Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pin Pricks

I recently signed a sponsorship deal on behalf of my league that partnered us up with an Acupuncturist. I’ve always been intrigued by acupuncture, but it was always out of my price range, so I never allowed myself to fully research the theory and history behind the ancient practice. Aside from anecdotal evidence that supported effectiveness of the treatment and knowing that the basic premise was having needles inserted into one’s body parts according to some sort of map or guide, I’ve known next to nothing about acupuncture, yet I trusted our new sponsor enough to allow her to insert needles into my body for the second time yesterday evening.

When I was six and receiving allergy shots for the first time, I was terrified of the needles twice a week at the doctor’s office. There were the nurses who squeezed your arm so tight that the squeezing itself hurt, and you’d think that if your arm didn’t pop like a balloon when they stuck the needle in, then the pain from the needle would be at least as bad as the arm-squeezing, if not more so. Then, there were the other nurses who would barely touch your arm, and you couldn’t imagine that that would be good either – that perhaps because they weren’t squeezing enough that the needle would not only go all the way into your arm, but it would go in so far that it would hit your bone and that would compound the pain as well. Regardless, once you were within their grip, there was no turning back. It was going to happen, but would it be slow and drawn out, your anxiety let to build and panic worsen before it actually happened, or would it be over before you even had time to worry about how loose or tight they were squeezing? I could never remember from one visit to the next which nurses were the best: quick and painless.

Getting allergy shots as a kid is an odd thing. I was young enough that I wasn’t ever really asked how I felt about it – I was just told it was something I had to do. As I got a little older, my mom learned how to administer the shots. Even though I never questioned the necessity even then, I was allowed slightly more leeway to become anxiety ridden before the shots were administered. It would be before bedtime, and my mom would call me into the kitchen, not telling me why. After a while I grew smart to that ploy, and just like my dog, Calvin, when I call him into the kitchen to clean his ears, my head would go down, and I’d creep slowly out of whatever room I was in and away from the direction of the kitchen, as if I hadn’t heard my name called.

I’m unsure the exact point in time when you generally stop accepting the word of others and need to find out “for yourself” if something is true in order for you to believe it. I no longer get allergy shots, not necessarily because I was allowed to make the decision to stop them. But if I was ever told I should go on them again, I’d surely think twice, research their actual effectiveness, and take my time making a decision of whether to start treatment or not.

Not this time. I’d like to say it was because my home internet has been out, but that’s not exactly true, because I have internet at work and could easily do some research on my lunch break. I don’t know what made me abandon my usual methodology and schedule an appointment for the same day I was to pick up the contract.

Is it possible to jones for acupuncture? I’ve been asking myself this for the past week, because ever since my first treatment I’d been looking really forward to going back, and even last night – after my second treatment – I found myself wondering if one could do it, say, every day, and not just once a week or once every few weeks.

For me, the results of a treatment are subtle. It’s not even like I have seen this major change yet (or researched what had been done to me), and I’m ready to get stuck again at the drop of a hat. I suppose part of it could be the hope that acupuncture will help me battle depression and get sick less often during the year. Maybe I’m keeping myself at arms length in order to allow myself to hope, because usually the hope fades after I find out how things really work.

I did some research this morning on the type of treatment I’m receiving – Five Element acupuncture – and I can say that the hope isn’t gone so far. Strangely enough, some of the thoughts behind acupuncture correspond to how I view the world and everything in it – sharing one energy. I’ve also got to say that the acupuncture research done at Harvard through PET imaging is not something I expected but I am happy about nonetheless (PET imaging enables scientist to view people’s electromagnetic fields within their bodies, and when acupuncture needles were placed in subjects, the imaging actually tracked a pulse of energy moving along the exact lines that are the ancient diagrams that outline acupuncture’s meridians).

It’s funny to me that years after my fear of needles began (and I still have an intense fear of having blood drawn or getting an IV), I’m actually looking forward to and paying someone to in a way replicate that which has terrified me in order to alleviate my anxiety. I guess it’s all a matter of perception. And whether I’m just perceiving the subtle benefits I’ve experienced so far or not, I do know that it’s had an effect on me, and a positive one at that. I’m looking forward to my next treatment.

Hopefully I'll be too distracted to recollect my fear of needles that I just remembered while writing this blog entry.


Jan said...

Ooooh, I loved going to acupuncture, or as I fondly call it, "stickers." Fifteen years ago, I couldn't look at needles without fainting, but now? Love them. I've been saving $ with ING; I may have to take some out and indulge. (You can get a price break with CF/BS insurance with certain practitioners; did you check the website?)

SKabs said...

one of the people doing that acupuncture research at Harvard is my ex. the best thing about dating him was the free acupuncture. that was probably about it, tho. ha!