Raise your hand if you like to be poked with needles. I’m guessing most of you have both of your hands firmly located on your keyboard. Or one hand on the keyboard and one hand eating an ice cream sandwich. If you’re the ice cream sandwich person – I’m jealous.
I’m fairly certain that aside from a few unique people with sexual fetish issues, most humans would agree that being stabbed with tiny needles is not exactly a fun way to spend a morning. For many years, this stood as my main argument against acupuncture. Why would I voluntarily allow someone to poke several needles into my body at an attempt to realign my energy? This sounded like some crazy mumbo-jumbo to me. If my energy needs to be realigned all I need is a 40 of malt liquor and a tub of cookie dough and my energy will be back in order real quick. In my world, drunk and bloated counts as relaxed and at peace.
I know, I know – the Chinese have been doing acupuncture for thousands of years. Everyone from Dr. Oz to Sharon Osbourne tout the benefits of the ancient healing practice. But I’m far too Western to fall for that BS. No one who lived thousands of years ago could possibly have been smarter than we are today (For arguments sake please disregard the discovery of fire, the wheel, the birth of democracy and agriculture). Besides, haven’t you seen Pinhead from the Hellraiser movie? I’m pretty sure he suffered a traumatic acupuncture session and that’s what caused him to be so angry and evil.
My husband has had acupuncture before and thankfully he did not turn into a horror movie villain. His experience was pleasant, yet not exactly groundbreaking. He suggested it might be helpful for me if I ever experienced an acute injury. Recently I’ve been dealing with some Achilles’ tendonitis. This is a nagging injury that tends to pop up when I’m running too much. I will be running a marathon next week, so I’ve been downing ibuprofen and icing like an Eskimo. Since I haven’t seen much progress with the injury and because 40 new things is a lot of damn new things, I decided to give acupuncture a try.
I made my appointment at White Lily in Burnsville. I showed up right on time with my medical history worksheets all filled out in my neatest possible handwriting, which is still fairly illegible. If this blog were hand written I would have precisely three readers: my mom, my sister and my husband; they are the only ones who have fully mastered the art of reading Meg-ligraphy.
My acupuncturist Christine was so warm and bubbly I instantly felt at ease. She is exactly the kind of person you want puncturing your body. She was knowledgeable, enthusiastic, very passionate about alternative medicine and not high on drugs. This seems to be the perfect combination. Make sure you screen any potential acupuncturist to fit these criteria – especially the last part.
The White Lilly office was very tasteful. The ambiance was modern which seemed like a very bright juxtaposition since acupuncture is one of the oldest practiced forms of medicine. The cozy office space was filled with books and medical guides. The hardwood floors and windows gave the space a very cozy feel. I appreciated the intentional decision to stay away from recreating a clinical setting. Christine immediately voiced how excited she was to treat me. She said she loves treating new patients because everyone’s body and energy are unique and every patient teaches her and are taught. We are all students and teachers – how Zen!
After a series of medical questions not covered in my illegible forms, Christine asked me to stick out my tongue. Apparently one’s tongue is a window to overall health. Christine deducted from my tongue that I was overall very healthy, but perhaps had some stress and anxiety. I realize this is a very phone-a-psychic kind of generalization, but she was correct. I inquired about what an unhealthy person’s tongue might look like. She grabbed a book and proceeded to show me some pretty messed up tongues. It made me very happy that I am married. To all the single girls out there: Be sure to inspect your potential make-out buddies tongue prior to going in for the kill. This is very important. If you saw tongue #68, you’d understand.
I was enamored by the whole process. My brain was eager to learn more, but cautious not to get too excited. It’s like when you win bingo, but you have to consciously remind your brain not to celebrate your victory just yet, you may have accidentally gone dabber crazy and colored B-5 in error. Calling a false bingo is embarrassing and disheartening. There was a chance that acupuncture could end the same way.
Christine patiently answered all my questions. She must have felt like she had walked into a really bad job interview as I rattled off a series of random and somewhat repetitive questions:
How long did you have to go to school? four years
What kind of symptoms do you usually treat? anything from infertility to indigestion
How many needles do you usually place? 12 – 20
How many people have you poked today? I don’t poke and tell (she took that one like a champ)
And the obvious question. “Will it hurt?” only if you’re a baby
The intake process took about 30 minutes. Then it was time to get down to business. Christine informed me she would be placing several in my feet and legs to address my tendonitis and several in my hands and head for general energy realignment. It was time to determine if I was a baby or not. Here’s the truth: some of them hurt a little. I would equate it to getting a mosquito bite. Most Minnesotans grew up being chased by swarms of mosquitoes all summer long and are thusly properly prepared for such irritants. California folks – you’d better take a shot of Jack before stepping onto the table.
After Christine had placed all the needles, she left the room and instructed me to lie still and observe calmness for 20 minutes. Naturally the first thing I did was grab my phone and start snapping photos. Nothing says serenity like an iPhone. I figured I’d better provide photographic evidence of the event since the Bin Laden incident clearly demonstrated that if there is not widely released photographic evidence of an event, it must be propaganda ploy created by the government. I’m so glad I can prove to you that my acupuncture session was not a conspiracy.
After spending four minutes taking photos and 16 minutes observing calmness, (calmness in my brain is thinking about how funny it is when ants find a really big piece of bread) Christine returned to remove the needles. The spots where the needles were place felt warm and happy like endorphin soldiers had been sent to check out the situation. My brain sent the order: “Hey what are those pokey things doing all over our body, endorphins: go check out this nonsense.”
I could feel a significant difference immediately. My body felt very relaxed in a new and unique way. It was similar but not identical to the feeling you have after receiving a really good back massage. I felt rejuvenated, similar to how I imagine Link feels after he finds a fairy pond in Zelda.. B-5 had been called, and while I was fairly certain I had won, I needed a few hours to evaluate if this was an effective appointment.
A few hours later I could still feel significantly less stress, especially in the areas of my body that were treated. Against my better judgment I went for a short run later that afternoon. I felt absolutely no pain in my Achilles tendon. NONE! I have not run pain free in more than eight weeks. BINGO! While I’m sure I’ll still be hobbling through the finish line at the Minneapolis Marathon next week, I was overwhelmingly impressed with the huge impact fifteen little needles made.
Was this all in my head? Possibly, but I am very in tune with my body and also very skeptical by nature so I like to think I’d be able to identify if it is truly all physiological. I’ve never been naïve enough to buy the shake weight even though all the dudes in the commercial are super hot and I’m the queen of lazy workouts – so that’s saying something. I will most definitely get acupuncture again and I recommend you go get it too. At the very least you’ll be able to make a good joke about being poked by a stranger.