I have never had acupuncture treatment. Over the years I have heard claims and read many articles about acupuncture’s benefits for pain and balance; however, acupuncture has never been the first source of treatment that has come to mind for my medical needs. Although I had no problem with the idea of small needles being placed in my skin, I doubted the idea such a practice could provide positive health benefits. In fact, my skepticism of the treatment was so high I never intended to make acupuncture a part of my life. Despite my reservations, that perspective, like many in my life as of late, changed as a result of a little idea and an ongoing challenge that has become a part of my daily life. With my “I have never…” objectives guiding me, I decided to give acupuncture a try as a part of my ongoing exploration of new things. As a result, I located a local acupuncture clinic and made an appointment to receive the treatment for the first time.
With my appointment scheduled for early this morning, I woke early to give myself ample time to get ready and make it to the appointment on time. Unfortunately, a busy night of writing and packing for another trip up to Green Lake meant the morning greeted me quickly. Tired, I worked through my morning routine and headed out the door in what seemed like one blurred moment of time.
|Oh, well that's easy to see...|
Upon entering the suite I saw a small woman of Eastern descent sitting behind a large wooden desk positioned at the back of the room. I approached the desk as the woman look up at me with a welcoming glance. After confirming I was in the correct location the woman stood up and introduced herself as Doctor Helen. She proceeded to walk me through some paperwork necessary to begin the acupuncture treatment before asking me about my intent for the appointment. We talked through my reasons for trying acupuncture as we sat in a few waiting room chairs at the corner of the room. Unexpectedly, that interaction led to my first “I have never…” event for the day.
Explaining my ongoing challenge to experience new things, Dr. Helen became visibly wary of my intent for the appointment. When I explained I was attempting to document each of my new events, her expression moved from uncertain to uncomfortable. Flustered, she rose and said she wasn’t sure about the idea of making an acupuncture treatment at her clinic a part of my “I have never…” journey. For the first time, I encountered someone with an aversion to my ongoing personal challenge.
Together we worked through her hesitation, ultimately determining the idea of documenting the procedure with photographs was the point of discomfort. Eventually agreeing no pictures of the procedure would be necessary, Dr. Helen guided me a room with a red massage table covered with a thin white piece of paper. Two lamps sitting on the floor at the far side of the table and a small desk were the only items accompanying the table. After giving me a brief walkthrough of the forthcoming treatment, Dr. Helen left me to get prepared. Shortly thereafter I was laying face down on the table ready to begin my first experience with acupuncture.
Moments later Dr. Helen entered the room and explained she would begin the treatment. She advised me I might feel a very slight pinch when the needles were placed into my skin. I acknowledged her statement, leading Dr. Helen to begin the treatment. A second later I heard a light clack as I felt a sharp pinching feeling emanate from the back center of my head. “How is that feeling?” Dr. Helen asked. “Actually, that hurt quite a bit” I replied with a heavy degree of concern in my voice. “Oh, you’re sensitive, huh? Ok, I’ll adjust,” she said as she moved toward my back. The pain now fading from my head, I felt very light pinches as Dr. Helen tapped a dozen needles down the length of my spine. Relieved there was no pain associated with the application of the remaining needles, I told Dr. Helen I was doing fine when she checked in with me once more. I laid still, face down on the massage table as Dr. Helen turned on the lamps and set a few timers. After completing her tasks, Dr. Helen told me to relax and advised me she would be back shortly before exiting the room.
I remained perfectly still as I listened to the unsynchronized clicking of the timers against a background of quiet traditional Chinese music. Waiting for some sensation to come from the needles running down the length of my body, I stared at the light blue carpeting beneath me wondering if my skepticism was well founded. The minutes passed without any change in the way my body felt until I started feeling a slight warmth down the sides of my spine. Unaware of whether the warmth was being produced by the needles in my back or by the lamps at my side, I decided to roll with the feeling and focus on relaxation. Eventually, I found myself sinking into a state somewhere between resting and asleep, still aware of my surroundings but not quite in a full state of consciousness.
I remained in my state of limbo until Dr. Helen returned to the room at what I guess was about 30 minutes later. She stated she was going to remove the needles to end the treatment before she promptly pulled the needle from my scalp. A sharp pain rippled down to the crown of my head as Dr. Helen quickly changed position to remove the remaining needles painlessly from my back. Once finished, she left the room once more to give me an opportunity to get dressed and gather my belongings.
|The tools of the trade|
My first experience with acupuncture reinforced many of the skeptical thoughts I had about the process prior to receiving the treatment. While I did feel a little looser than normal for about one hour after the treatment, I can’t say that I experienced any noticeable long-term benefit from the practice. Perhaps I’m jumping the gun on the positive elements of acupuncture, but today’s experience didn’t give me much reason to believe the treatment is better or more effective than other, easier alternatives with proven track records. We’ll see if acupuncture ever makes its way into my life again, but at this point I’m as skeptical of that occurrence as I continue to be about the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment.