50 needles.

I strongly dislike needles.

So one might find it odd that I spent a couple of hours today chock-full of them, voluntarily. I had my first acupuncture appointment.

I mentioned this week that I’ve been having some health issues. (Dear Body, NICE TIMING. Love, Me.) I’ve visited the local clinic and big hospital many times, and been through a battery of tests. Some involved taking multiple vials of blood for various tests- gag. One involved an I.V. Do you know what that stands for? INTRAVENOUS. Like, IN YOUR VEIN. Blech. I couldn’t even look at it. I know I’m a big baby, but those were the worst parts of the tests.

One by one, the tests came back mostly clear, which is awesome– except my pain and symptoms remain. It’s frustrating not to know what is wrong. So when it was suggested that I try acupuncture, I was into it!

I totally believe in alternative medicine. I believe the body can heal itself. I believe in the power of positive thinking. I believe prayers get answered. And I believe that sometimes, the elderly Chinese man in the shop that smells like 10,000 herbs can heal an ailment better than Dr. Western Medicine.

John’s been going to an acupuncturist for years. She is the opposite of the stereotype I used above- she’s a tall, strong, blonde, 40-something Austrian woman with an accent. She’s warm and genuine and I trusted her immediately. After chatting with me about how I was feeling, she did a brief massage of the area- not a feel-good massage, but one intended to zero in on where my issues might be and offer proper treatment. She pinpointed immediately where I felt bad. Her experience and skill is obvious.

The treatment itself was painless. I asked her half-way through how many needles she had used on me so far, and she laughed and said, “Lots.” Hmmm. She put one in the top of my head. She put one in my forehead that she called the “Noodle Needle.” They were everywhere, and not only where my pain has been. She estimated over 20 on one side of my body and even more on the other. I envisioned myself looking something like Needle Face Guy from Hellraiser:

Image

Here’s the actual size of the needle.

Image

Once the needles were in place, I basically just relaxed, dozing in and out of snooze-land, listening to a fountain’s soothing sounds and focusing on feeling good. A forced “time-out” from… well, everything… can’t hurt.

Something I found interesting was the acupuncturist’s process of getting to the bottom of my issues (versus the doctors I’ve seen all week). Test after test at the hospital showed what was NOT wrong with me- a process of elimination that allowed items to be crossed off a list of possible causes for my issues. The acupuncturist seemed to be really listening to my description of how I felt, listening to my body, and proactively beginning treatment there. Both methods can be effective, but I found the differences in perspective intriguing.

Overall, it was a pleasant, relaxing, and effective appointment. Are my symptoms gone? No. Do I feel better? Yes. I have tender spots where she worked on tricky muscles. I’ve got relaxation patches all over me, which make me smell like I work with the old guy in the herb shop (Cholula likes it). She mentioned things to address that the doctors didn’t. I’ve got more appointments lined up to continue where we left off today, which will hopefully augment what the doctors come up with when I see more of them this week.

I can’t believe I’m saying this…but my date with 50 needles was a good thing. Another lesson in being open to positive things in life!

I’m curious- What are your experiences with alternative medicine?

*Needley guy from Hellraiser image from Google images. I literally searched “Scary Needle Face Guy.”

33 replies »

  1. I had nerve blocking injections in my “spine” two weeks ago to try and stop the pain in my back…. They didn’t help at all but I am terrified of acupuncture. I hate needles too (except the kind that are filled with tattoo ink). I am slowly considering trying it because I can’t take the pain anymore and you may have convinced me. I’m sorry you are feeling icky but happy this may have helped xo

  2. I’m sorry to hear that you are having health troubles. I have been having some too, and not having answers is REALLY the worst. I have done acupuncture before and I really liked it! I found it calming in a weird way. The doctor I mostly see is a naturopath, and I love her. If something is out of her league she sends me off to an MD. I want to see an ayurvedic doctor some time, I think that what they practice is super interesting!

