Where: It was near Detroit.
Why this is on my list: I specifically remember the moment when I decided I wanted to try acupuncture. About 6 years ago I was in the backseat of my dad's car, he and my step mom had taken me to lunch at a little French restaurant and I saw a sign for an acupuncture center and thought 'who would ever do that?...well maybe I will'. Then I looked across the street and saw a Polynesian Dance center and thought 'wow that would be fun too'. I was so intrigued about this very foreign practice and surprised to have found it in such a small town in Michigan. As soon as I got home I ordered an 'Acupuncture for Dummies' book and was totally fascinated about this 3,000 year old medicine. I called a place to check on prices, it was too expensive for me at the time but as soon as I started seeing it on groupon for $25 I was anxious to buy it.
Cost: It was a birthday gift to me from my husband, he found it on groupon for $25-a regularly priced session at this facility cost $75 which is comparatively low.
Will I do it again? I've mentioned my motto before 'when it comes to my brains, bones, bloodstream and organs I tend to stand on the borderline of becoming a mental health patient. Where I was excited to try acupuncture I was also just a tad nervous that the following could happen; unsterile needles would lead a mountain of diseases including HIV and all the hepatitises, paralysis, infertility and permanent nerve damage. I suppose now that it's written down this may seem a little irrational to constantly assume the absolute worst case scenarios, but you're a product of your environment. Recently my mom told my daughter not to put dirt in her mouth because she would get botulism poisoning...she also used to tell me when I was little that if I played with my gum I'd get polio.
Something I'd recommend? If you read about my experience below you will see that this was not my favorite experience. However, I wholeheartedly believe in it's healing agents, would certainly recommend it to anyone who had any medical ailment, and even I would have it done again...what I wouldn't recommend is doing it just to do it....I am generally against having experiences this way but when groupon beckons...you buy before time runs out!
A few days before my appointment I started to get pretty nervous about the whole thing and like many of my adventures of this nature, with even the smallest potential for something to go awry, I'd like a 30 minute long introduction explaining what will happen, what to expect, what are the possible scenarios for disaster followed with some statistics and 8-12 minutes of solid reassurance that I will be ok. That's not what happened on this day. In fact the acupuncturist walked in on me while I was still undressing (down to undies and bra which I was totally not prepared for) it didn't seem to bother her that I was still removing my pants when she walked in....tough it bothered me for it isn't often that I'm standing practically nude in front of a total stranger. I learned a lot about our cultural differences that day.
Oh so eloquently I hurled myself onto the bed and pulled the Louis Vuitton sheet over me as quickly as I could....only so it could be removed immediately. Within 2 minutes of entering that building Dr Xu had inserted the first needle as I layed there intense panic and anguish I felt like I was going to lose my mind. After she put the first one in my skin, the same thought ran through my head as when I jumped out of a plane "oh my God, I just committed suicide". She didn't explain anything, she was just jabbing needles in me like I was a dart board. The Dr asked what I was there for where the real answer was 'I had a groupon that was about to expire' I simply said 'weight loss' because I knew the chances of those needles ending up in my back or face were pretty slim with the weight loss response as opposed to what I probably should have told her, that I have a small tendency to be anxious.
She started putting needles in my stomach...ok, I can handle this. Then she asked if I wanted more children....'what, why would you ask me that...are you wanting to endanger my baby making organs?!?!' ok....I can't handle this. Then she started putting them in my upper thigh....and when I say 'upper thigh' I really mean as close to my vagina as my full coverage underwear would allow her. So ok... you can only imagine that at this moment my level of stress was about to just max right out.
The 'willy nilly method' of inserting the needles took less than 2-3 minutes then she pulled out a machine and told me that this was for 'electromagnetic shocks'-I very seriously told her "oh I don't think I'm going to like that very much." She didn't argue with me and put the machine from 1984 back under the table out of sight.
She turned off the light and said "try to relax, I'll be back in 30 minutes".
"What? you're leaving?"....YOU'RE LEAVING...FOR 30 MINUTES!!?? WHAT IF I GO INTO SHOCK?!
"Close your eyes, take a nap"
'Oh my God. Take a nap? Are you out of your mind?!? I don't think my eyes were ever opened so wide, like I had been given a shot of enough adrenaline to awaken a comatosed hippo. Part of me wanted to shout out to the lobby that I was done and wanted the needles out...the other part of me started to giggle thinking 'what have I gotten myself into now' I tried to focus to be in the moment. After all Dannie from My Ultimate Life List just did this and she seems to be alright. Let me take this all in, here you are laying on a bed with 40 needles in your naked body in the office of an acupuncturist who learned this ancient medicine from her mother when she was a little girl- be in the moment, be in the moment....nope, I can't do this. Yes you can, the famous basketball player Tayshaun Prince comes here, she must be pretty good, he's got enough money to go anywhere and chooses to come here. I was searching for anything to ease the mental meltdown I was having.
Thankfully another, older, Chinese woman walked in to check on me, I felt a huge sense of relief until she looked at me with the most distressed look on her face asked "Are you OK?"...I said "yes, why, is there something wrong?" Why was she looking at me like that, had they put a needle in the wrong spot and wanted to make sure I still had my basic functions available to me? She answered me in Chinese and then walked out of the room. Now I was more frightened and confused than before. Five minutes later she came back in...and with the same look of alarm on her face she asked again "are you ok??" "Yes, I think so, what do you think? How much longer?" she said something in Chinese and walked away again. Another five minutes went by and she came in again...asked if I was ok and then while motioning with her hands said "Massage?" I said "what? with the needles still in? Does it cost extra? What do you massage?" She said something in Chinese and walked away. I was interested if I would see her again. 5 minutes later, my buddy reappeared, this time she had about 15 needles inserted into her corner of her eyes- she pointed to them...as if I hadn't noticed and said some things in Chinese- I said "I don't want you to do that to me"...true to form, she said something in Chinese and walked away.
The next time my intermittent visitor came in she brought the dr with her...they both started plucking out the needles. The acupuncturist, undoubtedly looking for confirmation or appraise, said "Most people find acupuncture very relaxing" I looked at her without batting an eyelash and said "Oh."
She told me to put my clothes back on and then she was going to put some seeds in my ears. I couldn't even imagine what in the hell she was talking about but I was emphatically certain that I did not want this person to put any seeds in my ears. I was hoping I could just sneak out and she wouldn't notice me. As if. She was waiting at the front desk with her little seeds, she gave no explanation other than it would help with the weight loss and that it cost $5 more. "oh, you know what, maybe next time!" I would have told her anything just so I could get my little seedless ears out of there as quickly as possible. I was ready for this LIFE LIST experience to be over with. On my hour long drive home, all sorts of neurotic thoughts filled my head and I had wished I had not done it, especially not 1 week before our big trip to Disney World. I called Joel and asked him to look up all the possible side effects to acupuncture, They didn't seem too bad, nothing life threatening but in general I still felt very weird. And during our 4 day drive to Orlando I kept announcing that my arm felt weird.
All in all I did think her office seemed very clean and she claims to have a lifetime of learning this tradition passed from generation to generation, I liked that she didn't receive some certificate from a 6 month long program however, culturally I think Americans need more sugarcoating...this American does anyhow.
Though I do have a very adventurous spirit, it does not mean that I do these things without extreme trepidation. I should start calling myself "The Trepidatious Traveler" "The Anxious Adventurer" "The Fearful Flyer" - you heard it here first! I hope I don't talk anyone out of having acupuncture, I think the idea of it is great...I'm just a nervous nelly.
“There must be something to acupuncture…
you never see any sick porcupines”