I am a new age woman. Not by choice. I forced myself (kicking, screaming and panicking) to embrace new age medicine practices this morning. I guess technically Chinese Healing isn’t really new, it’s definitely ancient, but somehow I always equate these two things with chai tea toting yuppies wearing organically grown cotton clothing.
Last night was very difficult. Not only was I having record breaking amounts of hot flashes I also had a massive hive attack that left me snarling and ripping off skin trying to alleviate the burning pain. My body was not content to make me suffer on this small scale so it escalated the battering ram headache I’ve been having for several months and added a few panic and anxiety attacks to the whole pot of simmering misery.
I started crying about 4 am and literally couldn’t
stop. It just kept coming…. I paced and swore and ripped at my skin and
repeated these steps until I began praying that lightening would strike the
house and kill me instantly. OK, I live
About 8 am I went into Steve’s office and said “this is it…. I am at the end of this… WHAT ABOUT ACUPUNCTURE?” He looked momentarily surprised and then said “I dunno, does that help menopause?” Well, I didn’t know either so I did what many of us resort to in times of crisis….. yup…. I called my Mommy. After whining to her for a bit and asking her what she thought she said “it won’t hurt to try” and then hung up to call around for me. I promptly called my friend Susan to whine to her too…. You know that old adage? Misery loves company? I wanted to spread the joy to as many people as possible. Mom called back shortly with a number for an acupuncture clinic fairly close and said they definitely do acupuncture to assist with menopause. So I called. Right away. I had a little difficulty with the language and I didn’t take any offense that the guy kept calling me “Yenny”. Hey, Yenny, Penny, Zenny, Jenny…. I could care less if someone could help. I don’t know if it was my hysteria or weeping but they agreed to see me in an hour.
Then it hit me. Wait. What was I thinking? Acupuncture? Me? Needles? One hour? Holy cow… but shortly after that thought more hot flashes, panic attacks and scratching frenzies made me rethink the whole process ! Acupuncture ! Of course ! Who cares if there are needles as long as I get one iota of relief ! An hour? Heck with that, I’m leaving now. Steve (God Bless this long suffering man) moved his schedule around and escorted me there…. Warned me in advance that he refused to watch and graciously accepted my pathetic and weepy Happy Birthday wishes.
We drive a short distance and arrive at the address. I didn’t write down a suite number so we go into the little office on the end. Uh oh. It is fairly dark in there with sort of weird music playing and what appears to be small dark windows on three sides of the space. It isn’t too clean. There are signs up about how much it costs to get a massage. Hmmm…. I tell Steve I am leaving. He says “maybe we have the wrong place” and I think, “gee, no wonder I love him, he is definitely a genius” so he goes to the next office and motions me over. Definitely better. Very clean white space with a glass display area neatly merchandised with unknown potions, pills and bottles. A tiny oriental woman sits behind a long counter. She looks up. She is fifty or sixty years old with beautiful and kind eyes. I am crying.
She walks around the counter and says to Steve “you are too fat” and then she tells me “you are too fat, too, but you have bigger problems and we will deal with that later.” For some reason neither one of us is offended by this statement of the obvious. I tell her I am Jenny….. “Oh,” she says, “Yenny…” and hands me a clipboard and a pen and instructs me to complete the forms. They are sort of standard but perhaps a little more vague. I write. I cry. I have several hot flashes. I write and cry some more. Steve pats my leg. I tell him I am sooo sorry for being such a burden and cry some more.
The nice lady comes over and goes over my clipboard. She is the doctor…. Or puncturer or whatever they call it. The language is a little difficult but after some time I think we have most of the facts basically straight, more or less. She says “OK, we begin” and with great trepidation I follow her into a square, spare, austere white room. Steve comes too. There are two white gurney type beds in there with white covered mattresses. She motions me to lie down. Gulp. I do.
She comes and shows me some very thin looking needles in sterile wrap. She tells me about the sensations I may feel: small pinching when the needles go in, a feeling of pressure in the muscle, heaviness in the limb and the tingle of electricity. Why am I doing this again? Another hard hot flash reminds me. OK, I take a deep breath.
