Acupuncture Part Two: The adventure continues with house visits!

In an effort to treat my budding wrist syndrome, last month I saw a traditional Chinese medicine doctor, whose treatment unfortunately left me with new pain and doubtful of his competency. Additional research, however, restored my faith in acupuncture, which I put to the test again a few weeks ago with a new practitioner who made house calls.

Going into the appointment, I felt exceedingly confident. After my experience with the previous doctor, I was ready for the needles and the pain, and simply hoping the whole process would be more professional and comfortable. However, I was unprepared for how different the style of my new practitioner would be. Of course, all doctors’ bedside manners vary immensely, as do their treatment preferences; nevertheless, I was still surprised at how varied acupuncture treatment can be depending on the practitioner.

Her first step was to prick my ear and massage the blood out. Happily for both of us this didn’t last too long since the sight of blood makes me queasy and fidget unmanageably. Following this, she probed my ear for pain with a metal pen-shaped device. Wherever I felt pain she placed an “ear seed”, a small square bandaid with a metal ball, which I was instructed to apply pressure to every so often over the next three days. The following appointment, she used “ear tacks” – the same small square bandaid, but with a short needle instead of a metal ball. The difference between the ear seed and tack was enormous; I couldn’t sleep on my side the full three days the ear tacks were in place. Some post-appointment research revealed these practices are all part of auricular – or ear – acupuncture, which is based on the concept that each part of your body is linked to different spots on your ear. In this way it’s similar to reflexology, which states particular sections of your feet correspond with different zones of your body.

During my second appointment, while I was lying down with the regular acupuncture needles in my shoulders, arms, legs, hands and feet, she lit an incense stick called 艾绒 (àiróng) and used it to heat the needles in my elbows and wrists. While I have no idea whether the ear acupuncture did anything for my wrists, there’s no doubt in my mind this did. She also taught me how to use àiróng on myself. (No needles involved, don’t worry!)

Overall I’m very happy I tried it out, in spite my fear of needles and blood, as well as my nervousness over not knowing what was going to happen since I didn’t understand almost anything she said. Unfortunately I had to stop treatment after our fourth appointment and haven’t been a good student in keeping the àiróng up. And I do mean it’s unfortunate I had to stop. I can’t be sure what was helping, but I do know something was.

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