this is me at acupuncture

pantless and cold, i am waiting for the fast-talking but genuinely nice-seeming chinese dr. to reappear. she came in for our initial chat, told me to take off my pants, said something about my liver (!?) and assured me she’d be right back. i am wincing under the fluorescent glare of the examining room feeling exposed and nervous. i aimlessly tap on my phone (not an iphone, an instinct, just fyi) and read an article on obama and gay rights and then tap out a quick email to nicole:

Omg wtf this is lame! I am stuck pantless in a cold florescent room. The acupuncturist has abandoned me. I hope this gets better.

this was a week ago today. i was there for my headaches. i am getting so many of them lately, they’re destroying any sense of normalcy i have (out two days from work just this week; plus i am lagging behind on the blog entries, which i do not like) and chipping away at my sanity. i’m willing to try anything, even tiny little needles for two hours after work.

aren’t acupuncture offices supposed to be, like, all new-agey and whatnot? i think. soothing music, low-lighting, calm-speaking people? this one, notsomuch. but there is some sort of chinese pan pipe-y music playing in the (also fluorescent) waiting room. i can barely hear it from here. TURN IT UP! i want to shout to the grumpy receptionist from my tiny holding cell. i decide not to yell. this, i feel, would only make things worse.

the acupuncturist finally comes back (it could have been 30 mins, it could have been 15, i lost track of time) and i announce, trying to sound casual and friendly (as if, say, i had pants on), “i was starting to get worried that you weren’t coming back!” that’s jersey-ese for: “where the EFF were you and wt-friggin-f.”

she instructs me to lie down while she turns away and starts opening sterile little packs of needles. i take this time to warn her that i am super-sensitive (i went for acupuncture years ago performed by a well-meaning but not-so-helpful new-agey type) to all the needles and associated feelings that comes with them (tingles, weird swoosh-like warm sensations that make you feel like you can actually feel blood moving around your body; yes, there is something to this ancient acupuncture thing, and trust me, i wouldn’t be saying it if it weren’t true) make me anxious. i know, shocker. neurotic, stressed-out jewish jersey girl gets a panic attack at the acupuncturist….but anyway.

some go in my kneecaps. some on the top of my hands. maybe my ankles? i don’t remember and i wasn’t looking. but definitely one on the top of my head. that one i definitely remember. my scalp tenses up, i get dizzy and i swear i see…green? omg. what is this.

i start to panic. then i get weepy. oh great. GREAT. this is great, i think. just great. i’m about to cry at the acupuncturist’s and i feel this is a woman who will not take to it all that well. she is all business.

everything’s too bright, and i’m dizzy. annnnnd… come the waterworks.  

“do you think you could, uh,” i say, my throat getting dry. “turn down the lights?”

“you no like lights?” she quips. “this is yawr pwab-lem. it is yawr LIVER making you nawvous. it is yawr nawvous SEES-tem.”

i want to tell her, um, maybe? but mostly it’s b/c i’ve always had light-sensitive eyes, and i’m staring at fluorescent lights dead-on and my vision’s going green from this needle in the top of my head and please, lady, can you just turn them down? but before i can say much of anything, i sense that she is about to leave the room.

leave me. alone. in this bright room. w/my head tingling and dizzy and blood swirling around my body? at this point i really start to panic.

nooooooooooo. i want to shout. puh-LEESE don’t leave!!! if i could get up and grab onto her ankles i would, but i can’t. i’m too dizzy and i just don’t have the strength. plus i’m scared to look at my legs and hands and see needles everywhere. it’s like i’m in a really lame horror movie set in suburban baltimore.

instead of shouting i quietly squeak, “can you stay here with me? i can’t be in here by myself.” tiny tears are welling up in the corners of my eyes and i can’t wipe them b/c i have needles in my hands.

“you see?” the dr. says as if it everything’s come together for her. it seems i am a textbook case of nervous system liver issues. or something.  “you cwy vewy easa-wy. dis is yawr nawvous SEES-tem. acupuncture help. hold on, i get receptionist fwrom up fwont to talk to you. i turn off light.”

the grumpy receptionist from up front??? PLEASE NO i want to shout. ANYONE BUT HER.

she turns out the lights on her way out, and returns with the lady from up front who proceeds to sit down in the room’s lone chair, sigh and ask me in a huge, heaving, monotonous voice if i meditate.

