Today I Went to the Acupuncturist.

Remember that time I told you I had endometriosis and grossed you out with a bunch of TMI details?

I still have endometriosis. But this time, no gory deets.

I will, however, share my experience of my first visit with an acupuncturist.


I saw a specialist a couple weeks ago to inquire about getting a laparoscopic surgery to remove all my shitty insides. He said I may be jumping the gun and to hold off for a bit. Which was kind of fine with me because I wasn't exactly chomping at the bit to have a tube rammed down my throat, while they stick Hoover accoutrement through my abdomen.

But in the meantime, I wanted to do something about my ongoing pain/ exhaustion/ general lackluster feeling. And I wanted to try something different from my usual Tylenol/ hot pack combo.

My friend Rachel had recommended an acupuncturist whom she'd heard great things about, who happened to specialize in conditions like mine. Since I didn't have anything to lose except some uterine lining (Hey-O! Snuck that one in there!), I gave him a call.

I had no idea what to expect and was a little nervous when it came down to the thought of actually paying someone to turn me into a pin-cushion.

Today was my visit.

The doctor I met with was very nice and soothing. He asked me a bunch of questions and listened to my answers, instead of rushing me out the door like some of the previous doctors I've had. After about 15 minutes of chatting, he handed me a gown and told me to change down to my undergarments and gown. I had no idea this is how shit went down at an acupuncture visit and I was glad I'd made sure to shave my legs that morning.

While I was lying on the exam table, in my hospital gown tied in back, I realized why his office was heated like a disco inferno. It's because people pretty much get naked. And if they're anything like me, their knees are knocking out of nervousness and their hands are clammy and their feet are so cold they're about to amputate themselves.

When he came back in, he pressed on some spots on my tummy. A few spots in particular were so uncomfortable they caused me to flex my rock hard abs. He made note.

Then he brought out the needles.

He started with my lower left arm, rubbing up and down with some pressure. Maybe I'm such a weakling that when I'm just touched it hurts, or maybe the pressure was his trick to not get my to notice that he was putting in a needle. Either way, I didn't feel a thing.

Before I go any further, let me first say that these needles are tiny. They actually look more like fishing wire. They shouldn't even be called needles. Unless they're in your shin and you accidentally flex your foot. In which case, they hurt like a son of a bitch. More on that to come.

He continued on. Two on my left arm. Two on my right arm. One near each knee. One in each shin. And I think two in each foot.

The only one I felt was the left shin. That one pinched a little.

After they were all in, the doctor said we were going to do moxibustion. He explained that it's the burning of moxa, or mugwart, to stimulate blood flow to the desired acupuncture areas. He then used a blow torch to light each little moxa thing and stick them close to the acupuncture areas on my legs. As they burned they smelled like a cross between incense and weed.

At first, I didn't feel anything. And after maybe about 30 seconds it started to heat up. And then quickly after that it started to burn. As each one started to burn, I named which location was done cooking and the doctor removed it. We did three rounds of this.

Then he left me in the room for about 10 minutes with the just the acupuncture needles in me. I was fine with it because I couldn't feel them anyway and aside from that, he'd put a heat lamp right next to my feet and it was making me go all sleeptime. Also, there was soothing music on and I was pretending I was at the spa.

At some point during my relax sesh, I made the mistake of wanting to get closer to the heat. So I FLEXED my left foot closer to the lamp.

Did I mention it was a mistake...?

A pain that can best be described as "giant hypodermic needle being stabbed into your shin by an evil crackhead nurse" went shooting up and down from the acupuncture site. My keen observations told me I shouldn't have fucking done that, so I relaxed my foot and laid completely fucking still for the rest of the visit.

When the doctor came back in, he removed all of the needles. -Which was just as easy as when he put them all in. He brought with him a little bag of Chinese medicine that looked exactly like Biscuit's doggy kibble.

The instructions were to take 12 pills, 3 times a day.

I'm serious.

That's 36 pills per day.

I took my first set of twelve at lunch time and thankfully I didn't die.

I have another appointment with my new best acupuncturist friend next weekend.

I'll keep you posted.


Shockgrubz said...

I've never had this done. I'm glad to know they burn stuff on the needles. It makes it sound more sterile, for some reason. Great blog, I'll follow along.

Kim said...

Aggckksh, I know you said it doesn't hurt but my aversion to needles is so strong that now my shin is having sympathy pains for your shin.

Strangly the idea of getting blood drawn doesn't bother me at all and yet tiny, unnoticeable needles is making my stomach turn.

You're a brave lady.

Hannah @ The New Black said...

