Last weekend a friend invited me to try an acupuncture session with her practitioner. I’d never been before so I figured I would go, just for the experience of seeing how I liked it (in the spirit of my summer of YES).
It wasn’t until after I got there that I realized…hmmm…I’ve had some rather negative experiences with metal and puncture wounds in the past (if you’ve ever heard the story of the long needles that I used to get in my shoulder for my chemo, you know how much trauma I have associated with such things). But I knew acupuncture would be nothing like what happened with a rusty metal pole a few years ago or like an IV needle pumping toxins into my body. So I laid down on the mat and let myself be punctured. I’d suggested that she put the needles in the spots that would help to relieve the pressure that I’ve been experiencing in my lower back as a result of my prosthetic-fitting issues. She said the points for that would be in my hands, feet, and ears.
She started by inserting needles into the outsides of my hands. Then she did my ankle (she skipped the bionic one, which was probably wise–neither of us would’ve wanted to short-circuit any of my robotics). By that point I was a wee bit tense. The needles, though narrow, did hurt going in. It was sort of like that feeling when you’re getting novacaine at the dentist and they say “this’ll just pinch for a second” and then it really pinches. For more than a second. Since she could see I was a bit uptight, she then added needles to my forehead “to help me relax.” It was nice to have her rub my forehead gently (I tend to carry all my stress right between my eyes). Then she started pinning my ears.
It was when she approached my left ear and asked what had happened there, that I remembered what a mess my body is, with scars everywhere. I’d forgotten about the reconstructive surgery I’d had on that ear so many years ago–but it does look kind of strange close-up because of a series of skin grafts to the lobe. Since I’ve had surgery on both of my ears I’m not even sure that they would ‘work’ for acupuncture–they’re both covered in scar tissue and I don’t have much feeling left in them. But she pinned them anyways, and then left me in a supine position with all of those needles in for about an hour, while some new-agey music played.
As the time wore on, I did feel more and more blissed-out. But I’m not really sure that it was due to the needles–I think it was more because I was like Gulliver–pinned in so many places that I really couldn’t move without disrupting something. Lately I haven’t been taking enough opportunities for silence, so I enjoyed having to just lay there for awhile, with nothing on my mind. That part was just what I needed. But the needles…I think I could have done without. A massage would’ve felt much better to me, and I think when I need a bit of an ‘adjustment’ I’d opt for that before I’d do acupuncture again.
I was just a block from my favorite beach for the session, and when I walked outside afterwards the sun was just setting over Catalina island. I skedaddled over to the sand as fast as I could and was able to walk the length of Big Corona before it was completely dark, the salt water stinging the holes in my ankle. When I passed my very favorite thinking spot (where I did my catharsis ritual), a long-stemmed yellow rose washed up at my feet (no really, it did–things like that just always seem to happen to me…). It brought back some sad and happy memories of the flowers my ex left for me near there when he proposed marriage, of bonfires on this beach with my children, of paddling and swimming in the water so many times in recent years.
It was such a mixed-up confluence of past and present–the contours of my body and my landscape harboring the weight of so many stories, and also holding so much promise for the future.