“in thru your nooooose,” she says like she’s checking her watch waiting to go home. “out thru your mooooouth.”

omG. this is bad. and it’s making me even more nervous. i switch gears and start doing what i do best: asking questions. this will make her stop “meditating” with me, and make the time go by, i decide. soon i’m suddenly hearing way too much about her overseas internet fiancee and famous author friends on facebook. she is one of these secretly goth ppl, i see now. and i am in a dark room w/her. alone, stuck full of needles like a pincushion (with a heat lamp above my exposed stomach; i forgot to mention that). i feel very close to a panic attack when the acupuncturist comes back in and before i know it, she has me flip over on my stomach and she’s sticking needles down both sides of my entire neck and down the top of my back. after a half-hour or so (i’m guessing) she comes back and sprays chinese herbs on me and covers where the needles used to be with saran wrap and then put heat lamps on me again. i’m suddenly feeling very warm. hot, even.

goodness gracious. can i be done yet?

i will spare you the rest but we’ll just say it turns out i was there for three hours. they tried to make me buy chinese herbal pills (three pills six times a day?! and i don’t even know what’s IN them b/c the bottle’s not in english) when i was paying my co-pay. i was like, yeah no thanks. i’m going back tonight. after a three-day migraine, what else can i do? (yes i’ve been to many neurologists and have had multiple MRIs and all drs. want to do is drug me up and i refuse to go that route) i’ll let’cha know how it goes.


yes that's the examination room. yes i took a picture of it. yes i'm going back. yes i'm crazy.


8 responses to “this is me at acupuncture

  1. OMG Jess! I never knew acupuncture could be so scary. I have thought about it every now and then, but after your experience NO WAY!

    I am sorry you are having so much trouble with stupid headaches. And hoping, crossing my fingers that just maybe this crazy acupuncture will be the answer for you.

  2. Oh my god, that is NOT how acupuncture is supposed to be. Don’t go there again. (And Jen P, don’t go there either.) Try Leslie Lloyd at Satori Wellness Center in Towson. She’s WONDERFUL.

    Also, have you seen a chiropractor? Michael Dorn in Hampden is also awesome. I wish I was still going there – I had knee and back pain for years and he’s the first guy to correctly diagnose the problem. He might be able to help with your migranes, too. (410) 662-4476

  3. ha. jen p! wait, just to clarify: most of what happens to me at acupuncture is just me being a neurotic freak of nature. you should try it for your headaches. just go somewhere else if you want the new age-y music and low lights! this place takes co-pays, which is unheard of, and does come highly recommended. it’s just very…clinical.

  4. hey v! first off, thanks for the recommendations. i’ve actually been going to a local chiro for years and it does help but i haven’t been “cured” or anything (obviously). maybe i should try your guy?

    also the second time at the acupuncturist was better. does your acupuncturist take co-pays? if so i will def try her! let’s email 😉

  5. Hey darling! Have you tried Auryveda? It’s the sister science to yoga. It’s about balancing the energies in your body. I know it sounds kooky, but it’s really east and painless for sure. It’s a little much to explain in the comment box, but if you’re interested I can point you in the right direction. Loves!

  6. I meant easy, not east…although since it’s Indian I guess it is east, too! : )

  7. hey there “cousin!”

    i feel your pain. migraines suck. feeling like there weren’t any other options left for me, i went the meds route. now it seems my system is starting to reject those, too! ugh!! tried acupuncture (you are lucky they take your insurance), neuromuscular therapy, TMJ treatment, MRI, CAT scan, EEG, etcetcetc.. my next step is to try botox injections. wish me luck and good luck to you, too! xo

  8. Jessie Schlosberg

    hey hon! I just caught up on the acupuncture blog and I laughed out loud, not because it was funny, but because I am exactly the same way you are with the needles and the spinning and the sweating! The first time I went was at Maryland in the Eastern Medicine wing of the SHC. The lady put needles up and down my spine and I almost passed out. I got dizzy and sweaty and I thought I was going to die!!! She had me sitting up on the table. I told her, if you don’t let me lay down I am going to faint. She laughed at me saying that no one else had passed out before, and then the room went dark!
    It does get better though!

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