.

My immediate concerns are my knees — I damaged the miniscus of my right one a year ago while dancing at Eude’s wedding in Greece (don’t ask!) and despite 3 months of NHS physio rehab, it still causes me pain; and the left knee aches, due to my needing to over-compensate for the right. I also have an underactive thyroid for years for which I have been receiving thyroxine medication. This has coaxed my thyroid into carrying out its basic function and all the periodic blood results that I get back, tell me that I am “normal.” Well then, I should be feeling normal, right? But I am still lacking that spark, that zing, that je ne sais quoi. Coupled with my NHS physiotherapist who suggested to me that I may not ever be able to straighten my knee again and would that bother me? Yes, actually it would. So, the most I’ve got to lose is a few hundred bucks. I’m going to give it a go for a few weeks and see how it goes.

After the questions, he feels the pulse on my right wrist. “Mm,” he says cyptically.

“What?” I fire back, inquisitively.

“You’ve got a weak kidney” (Wtf?) “How many glasses of water do you drink per day?”

“Er….I don’t actually drink much water….maybe a glass?” (if that!…shhh reader, that’s our secret)

Now he’s laughing which I take to mean “You stupid idiot, no wonder you feel like shit” and then he sort of confirms this by telling me how water is the oil that the body needs to perform…blah blah. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against water but it just never crosses my mind except to use as an ingredient to make, say a cup of tea. Otherwise, I think of a soft drink (that’s got water in it, right?). or sometimes a spirit and mixer (and ice is water, after all). But he tells me he wants me to drink a litre of water a day, so I write it down next to the one apple and two pears and the three or four types of vegetables he wants me to eat with each meal. I consider that I am destined to spend the next 12 months, peeling carrots.

After feeling the pulse on the other wrist, he tells me that I’m stressed which he can’t understand as I’m supposed to be on holiday but this makes sense to me, after all that has taken place in the past few months.

He also says my stomach has too much heat and says something about too much acid. I am trying to keep up with the diagnosis but I have to be honest that some of it (most of it) goes over my head. But that’s no different from when I see my GP back home or if a mechanic tells you what’s wrong with your car engine. I decide that there’s some technical stuff that I don’t really need to understand, as long as I adhere to the practical steps that lead to a solution.

We’ve been talking for well over an hour and there are some bits of my body that we haven’t really touched on, but I decide to leave them for another day, as we have got enough to begin with and I sense he wants to start stabbing me.

I am laying on the couch with my trousers and socks off, and a towel round my middle. The stainless steel needles are about the length of a sewing needle but a mere fraction of the width. Let’s just say that if you were looking for these needles in a haystack, it would take you about five or six times as long. As he inserts them, it just feels like he’s tapping my skin with his finger. He informs me that in ancient times, they used to use shards of stone, instead of needles, which makes me think that somehow it was a lot more painful and bloody then. (not a trace of my blood is spilled this time). He puts a couple in my temple, one on each hand between the thumb and forefinger and a couple somewhere on each foot (I can’t see that far down the couch). Then he puts a few on my stomach to apparently focus on the kidney region, to which he adds a bit of gauze to a couple and sets them alight. This makes me laugh and my belly convulses and he nearly sets my stomach hair alight. He puts an infra red on my stomach and another on my feet which is comforting; like a virtual hot water bottle. Finally, he attaches a couple of electrodes to my right knee and turns up the volume until I can feel little pulses of electricity emitting. “They didn’t do this in ancient times,” I enquire and he confirms that this is a relatively new practice and it somehow comforts me that even ancient Chinese medicinal practices have moved with the times. Then I am left on the couch for ten minutes to “relax” while he leaves the room and my stomach smoulders in front of me.

He tells me that Chinese medicine does not work in one session, but that the body heals over a period of time by teaching it to act differently to the way it has become used to operating and that, in order for this to be a success, he needs to see me several more times and although I am trying to tot up the final cost in my head, I am willing to give it a go for the time being.

As I am leaving, he hands me a small brown bottle of a powder and a measuring spoon, of which I am to take three level teaspoons dissolved in warm water, three times a day, after meals. “I hope there’s no cocaine or ecstasy, mixed up in there,” I say, which he finds very funny.

“Haha. Do you think I would still be in business after all this time, if I did that?” and I thought No — he would have made his money long ago and retired to some secluded coastal mansion with its own private beach. At the door, he says “How is your knee?” and I realise that I have no ache there at all.

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