I had my first acupuncture appointment on Friday. It was fine. I’m going to go back for more at least. I was a little taken aback by the setup when I first arrived. The doctor is a board certified oncologist, who was also trained in acupuncture and uses Chinese medicine as a supplement to western medicine in treating his cancer patients and people with other ailments.
It looks like in this office he also provides chemo to his cancer patients. So the office space was basically two open rooms, with recliners separated by curtains. One space looked like it was dedicated to chemo and then the other room was dedicated to acupuncture. They sat me in one of the cubicles and gave me a portable dvd player and headset to watch a “So you’re new to acupuncture” video. Then the doctor came in for the consult which frankly did not sit well with me. I mean, there was a guy right on the other side of the curtain hanging out, I could hear him moving around and he’d clearly be able to hear me giving my entire personal and medical history. So in keeping with my plan to be more assertive instead of seething internally with confusion and anger, I asked politely to move someplace more private.
I’m glad I did. Especially after I told him about our previous spontaneous pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage, and he asked me how old my son was and I had to be all “MISCARRIAGE, I HAD A MISS.CARIAGE.” (Little bit of a language barrier.) Imagine shouting down the curtain walls with that.
Anyway, the way they diagnose you with acupuncture is to take your pulse for a bit and then look at your tongue; I guess they tell a lot from looking at your tongue (still need to google this to figure out why that is). From that, he was able to tell me that I have “bad liver energy” and he was able to tell me things like I tend to be hot at night, I’m thirsty/have dry mouth a lot, I have a LOT of breast tenderness with my cycle, etc. All true. He explained a bit about Chinese medicine and aligning the sort of spiritual paths of the body and how he uses it in conjunction with western medicine which all seemed to make sense to me. He also said that he would normally recommend Chinese herbs as well for the tension I have a tendency towards but that the fertility doc, while all for the acupuncture, is distrustful of the herbs for woman who are cycling. Which I totally agree with. So many herbal supplements end up having detrimental effects that I would be more stressed out taking them while trying to get pregnant.
So all that dispensed with, we returned to my recliner. They put my feet up and placed a pillow under each arm. He started with the top of my foot, and up my leg, placing 4 or 5 needles, each time feeling for a tender spot in the area he was working on before placing the needle. And there almost always was one; not something you’d notice generally, but there were definitely thumbprint sized areas where it felt a little hurty in each part of the body he worked on. He put three more needles in the right arm, and then one on the top of each ear cartilage and one in the shell of each ear. That is the only one that really hurt and made me jump; the other ones I barely felt. He put about 4 or 5 in my belly, 2 in my left wrist and 4 or 5 down my leg. He gave me some breathing exercises to do and told me to relax for 45 minutes. They also covered me with an aluminum blanket to keep me warm, without weighing on the needles.
Then, he moved on to crochety would not shut up old lady. This is where I again did not enjoy the curtained cubicle set up. I’m trying to relax and she’s two cubes over using her outside voice to talk about her cab ride there, the candy she brought the doctor (made by a friend, but she’s the investor/money person behind the candy, she’d rather invest in a friend than a billionaire oil company, don’t you know? The world is going to hell in a handbasket, blah blah blah…) and then her laundry lists of aches, pains and complaints. Again; the opposite of relaxing, because not only is this litany distracting, it’s pissing me off that it is cutting into my relaxation time, so its this viscous cycle of not relaxing.
Finally he finished with her, and all was quiet again. I did manage to doze off; unfortunately, this caused me to do the involuntary leg jerk which hurt like hell. The needles really didn’t hurt, unless you tried to move or even shift slightly, then it was a relentless, sharp, achy pain until you could shift back to where you were before. So I was awake and wondering how much longer I had to go when the timer finally went off. All the needles were plucked out, and the stick swiped with alcohol, no bleeding.
I definitely did feel very relaxed and centered after it. Even if it’s just a placebo effect of the forced down time and relaxation, I think it’s a good thing. The breathing exercises are also helping to follow another piece of advice I got from the new fertility doctor which is to limit the amount of time every day you spend thinking about fertility issues. So now, when my mind starts to go there, I do the breathing exercises and think about something else. With the yoga classes I’ve added to the routine, I will be a model of zen calm within weeks!