During one of my many trips to the ER for migraine treatment, a lovely nurse (whom I almost think was really an angel) told me she understood my pain. She looked at me seriously and wrote down a name and a bunch of letters. These letters spelled out some foreign seaweed known for detoxifying properties and the name belong to an acupuncturist. Then immediately after, her shift ended and I never saw her again. Angel?
probably definitely not. Just a girl about to head home from work who imparted some experienced wisdom on a suffering patient.
Shortly thereafter I looked up the practice of acupuncture and became thoroughly confused as to why anyone would fork over about $150 for something with no known researched benefits. So I gave up. I also gave up looking for the seaweed since I only found it online and prefer to be able to return stuff easily if I believe it doesn’t work. I’m a “have to see it to believe it” person, which apparently doesn’t jive in Eastern Medicinal principals.
But before totally throwing in the towel I reached out to Facebook, asking for acupuncture references & experiences. And then people wouldn’t leave that feed alone. They ranted and raved about it. Said it didn’t hurt. Cures abounded. Also the name of a community acupuncture center popped up from a reasonable, levelheaded person. I didn’t know I had so many closeted acupuncture patient friends.
I checked out the website from my very sane friend who believed in getting poked with needles. This place, Little Bird Acupuncture Community, practices a traditional Asian approach in a group setting, rather than one-on-one. You don’t get naked and they poke you “primarily on the front of the body and mainly on distal points (legs, arms, hands, feet, ears, etc.)” And yes, even on the forehead so you look like a unicorn.
Also, this is very important for financial purposes: “Community-style clinics run on a sliding scale in order to make them more affordable, and so that people can get the amount of treatment they need in a shorter period of time.”
So I went (as you can see in that lurvely picture of me above).
And while I do label myself a little crunchy/earthy/healthy, I’m not normally one to go get stuck with needles for fun, or healing, or whatever.
After a short consultation (by short I mean 15 minutes recounting my entire migraine history) with my Acupunc (that’s slang in their community, derp), she led me into a room with 8 recliners, or really fancy camping chairs. About 3 of the chairs were inhabited by what looked like a science experiment of people either snoring, dozing, or zoned to the max with needles sticking out of their bodies. The chairs were draped with a full sized sheet, had a pillow, and blankets or extra pillows were yours for the session. I took off my shoes and tried as quietly as possible to put my purse into a bin under my recliner. The two air filters and white noise machines provided a soothing background as I laid back in my chair.
My acupunc told me she doesn’t do pain. She explained the needles might feel a slight pinch when she taps them in, but beyond that, everything is pain free.
Oh and if you’re wondering, my acupunc looks no older than 30 and rocks some cute hipster frames. She’s as white as me, too. So add that to your mental picture.
She took my energy pulse (looks and seems like a normal pulse) and looked at my tongue. I’m so glad I brushed my teeth earlier that day. She made some comment about me being tired, but it’s summer and I’m always all lazy when it’s hot and I don’t need to report to work. So sure, I guess I was tired?
Then I saw her take out a sterilized pack of needles. She explained they never reuse needles and every pack is new. The gauge on those babies seemed about a 33, which is the smallest possible. They were tiny.
At the request of “breathe in, and out” I did, while she gently placed the first needle in the webbed, fleshy part between my left thumb and pointer. It felt like nothing. She barely places the needle beneath the skin, because as she explained, you don’t need to punch the distal point, just wake it up a little. It went on like this until all 8 needles rested just below my skin, on my arms, legs, and one on each upper shoulder scapula.
Then I was like, uh, now what? I’m here, with funky needles sticking ouf of me and OH MY GAWSH THEY ARE TINGLING A LITTLE. Apparently this is normal. Then it stopped and I got floaty.
I looked around and saw 4 patients relaxing and a few definitely sleeping (mouth open, snoring and all).
I wanted that. I slept decently the night before and already had my coffee so there was no chance of that happening
Until I started feeling very, very heavy.
I wondering if they loaded the needles with something? Are the tips dipped in something?
The next thing I knew, I was waking up 4o minutes later.
I can’t sleep in public places. I don’t sleep on plains, trains, or buses (we might die, hi. have to be awake to help or something). I love naps but usually in the afternoon. So this complete night-night time which happened? floored me.
I gave my acupunc a “knowing glance” (this is also a term, I swear) once awake to let her know I was ready to be de-needled.
While the acupunc is not always in the room, there’s a baby monitor and a secret code if you need help, or have to use the restroom, or overslept.
Pulling out the needles was as harmless as them going in!
(and by the way, a few fell out on their own – that’s how superficial they lay)
I was advised to drink plenty of water as my system flushed out the toxins throug. And drink water I did. A gallon. I was skeptical how I would know the acupuncture was working, but I promise you the thirst was not something I made up.
And now two weeks later my normal 2nd-day-of-my-cylce-headache was much less intense. It wasn’t completely gone, but it was not a migraine either.
Also? now when I wake up at 2am and normally try a million things to fall back asleep for about an hour plus, I fall back asleep instantly. Sure it’s summer and my work demands are low. Sure I’m not as stressed*. Sure I am just generally in a better place now.
However I really think acupuncture is doing something. I don’t know what, but something good is happening. So for $30/session I will certainly zone out and feel all fuzzy and good. Why not?
If you want to find out more about acupuncture or a community acupuncture center in your area, go to the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture.
And seriously go, because if it can help, it can’t hurt!
*oh but there’s good stress happening which I will report to you later