Acupuncture : Feels Like the First Time (Part II)
“Go ahead and undress. I will be right back”.
I get down to my undies in a room that felt more like I should be getting a massage rather than poked with needles. I had no idea what to expect, but I tried to just relax, be in the moment and give myself this hour to not worry about anything I’d have to face outside of this room. Due to a pre-scheduled fire drill that day, my acupuncturist decided she’d do two treatments, planning to split them to make room for the drill. Before we started, she checked in with me and asked how I’d been doing. Still stressed. Still itchy. Difficult to gather my thoughts. Hard to get to sleep/stay asleep some nights. She listened, and starts to feel around my stomach. “I’m going to put some pressure on your abdomen”. So, as if she were trying to give my core a 2-inch deep CPR compression, she very intentionally and strongly shoved two fingers straight down into my organ cavity. Simultaneously she asked, “Tender?” as I winced and grunted. Ma’am. You seem to be attempting to create another belly button with your fingers, of COURSE it’s tender. She moves and presses, I wince and grunt. “Even when I press like this, it should not feel tender.” She presses closer to my belly button. “Tender?” Always, ma’am. I could have a abs of steel and that close to my belly button will forever feel weird.
After alladat, these needle better be painless.
No dice. Getting poked with a needle that stays stuck in you feels the way it sounds. It’s a legitimate pinch, but to be fair, it doesn’t linger. However, there are some spots where it just never ever feels good to get poked — like your face. I had needles in my head, my arms, my feet, my legs. I kept my eyes closed the whole time because I was afraid I’d look like the Poltergeist and see 800 needles in my periphery. Once each needle was placed she put a heat lamp on my feet, covered me in a foil blanket, and left the room. There I lay — me and my needles. I was unsure how I should feel, if I would bleed, if this was actually going to work. With my eyes sealed shut, I got lost in my thoughts: work, home, starting a business, am I crazy, what is my mom going to think, maybe I won’t tell her, not worried about the money but maybe I should be, how many of these treatments will we be able to afford if she doesn’t take my husband’s insurance, how many hours of uber eats will I have to drive to be able to keep coming, what else will my uber eats money need to pay for, did we pay the…
Wait, what? I just got here!
“We have to get ready for the fire drill.”
Oh right, the fire drill. She removed the needles and I quickly re-robed. The alarm sounded, we exited via the stairs, and I stood in a cloud of secondhand smoke while every tenant from a 7 story office building waited to be let back inside.
The second treatment was on my back. I was hoping she wouldn’t two finger death-press into my spine, which she didn’t. She poked me a bit, I realized that I actually am very tender in my back, and I just enjoyed not being able to move for another 20 minutes. When she came back in she checked my abdomen to see if any of the “tenderness” had magically gone away. It had not. “Usually, once I put the needles in the points it starts to help. But there is still a lot of stagnation. I think you need to come twice a week.” Twice a…ma’am. Ma’am!
So…exactly how broken AM I? How bad is it REALLY that I, unlike the average patient, need to be acupunctured twice every seven days? In case you are thinking, “Girl she scamming you”, I knew it wasn’t about money. She was quite sincere and she clearly wanted to help.
My treatment frequency caused some serious existential pondering. What has been going on for so long that my body is this locked up? And why didn’t I notice it before now? I mean, before two rounds of burn out, poor sleep, a crappy attitude with my husband, and chronic eczema — why didn’t I ever just stop?
Do you ever stop?
How bad do we let it get until we need more than the “recommended dosage”? What causes the standstill, the stagnation? And what does it feel like to not be…stuck?
And can a needle prick unstick me? Is the answer to be still, get poked, and give space to my body and my spirit to do the work?
Join me in Part III, publishing soon!