The nice lady puncturer person starts on my right side and sort of “taps” each needle in. It doesn’t hurt. Some of them have a sensation of a small electric shock. When she gets to my right hand I feel a strange shock run into my fingers and they start twitching. It doesn’t hurt, just feels very odd. 7 or 8 needles are inserted between my right bicep and the heel of my right foot. Then she starts on my left side. It is very quiet in the white room. She doesn’t talk at all…. but makes a tiny humming noise. I find myself babbling…. She whispers “hush” to me. Steve is awfully quiet. She then starts down my left side. My head is throbbing and I feel another hot flash starting. The left side is more sensitive…. No pain, just odd sensations and when she gets to my left foot I feel something like a bolt of lightening out of the bottom of my foot. It hurts and I cry out. She explains something about “energy release” and does something to the same needle and another jolt shocks me…. I cry out again.
I am a bit stunned and I sort of catch my breath for a moment and then I realize my headache is gone. I wait a few seconds to see if this is my imagination. No, it is not. My long time nasty companion has left the building, my headache is no more. I am astonished. I tell the puncture lady, I tell Steve…. I am definitely babbling. She tells me to “hush” again and to not move. I don’t listen and try to scratch my eye and a very weird, unpleasant sensation goes up my hand into my bicep. I decide to just let my eye itch.
Then she pulls my shirt up to examine the hives and leaves the room, humming softly under her breath. She returns in a few moments and starts rubbing some kind of ointment on the hives on my stomach. The ointment burns briefly but then it stops burning and stops itching. Steve is sitting by me and he says something like “wow, the red is fading”. I couldn’t actually see so I tried moving again and again got that unpleasant sensation.
The nice lady turns out the lights and tells me to close my eyes and not move. I wiggle a little bit and look around the room. Try to tip my head to see what’s on the shelves but they are too high. I look at the white painted ceiling and the white drapes she has pulled partially closed around my white sheeted bed. There is no noise in the room. I realize I am cold. I realize I have stopped having hot flashes. My headache is still gone. After some time goes by my feeling of anxiety starts fading away. It is gradual but I suddenly realize I am not feeling panic and not feeling any pain.
I lay in the white room for what feels to be a short time but Steve tells me later it has been a little over fifty minutes. The nice lady returns and starts removing the needles. Two of them feel very sensitive and the one in my left foot makes me cry out again, but much more softly. I lay on the white bed feeling very drained. My muscles feel very heavy but my limbs feel very light. It is just a very odd sensation. The nice lady massages one specific spot on my skull and then takes my hand and places it there. She tells me to massage that spot during the day. I feel very odd.
After I sit up and get my bearings we return to the little waiting room. On the counter are several little bags of something and a little bottle full of something and a tube of ointment. She explains what I am to do with each one. She talks about releasing all the poisons from my body . We make an appointment for the next afternoon. I am still feeling a little odd but definitely much, much better…. No pain, the itching where she has rubbed the ointment is gone but the itching on my back where she did not rub the ointment is killing me.
I shake her hand and thank her. We go out to the car and Steve just keeps saying how different I seem…. He says he can tell a lot of the pain is gone. He says he has been feeling horrible for me going through such torture. He says “boy, those needles sure seemed long coming out” but I decide that is enough detail and I really don’t want to know anymore about the specifics.
On the drive home I keep poking my head to see if I am just imagining that there is no headache and I pay close attention to the fact that I am not having any hot flashes. My anxiety is greatly reduced and I have stopped crying. We get home and I apply the rest of the ointment to the hives that the doctor missed… I line up my little teabags and potions on the counter and try to figure out what they are.
It has been months since I have felt so little misery. I feel exhausted but I feel like me. Steve keeps looking at me in amazement. “I can’t believe your headache is gone.” We run a few errands and when we get home we decide to lay down for a little while…. It has been a very long day. I lay on Steve’s shoulder and we talk about everything that has happened. After a little while he sort of pulls away and says “do you realize you aren’t having hot flashes?”
I am a new age woman and I feel almost reborn. I wonder ,though, if all new age women have the same morbid curiosity about how long the needles actually are? I decide they probably don’t care and perhaps even bury the needles in some arcane ritual at the center of some vortex while celebrating the goddess of menopausal healing.
So, OK, maybe I’m not quite ready to wear all organic cotton and I guess I’m not really ready to know how long the needles are either.