Monday, July 23, 2012

There's a first time for everything

Photo Credit: Leslie Vigient
I just got back from my first acupuncture appointment. Good lord.

Even with the strong referral, it took me nearly a month to get in with this particular doctor. A petite woman with salt and peppered hair which accented her vibrant red framed glasses, showcasing the perfect blend of art and professionalism. This doctor was soft in nature like a grandmother, but firm and direct like a mother. I felt comfortable in telling her my life stories alongside my deepest medical and personal goals and secrets. She welcomed my honesty, and yet she still left me wondering if I answered her question "right".

Her office smelled of Chinese herbs and soft music absorbed the white noise and anxiety of all clients (definitely including the anxiety of this first-timer). Countertops were covered in needle boxes, suction glass balls, kleenex, and standard medical additions such as gauze and bandages. I clearly knew what acupuncture was going into it, so the needle aspect of acupuncture wasn't an issue for me. Between the blood draws for my thyroid and various tattoos and piercings that I have, I for some reason I trusted this stranger to stab me.

And she did.

After the face-to-face consult, I stripped down to my underwear and stood in front of her allowing her hands to trace my chi flow and my blocks. We talked about pains and naturally I brought up my never ending ability (and need) to crack my neck and roll my shoulders. She smiled humbly and said "I am not surprised at all from someone who was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease at 14." She explained to me the relationship between nerves and chi flow as she pointed out that where I carry my thyroid in the front of my throat, just around the corner in the same place, there sat my top vertebrae (Disclosure: I am not a medical professional, and by no means do I know technical medical terms, so just roll with my "medical" explanations here). She later asked if I had a stressful and anxious upbringing, because apparently getting Hashimoto's at 14 was quite a  young age to be diagnosed, and I briefly revealed to her the "shuffle" of my childhood. Apparently having a dad who moved in and out of marriages frequently affected my physical self more than I thought. But of course it did. I scrambled at a young age to make a name for myself and hold on to any sense of identity that being a Carlin had.

She chuckled as she traced my back, letting me know that I was giving her quite the project to work on as she said "It's a mess back there!" Yes, yes it is. She had me lay on the table on my back and opened up the flow in my legs. The needles didn't hurt. The prick didn't hurt. It was the sudden pain and movement that caught me off guard leaving me wincing. I felt like there was sharp electric currents streaming from my hips, to my toes. Opening up vents of circulation as if they were a dam to a river. She opened up my "vents" on both legs before having me switch over and lay on my stomach so that she could tackle my back. After what felt like a back massage, she counted seven main blocks and then literally stabbed needles into those seven spots. Uncomfortable, but not awful. She then lit the suctions and placed them accordingly (I have no idea where, or how, by this point my back was on fire with those feel-like electrical currents) and lined key spots along my lower back, and hips to further continue the flow of chi and energy.

This whole process lasted 90 minutes. We finished and I felt overwhelmed with both relaxation and confusion on what the hell just happened to me. Yet, I felt good. Really good. We scheduled seven more appointments (2 a week), and I took my checkbook and purse to the car to just sit there and reflect. What were those "currents"? How can I explain this feeling to others? How can I explain that this was oh-so uncomfortable, yet oh-so recharging and stimulating?

I look forward to seeing how this progresses as the sessions move along. She told me that the first appointment is always the most "uncomfortable" because you are breaking the biggest blocks, and from there it becomes alignment and flow energy.

I don't get it, and yet I recommend it. Has anyone else gotten acupuncture treatment before? What are your experiences?

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