Monday, April 16, 2007

Pins and Needles

I was talking to one of my friends the other day about his stomach problems. He was drinking a darkish brew that smelt of something that would make a person sick, not better. I told him, “If I had a stomachache the cesspool of brown sludge he was chugging away at would not be what I would take”. He laughed a little bit embarrassingly but then he told me that it was not the only thing he was taking. He was also getting acupuncture.

Now, I thought about this for a while. How can playing with a persons skin help their stomach? Seems pretty impossible to me. But then I thought more. Isn’t this acupuncture thing in a way just as odd as somebody taking a pill for their skin. I mean, somebody swallows a small pellet of who knows what and fungus on their toenails stops growing or pimples magically disappear? So, why not? Why can’t manipulating a person’s skin affect their stomach? Seems just as unlikely as swallowing a small white pill deep into one’s stomach and then having it affect their skin. Well, that is if a person thinks about from a non-western medical perspective.

So, in life when I'm faced with such a mysterious situation, I only do one thing; I dive in headfirst. I set out to go and get treated with traditional medicine and this is my journey.

First, I had to think of an excuse for getting treated. Just as a person can’t just walk into a doctors office and ask for an operation if their isn’t any problems, I can’t get the brown sludge or needles poked in my skin if their isn’t anything a matter with me in the first place (from a legitimate oriental doctor anyway). So I determined my ailment for the purpose of this visit and my new afflictive condition would be pimples on my back.

On arriving at the doctor’s office, I was plugged into an electric chair. Connectors on my both of my ankles and wrists shot not large but still noticeable shots of electricity through me as sensors measured and recorded different organs/systems/functions in my body. After 5 minutes a colored paper chart recording 10-15 different functions came out. Results: I’m fine!

The doctor examined the chart. He says I have a “fever” (not the temperature kind) that causes my pimples. Calm the fever and my pimples will go away. Also, the charts claim I have low vigor and low energy. The doctor diagnosed me and I was moved onto the treatment room.

First, my legs were massaged. Yes, my legs were put into giant compartmentalized bags connected to an air pump(s) that would blow up one section at a time and then release. It felt great, the best leg massage I ever had. At the same time they put a ‘hot stone’ wrapped in a towel on my stomach. (note: still not sure how this affects my pimples)

Afterwards I was relaxed, I mean really calm and the doctor came in. Three seconds later he had needles in hand. Then poke. One needle was in my chest and then jab, jab two more in my belly not a second later. He moved to my hands, legs and feet. In about ten seconds, I had ten needles plunged in my body. That was it. It was done. The worst ones felt like a small pinch. The best ones didn’t really feel at all.

A nurse came in and added some substance to a couple. Then she lit them on fire and then blew them to smolder. The very familiar smell of sage rose from the needles and cleared the air, not that it smelt bad anyway.

Lastly, they turned on the heat lamp. You know one of those hot red lamps that keep food warm at the burger place by your house. Yeah, I had one turned on me. I wondered, “Could this be bad?” Then I wondered, “Will I stay fresh for fifteen minutes? And then maybe somebody could eat me!” In the end, it wasn’t so bad.

Surprisingly, exactly fifteen minutes later, same time it takes for a burger to go bad, the plucked needles were slid out and I was ready to go. (Maybe the fast food restaurants aren’t the only places with limits on how long those lamps can be used for.) All and all, I paid 10 dollars to be a human pincushion and I think it was well worth it. In fact, the leg massage alone might have been worth it. My insurance picked up the rest of the tab and I am not sure how much it would have been but I bet, well, I bet it would have been a lot.


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