I assume massage could be categorized as Eastern medicine, but it's so mainstream now I'm not sure. A few months ago a place called Turtle Dragon ran a Groupon for acupuncture sessions. I'd always wanted to try it but never followed through. So this struck me as a fun opportunity and I bought it.
My appointment was yesterday. I went into the little shop that smelled a bit like a head shop with the incense (at least that's what I assume it was) filling the air. They had all kinds of ointments and Asian knickknacks like you'd find in any Chinatown souvenir shop on display with some interesting seating and decorations putting you into that foreign culture vibe. Just like a doctor's office there was a little windowed box with a receptionist to greet you. She had me fill out some forms. Most were health history and a description of a typical day with food, exercise, bathroom breaks, and stress laid out. I was very frank and honest, why not? Who knows what they could screw up if I tried to make myself sound better than I am.
I also put in information about the car wreck I was in a couple weeks ago. Quick recap. A taxi driver didn't see that me and all the traffic on the highway were stopped because an accident was being cleared out of the right lane. He tried to jump to the right but saw a couple of police cars and smacked right into me. Company car, so I'm not worried about the damage. His was destroyed. He told the cops who, being on the scene helped us get safely to the other side of the highway, "He just stopped!" Without skipping a beat the officer said "and you didn't!" Humor isn't appreciated in times of stress, and especially when English is your second language! He got a couple tickets and I got a jacked up back and neck.
So the acupuncturist comes out to greet me. He was about 6 foot, trim, good looking, white guy. Not really what I was expecting but then again, I doubt an elderly China man would be caught dead associated with Groupon. So he gets me into the room and says "20 cups of coffee?" I pointed out that it was per week, not a day. Apparently 4 cups a day is excessive...who knew? He said "don't you realize that caffeine is a toxin plants produce to warn animals not to eat them? We need to find you something else to supplement after your first cup or you will feel like crap in your 40's." Apparently he finds that confrontation is relaxing for his clients.
He has me lay down on the table and starts pushing around on different parts of my body and asking if they are tender. He moves right into putting needles into some points around my arms, hands, legs and ankles. I just lay there for about 10 minutes. They didn't hurt going in, but after a little while I felt a slight burning around them, but nothing horrible. He comes back in to put more pins in me, a few around my belly button. After pushing around on my stomach, he informs me my sugar intake is too high and goes on about how many grams are in an apple and the behemoth bananas Dole produces. I'm left to lie again. I'll give him that being alone in a room at a time when I'm usually inundated with phone calls was relaxing, but I don't know how much the needles did.
Later he has me flip over (needles removed) and starts feeling around on my neck and back. He tells me he'll focus on my neck with the next set of pins. He asked if I'd mind him doing something a little more rigorous to help with the relief but since it was my first time he wanted me to make that call. I let him know I wasn't apprehensive about whatever he wanted to do. Besides, I might as well get the most out of this since I probably won't go back...yep, snap judgements are a bitch, especially when we get off on a bad foot first.
He explains that he wants to do some cupping to help recirculate the bad blood that's stored in my muscles. No not that kind of cupping, the kind with heated glasses on your skin. They basically act like a vacuum. I'll admit, I understood the concept, but hadn't really though beyond that. When he returns he rubs my back with lotion and applies the cups. Only two of them. He then rubs them all over my shoulders and upper back. This was quite possibly the most painful experience I've ever willingly allowed to happen to me. Not like breaking a bone or child birth, but the friction really did hurt like hell.
He was done and about to put more needles in my neck, shoulders, arms, and legs when he said something that startled me. He said "you might forewarn whoever you share you life with what we did here before you take off your shirt tonight. Your back will look kinda gnarly." My head popped up and I said "like bruised?" He replied "bruisy." I laid there the rest of the time, far less relaxed until he came in to take the pins out and send me on my way.
He may not be a doctor but bruisy isn't a word I want to hear describe what the after effects of treatment. When I got home I wanted my wife to see because I hadn't gotten the chance to inspect it. Looking at your own back takes more than just a glance over your shoulder. Horrified is the only way I can describe her face when I removed my shirt. I have a giant Kandinskyesque hickey all over my back. I'm pretty sure an S&M club would leave me less visibly accosted.
Gnarly is right huh? Today, I'd describe it as "bruisy" given the purple and yellow that have joined red's party on my back. Not really diggin' the whole muffin top thing that I have going on either, but c'est la vie.
A friend of mine is way into Tai Chi and touts acupuncture's glories as well as his desire to own his own set of cups. There's something for everyone out there. The pin pricks were just a little red and have already gone away. This
shit ain't going anywhere any time soon! I'll leave my health to
professionals from now on.