36 pills?! At the rate I swallow pills that'd be an all day project. I have a friend who swears by Acupuncture and has been bugging me to go for some random problems I have. I'm not necessarily adverse to it, I've just never seriously thought about going. Keep us posted on how you feel during this...I'm really curious to see if it helps.

Simone Says... said...

i tried this witchcraft one summer and it did nothing for my acid reflux or my depression. i ended up having a mental break and had to go to the doctor to get western meds. i haven't wanted to kill myself, as much.

Erin said...

I think it's awesome that you took this step. I have faith that this process can do a lot of good.

Sara Louise said...

I'm thrilled for you that you went! My step-sister is an acupuncturist and I swear the woman is a genius. I think it's much better to try out new things before resorting to the surgery. Best of luck with it :-)

fabulousjunk said...

Always wanted to try acupunture. I've heard wonderful things about it. I know it really helped my mom out after her cancer. Though do you need to have a condition for you to go see one?


Serial Monogamist said...

I love acupuncture. And cupping.

The only time the needles would hurt me was when I'd fall asleep and then when I jerked awake, my arms would flap and I'd thwak a needle into my own arm. That was awesome.

I hope your insides get better.

monkey momma said...

I heart acupuncture too. I went for searing back pain. Accupuncture + cupping = NO MORE PAIN in only 1 session. Color me delighted.

Did you have a vibrating sensation at all? When the lady put the needles in two specific spots, it felt like she had hit a metal rod in my body and the vibration went from the needle, across my body, and to its corresponding pressure point. It didn't hurt, but it felt weird.

Logical Libby said...

I LOVE acupuncture. It used to put me to sleep every time. I even loved the little twinges of pain sometimes. I thought that meant it was working...

Sara said...

I went to an acupuncturist for my infertility for a while. I loved it. No, it doesn't hurt unless you move. Lesson learned. I always took a nap during my sessions and felt so much better afterwards. Maybe it was the acupuncture or maybe just because I took a nap in the middle of the day. Expensive nap, but worth it. I tried the herbs for a while too, but then my doc said they could interfere with fertility drugs, so I stopped. I hope this works for you and you get some relief from the hell that is endo!

You're Lucky I Don't Have a Gun... said...

SHOCK - Thanks for finding my blog and following along! I can't guarantee all my posts will be this interesting (in fact, I can guarantee they WON'T be this interesting), but every now and then I throw in something about poop, which is always entertaining IMO.

KIM - It seriously wasn't bad at all. In fact, I'm looking forward to my next appointment tomorrow.

HANNAH - Yeah, I'm not a fan of swallowing pills either. When I realized he was serious about the 36 pills I thought I might as well give up on this stuff now because that's NEVER going to happen. But then when I saw them, it wasn't that bad at all. Much better than taking one giant horse pill. These are small enough that I take four at a time, three times. And I do that three times a day. :)

SIMONE - I think there are DEFINITELY certain medical conditions that shouldn't be fucked with. Depression is one of them. I think acupuncture might be a "helpful" thing to consider as an added bonus, but definitely not as a replacement to good old fashioned SRIs.

ERIN - Thanks! You know I'll keep you posted with my stupid daily texts.

SARAH LOUISE - Yes, that's how I feel too. Try the less invasive things first. Thanks for the encouragement!!

FABULOUS - I don't think you need any kind of diagnosed condition to see an acupuncturist. I think just chronic pain/ headaches/ etc is probably good enough. Unless you're trying to bill insurance, that is. In which case, you'll need to prove that died last week.

MONOGAMIST - Thanks! It's great to hear that so many other people have had great experiences with acupuncture. I mean, I'm sure there are just as many people with bad experiences. But thankfully, none of those people have found my blog yet.

MONKEY - No, I didn't get any kind of vibrating sensation. But I'm hoping I will next time, it sounds even more relaxing. And if there's one thing I like, it's relaxing.

LIBBY - Are you still going? It seems like a great little thing to do to pamper yourself. Even though it's expensive as shit. So I guess it's kind of an expensive little way to pamper yourself.

SARA - Since I'm not taking any other specialty medication, there's nothing for me to worry about with the Chinese herbs. I don't know if it's the ONE acupuncture visit or the pills, but either way it seems to be doing its job. :)

Erik Denmon said...

I think there wouldn’t be any problem taking in 36 pills in a day, though it sounds absurd. But hey, we’re talking about Chinese medicine here, which is known for its natural properties. Anyway, one major rule when doing acupuncture is to avoid movements. Relax, but only move a little. The pain gets severe when you move ‘cos you’ll start feeling the needles moving against your tendons. -->Erik Denmon

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