14 July 2005


On my lunchtime walk yesterday, I ran into my friend Becca. Tenth Avenue in midtown is not normally a place you'd think you'd run into someone -- or walk, for that matter, if you could possibly help it -- but Becca happens to work in the building next to mine. We never see each other except by chance.

Becca had just come from an acupuncture session, and said she almost went home instead of back to work, because she felt so relaxed and sleepy. Relaxed and sleepy are two of my favorite things, so when I got back to the office, I investigated whether acupuncture was covered on our insurance plan.

Hooray! For $30 a session, and no pre-certification, I, too, could achieve the Becca state of being. I looked up practitioners in my neighborhood, picked out one on 94th Street with a Chinese name, Li Qi. Acupuncture is one of those areas where I think racial profiling is a good thing. I called, and they had an appointment at 6pm that very evening.

Then came the bad news. The receptionist called my insurance company, and it turns out that it didn't cover acupuncture after all. Did I want to keep the appointment?

Yes. As antithetical as it is to the alternative medicine approach, I am an impulse consumer. I was going to be relaxed by 7 o'clock no matter what it cost me.

After filling out a medical history and a brief exam, consisting of feeling my pulse on both wrists and looking at my tongue, Dr. Qi announced that I have low energy, and asked whether I was tired a lot. Uh, yeah. Pretty much all the time. Plus, I get plenty of sleep and according to my friend Cricket, I probably don't have leukemia (she's a doctor, even). Clearly, my Qi is not flowing sufficiently.

A few minutes later, I'm lying on my back on a massage table, towels covering my crotch and breasts, and Dr. Qi is putting needles into my belly.

Into my belly! One just below my navel; one two inches below that. Two on either side of my navel, and one just below my breastbone. I am the most ticklish, hyper-sensitive person about my midsection and soles of my feet person I have ever met. Yet here I am, trying not to think about the fact that the five shards of metal sticking out of my lower torso are being held vertical by MY OWN FLESH.

A needle in each of my ears and on each side of my neck. In each of my ankles and shins. "Thirty minutes," says Dr. Qi, and he turns down the lights and leaves the room. I try not to move too much, fearful that one of the neck needles will get stuck further into my flesh and work its way slowly over the course of several months down my body until it comes out my big toe.

I don't feel much at first, but after a few minutes, I get a pleasant tingling sensation. Dr. Qi comes in twice to check on me, and tweaks each of the needles. He is tweaking needles IN MY BELLY. Stop that!

The needles come out, Dr. Qi massages all the areas where they've been, then rolls me over to my stomach for needles into my shoulders. My right shoulder has been sore lately, probably because of all the limes I've been juicing for limeade (much better than lemonade; you should try it).

This time the effect is more immediate and pronounced. Greater tingling, and a pleasant ... oh, I'm not really here... am I? ... feeling. I hallucinate about the cast of "Friends" for a while, then Dr. Qi comes back in, more massaging, and I'm done.

I walked home in a valium-like daze. I've never taken valium, but I've had it's baby sister, ativan, plenty of times (one of the great things about Ghana is that you can buy ativan over the counter, thus ensuring you won't possibly run out on the long flight home, or the taxi ride from JFK on the BQE), and it's wonderful. Acupuncture, fantastic. I am definitely going back.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my god! You actually did it! I didn't know you actually did it! Congratulations! Was it better than plain ol' massage? I am jealous. Now I must get accupuncture. MUST.

Except for the belly thing. Do you think he would just do my back?

- Anne

3:29 PM  
Blogger Excellent Walker said...

I'm sure when you pay someone, you can get them to do whatever you want. I never get that much out of a plain ol' massage, so I did think this combination of whatever acupuncture releases and the massage was better. That said, my shoulder is not cured.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Stuntmother said...

Holy cow. I'm totally in love with the idea AND I live next door to an acupuncturist who does "neighbor rates." Nirvana -- relaxation -- flowing Qi -- mmmm.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Excellent Walker said...

Neighbor rates??? LUCKY.

6:54 PM  
Anonymous jackie said...

How often are you supposed to do this? It's awfully tempting, the way you describe it...

11:45 PM  

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