Friday, August 27, 2010

...the tough get...acupuncture?

My recent adventures in trochanteric bursitis led me to Rochester Community Acupuncture last night. I'd had acupuncture once before, years ago, so I had an idea of what to expect. But Rochester Community Acupuncture is different in that it operates on a sliding pay scale (you have the option of paying $15-$35, based on what you can afford, no questions asked) and the acupuncture treatment is performed in a communal setting rather than in a private room. You get your own big, comfortable recliner and personalized treatment, but there are other patients in the room at the same time.

The owner/acupuncturist asked me some questions about my hip pain and verified that I had gone to see my physician first (acupuncture is a complement to traditional Western medicine, not a substitute). Then she felt my pulse and asked if she could see my tongue (strange, but ok. when in Rome...). Later on, while reading about acupuncture, I found out that there are 4 diagnostic methods the acupuncturist can use, one of which, "inspection," includes analyzing the face and especially the tongue. After looking at my tongue, she wrote down some notes (which I was super curious to read but unfortunately I couldn't get a good look) and then inserted about 15 or so tiny acupuncture needles into my hands, arms, feet, legs and ear. You can feel a tiny prick when the needles are inserted, but there's no lasting pain.

Then I was supposed to lie back and rest for 40-45 minutes while the acupuncture got to work unblocking my qi or whatever. (Chinese philosophy postulates that illness can be caused when the flow of qi (energy) in the body gets disrupted, and that restoring the flow of qi balances the yin and yang forces in the body, keeping it healthy. Western science theorizes that acupuncture may work by stimulating the release of neurotransmitters, which can dull pain and strengthen the immune system). Frankly I don't really care how it works, I just want my bursitis to be gone so I can get back to running full speed ahead.

I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to be doing during the relaxation time. I closed my eyes and tried to relax and breathe, but I kept getting distracted by other people. First it was a phone call from a difficult customer who didn't seem to understand the sliding pay scale, judging from the receptionist's having to explain it multiple times before transferring the call to the owner. Then a new patient came in and was describing all her ailments: sleeping 10 hours a day, being tired all the time, experiencing back and neck pain, getting stomach cramps after eating at the Olive Garden.

By this time, I started to feel really lucky that I didn't have these peoples' problems. My bursitis was looking pretty minor in comparison.

The acupuncturist said the treatment has a cumulative effect so she wanted me to come once or twice a week at first. I made another appointment for Monday, and I am definitely bringing headphones. My hip actually does feel better today, but I don't know if that's due to the Ibuprofen, rest, ice, acupuncture or some combination. I'm just hoping the pain will go the way of socks lost in the dryer or ships vanished in the Bermuda Triangle, never to reappear.

Lyric of the moment: "I don't feel the way I've ever felt, I know. Gonna smile and not get worried. I try but it shows..."

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