Friday, November 12, 2010

Prick Me, Baby

I love accupuncture. I've been doing it for many years, off and on. I can't remember how I got started, but my first accupuncturist, Gloria, was really wonderful. She was a nurse, and she wanted to start a program with the hospital for end of life care. It was her passion and it quickly became difficult to get an appointment with her for accupuncture, because she was moving on to different things. She was wonderful, though, and if I had a headache, she could stick that pin in and slowly twist and my headache was gone like magic.

It does matter what sort of practitioner you get. I started accupuncture again this fall because I wanted to treat my super-tight ligament on one of my calves that tightens horribly while I sleep and sometimes wakes me with incredibly painful cramps. There was a provider across the street from my office, so I saw him...once. What a hack. I should have known: I had seen the chiropractor in the same office off and on for years, and he is all. about. the. money. I have never been driven so crazy by a health care provider as by this chiropractor's office. Calling me to remind me of appointments, to remind me to schedule appointments, blah blah blah. I finally told them NO MORE PHONE CALLS...EVER. But foolishly, I went to the accupuncturist in the same office. He jabbed a few pins in and billed my insurance about $300. Then came after me for the difference when the insurance company only paid about $65. HELLO -- here's my Explanation of Benefits stating that I only have to pay my $15 copay and you've agreed to waive the rest. Really slimy business practices.

Oh, also: I asked that accupuncturist to put in pins for quitting smoking (as if it's a button that must be pushed, haha). Well, he couldn't do that, but he has a special 10-session program that is not covered by insurance that involves treatments and aromatherapy and blah, blah, blah.


I decided my next accupuncturist must be an authentic practitioner of eastern medicine. I specifically searched my insurance company website for names I could not pronounce, I'll admit. But then I happened to ask my chiropractor if he knew an accupuncturist...and he referred me to someone wonderful. She is an authentic-ish practitioner of eastern medicine with a strictly Biff-and-Muffy sounding name. But I adore her, positively adore her. I saw her for the first time on 10/16, the day I stopped smoking. She sticks me full of needles and pins and gets them zinging the way I like, while we laugh and chat. Then I get to zone out under the heat lamp and warm blankies for half an hour or so. I've probably seen her or her coworker eight or ten times in the last month. I'm tapering off, now, my next appointment is the 27th.

So...accupuncture for the newbie. Don't be afraid, it doesn't hurt. The needles are super skinny. Some of them sting a bit going in: the most painful I've had are for the cravings/detox for smoking. Those are the five pins that go in each ear. They're the worst, but they aren't bad at all.

Accupuncture is all about energy flow through your body. I can't speak to the meaning of it all, but I do know I like it and it works for me. I've mentioned that accupuncture can make a headache disappear for me. And if the needle goes into the wrong spot, or not deep enough, you notice it. It just feels like nothing. But a needle to a good spot gives you a little "zing," a little something that tells you it's working. And while I can't say that accupuncture made me quit smoking, I can certainly say that it helped. My first visit was on the day I quit, and I've had several follow up appointments and I am nearly a month smoke-free. The relationship between correlation and causation? I dunno. It worked. I don't question it. :)

If you're at all interested, give it a try. I am a proponent of any self-care treatments involving heated massage tables, warm blankies and quiet time spent by oneself.

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