When my chiropractor suggested acupuncture for my ongoing back/neck issues, I quickly agreed because I am just about out of other options. I already get medical massage, physical therapy and chiropractic work at least once a week… not to mention loads of ibuprofen and the occasional muscle relaxer. Acupuncture seemed like just another casual experiment. Strangely, I didn’t give much thought to a key aspect of acupuncture, well, THE key aspect – sticking needles in my skin while lying face down in my underpants and a hospital gown.
I avoided thinking about the needles until I was in the doctor’s office on the verge of getting stuck. Only then did I muse, “Wow, this is really stupid, BAA! What are you doing here in your underpants and a hospital gown?! You hate needles and you particularly hate getting stabbed with them! This is going to be heinous!” Oh crap.
I avoided a visible meltdown in front of the doctor like any good WASP, but inside my nerves were roiling – how had I been so nonchalant about this decision?! Apparently I no longer have time to think about medical procedures in advance. (Just ask me about my root canal.)
I was predictably tense as I waited for the first poke, but aside from being a little prickly, it actually wasn’t that bad. My doc continued methodically, tapping the needles into my skin in all sorts of unexpected locations. Having done no research, I just assumed Doc would be needling me in the places that hurt – neck, back, shoulders. I came to learn that my ankles, knees and the top of my head were also fair game.
All was going well with the sticking until the doc said, “Ok, I’m going to leave for about 20 minutes. Just relax.” Huh? RELAX? Am I not the poster child for adult ADD? I literally cannot complete a task without getting distracted by five other tasks, or phone calls, or my DVR, or squirrels, and I certainly can’t sit still for any amount of time without making a list or drawing or figuring out something else to do - so “relaxing” for 20 minutes is out of the question in the best of circumstances. Relaxing for 20 minutes with 14 needles sticking out of my backside was ludicrous. Despite the “soothing” new age waterfall music wafting from the CD player, I spent the entire time thinking, "Is this working? Does acupuncture really work? Does my backside look like a porcupine? Am I relaxed? I don't know if I'm relaxed yet. This isn't that relaxing. Oh this was a stupid idea." Then I began to imagine scenarios where I would really, really have to stand up and vacate the sterile little room I was in.
For instance, what if the fire alarm went off? Sure, it wouldn’t be the first time a fire alarm drove me half-naked into the street, but at least the last time I didn’t have needles poking out of my spine. My heart was racing as I imagined having to jump off the table with needles freakishly poking out of me to run down six flights of stairs barefooted in a hospital gown with my pink plaid underpants showing for all the world to see.
Fortunately the 20 minutes ended before anything caught on fire, but was I more relaxed? No way. Did I feel any better? Not really.
Up next… Sessions 2 & 3