  3. I saw an osteopath for complications from a fall on the ice and she told me she can help in many cases, not only for injuries. It was a gentle, welcome change from all the IVs and tests at the hospital. It helped a lot. 🙂 I hope you figure out what’s going on and feel better soon!

  4. I’ve been going to see myotherapist who does pretty intense massage and dry-needling (which is not too disimilar to accupuncture). It sure beats taking all the drugs the western medicos want me to take. She always finds the most tender spot and manages to release it so that there is far less pain. The Fashion Mister recently had cupping done on his back and although he had the best bruises for a week he said it really loosened up his sore back.
    Hope your pin-lady continues to help you improve.
    Cheers,
    Laura

  5. Awesome! Wow, that’s brave. I’m still too scared of needles.

    Alternative medicine experience: I have chronic GERD (acid reflux). For some reason, I find that taking a “shot” of apple cider vinegar works faster and better than any pill. It feels like a burning bomb when I swallow it, but after 10 seconds, no stomach acid for hours.

    • I felt brave, but realized afterward that the needles weren’t the scary kind (like a shot or getting blood drawn or an IV- gag). Interesting about the GERD. I feel like we probably have “medicine” right in our own pantries without knowing it sometimes.

  6. I’ve never done acupuncture but I’m curious. I don’t get grossed out by needles so I think I could handle it. That being said, I’ve never had 50 in my body at once!

    I like to believe in alternative medicine, for the same reasons you outlined. Sometimes, I think our bodies are more advanced than we give them credit for!

    • I didn’t feel the needles at all… very interesting. I also have heard that it can be used for many different things- stress, pain, realignment, etc.

  7. I’m all about alternative medicine! It helps that I’m an “honorary Asian” though — what with the kung fu, the Mandarin, the Asian Studies degree, etc, etc. 😛

    I was in China for my first (and so far, only) acupuncture session — and it was pretty awful. 😦 I’m sure it didn’t help that I was at a really, really rough emotional place at that time, but my Chinese wasn’t quite good enough to communicate with the acupuncturist about what I wanted, and I’m not sure our group chose the best one to begin with. I’m not even that terrified of needles (though I agree that IVs and giving blood isn’t any fun), but it was really unpleasant!

    I’m definitely going to have to try it again sometime in a “safer” place with someone I trust. I’m glad your first experience went much better, and I hope you continue to feel better, too!

    • Wow, that sounds intense and NOT positive! Since John has been going to this woman for a while, I felt comfortable. Communication was also key between us so I can see how the language barrier would be a problem! I’d say give it another try though!

    • John LOVES deep tissue massage! I usually can’t take it, and prefer relaxation rub-downs. But I think working out some knots in my neck could help! Thanks for reading!

  8. I totally believe in alternative medicine, after an experience I had with some disgusting tasting Chinese herbs that cured me from a cough I’d had for four months. I had been to the traditional doctor twice, taken cough medicine, gone the soup and rest route, and then finally my mom took me to health food store where a woman picked and chose hunks of brown, scraggly roots and told me to boil them into tea. The tea tasted like a mixture of mud and dead rodents (or at least what I imagine that would taste like), but my mom made me drink it four times a day and by day two my cough was completely gone. It was the craziest thing, and now I’m believer!

    I’ve done acupuncture to relieve a pinched nerve and it helped a lot. I went in thinking that she would stick needles in my back to alleviate the pinched nerve there, but instead, I had needles in my shins, ankles, feet, and neck. I think that’s what I like best about alternative medicine: they look for the root of the problem and start there, rather than just trying to fix the symptom. Hope you feel better!

  9. I’m with AlisaG. I do hope that your pain is alleviated soon so you can put all of your focus into healing yourself. I have lots of advice (I’m a mom, for crying out loud), but I’ll save it all for conversations on my porch swing. Of course, that may never happen.

    PS – Needle-hater here. I’m a pass-er-out-er. Chronic. But acupuncture is something I would try.

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