Monday, December 13, 2010

Looking East.

I have been going to weekly acupuncture appointments for awhile now. With curiosity, I'm asked, what's it like? Ah now, I will tell on.

A woman I work with started going to this acupuncturist for her rheumatoid arthritis, and she had a free referral -- did I want to give it a try?


Now honestly, at that point, I was willing to give anything a try. If it had been a referral to go to a doctor who would tell me to only eat green beans, stir them only clockwise, stand on my head for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at precisely midnight (alignment with the lunar cycles, or some such thing, you know), and pray to his dead father who was the founder of this healing methodology and practice, I would have done it. I would have been glad to do it; to do something about my pain of a mystery. I like to let nature take its course, don't get me wrong, but if there is something I can do, I want to do it. And I wasn't so sure that I had exhausted my possibilities. There must be something to do, I thought.

So, a man sticking needles into my body? Yeah, I'll give that a go.

I like the acupuncturist, Jack. He listens to me. He doesn't tell me I'm crazy. I like the logic of this treatment: my immune system is run-down, damaged, and my "belly-fire" has been put out. It needs a jump start, he says. Its re-set button pressed.

The needles, slowly, are doing this...resetting.

He remembers how I'm doing from week to week, and when he writes on my file, it isn't "difficult patient" -- I can see, he keeps the file out in the open when he writes. I have issues with most medical professionals. They tell me that the pain is in my head; or, that they have no idea what is wrong. They have never heard anything like this before. I appear perfectly healthy. Nothing is wrong. Pay your co-pay and go home -- please!

They don't like my questions.

My same nature that doesn't like just sitting by, also likes knowing why. Once I know why something is happening, I can deal with it...even something painful. I just need to know the cause of the effect.

At my last appointment, Jack took my wrist-pulse, on both arms. "Your qi is getting stronger...your blood is building." Good!, I think...and ask, "How can you tell?" I want to know.

"You are wiry today," he says. This is not the first time I've been called this, wiry; but usually it isn't a compliment. Jack goes on..."Your veins are getting larger, week by week, and today they feel like...umm...guitar strings!" Oh, how terribly appropriate. Eighteen years of guitar strings under my fingers and they have worked their way into my blood. In hindsight, I was callously pressing too hard. Like a two-year-old, I question his just-given-answer..."how so?"

"Your pulses are textured," he says, "like the ribbing of a guitar string. This means there is something's good. When we started, your pulses, your blood, thread...thin and it wasn't moving...stagnant."

You wouldn't think that un-stagnated blood would make anyone's heart excitedly skip a beat, now would you? But, it did mine. I smiled. I sighed. I have been working hard...I have been eating hard. And something is happening...

I lie down and roll up my pant-legs -- pulling up my shirt, I uncover my stomach. Chatting nonchalantly about Christmas plans and my new therapeutic dog (yes, I have had thoughts of getting my dog a vest and taking him everywhere with me), Jack begins with my head, sticking one needle in my forehead and one right on top, digging it through my somewhat matted morning hair. Working his way down, four more surround my navel, and one goes slightly below that. These are the ones I feel. I asked him about this once too. There isn't pain, but apressure that I feel knocking against the needles, almost an electric current, swirling. "It's energy," he explained, "working itself lose...the good and the bad stuff." It feels like there is a lot of the bad stuff working lose, and the needles leave red dotted reminders...

One needle, he places into my right hand wrist; then, two into each leg along my shins and two into the top of each foot. This all varies with each visit, as he judges which points to use -- which buttons need pressed, based on how I tell him my digestive week went.

He wheels over a heat lamp, arranging it over my feet. I feel like a baby chick, as I remember how they would flock to the reassuring red-glow in the dark cold of our basement, or the make-shift starter pen in our farm's cinder block silo. Warming, their bodies would chirp with contentment. I remember this sound...their chirps...softer than their down...

The door closes and I am alone, hearing the timer on the heat lamp. Warmth slowly waxes, and then wanes as the hour passes. I'm cooking. I'm content. I would chirp, were I a chick.

Nature overlaid music plays in the background, you know the kind -- the kind with waterfalls and streams, wind and songbirds -- made for people to get "in touch with nature" without ever actually having to go out to touch. But, I get to the state of mind where the timer's tic and the music's measures of nature noises cease, and I hear only my thoughts knocking...I welcome them.

"I am proud of you" -- Jack says, as he comes in quietly to move the heat lamp from my feet to my belly. He says this every week, that he is proud of me. Ordinarily, this is the type of thing that I find uncomfortable and strange. Do I say, "thanks"? But, it feels good to hear. He noticed a few weeks ago, that there was a bit more flesh to put the needles into..."I'm proud of you."

And it feels good, laying there -- the pressure of digestion taken off my frame. I gravitate upward to a meditative world...not meditatively silent, thoughts gets louder, they demand more, and I pay attention . This stay is one which I find both too short, and also a place I wish to leave.

At the hour's close, Jack comes back and takes out the needles, wiping the red-dotted exit wounds. "Take your time, my dear," he says. And it does take time, a few minutes, to come back to this world from that place...

Months ago, he recommended that I make bone-broths -- they "strengthen the blood." And so I am brewing bouillon...trying to keep these good things happening...

~ Olive oil, garlic, onion, salt & pepper, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, carrots, celery, parsley, chicken ~


  1. I am thankful for the skilled hands of this "healer". Continue on this journey and and don't forget your red socks. IPOY! For those not familiar with this acronym, This comes from a book I read, I'm Proud of You : Life's Lessons From My Friend Mr. Rogers. Written by Tim Madigan.
    Everyone needs a Mr Rogers in their life.

  2. Huh...I've been getting acupuncture about once a month here. I've always had low blood pressure but she pointed out that I have poor circulation. She's never suggested that the acupuncture and a different diet could help that. I might have to ask about this.

  3. The eating definitely helps, I think...kind of a boost to the actual treatment.