So off I went to the Virginia College of Oriental Medicine for my acupuncture visit. In the waiting room I signed my signature six different times on six different magazines, and then got the health waivers which also required six different signatures. Generally my signature looks the same so I had to really exercise some creativity in making it different all those times. On the last form- my patient confidentiality report- I just drew the state of Idaho where my signature should have gone. It was surprisingly accurate and I was pleased to see that all my practice signing magazines was really paying off. While waiting I walked around handing people the signed magazines, telling them to find me on page 32. Many people were confused. Also in the waiting room there was a jar of what appeared to be human organs in formaldehyde, many, many magazines aimed at women, and coffee. Of the three, I would have to say the human organs were more current than the womanly magazines or the coffee, and that's not saying much. I picked one magazine up and read about the Oscars... of 2011. You may recall the most shocking Oscar upset that year- when Rick Baker and Dave Elsey won the "Achievement in Makeup" Oscar for 'The Wolfman.' Wow, somehow I had totally forgotten about that.
|I think these may have been human organs soaking in the waiting room. It's a bad picture because I had to snap it quick while the receptionist was distracted. I didn't want to end up in a jar...|
Ms. Chuang asked me why I was there. I told her I had been given a gift certificate and that I always enjoy a good massage. To this, she replied: "Massage feel good. Acupuncture, no. Needles no feel good. Different from massage." That made me a little nervous, and I almost backed out but then decided I ought to stick things out, or stick things in, as it were. Throughout the whole interview I got the sense that Ms. Chuang already had the answers she wanted in mind, regardless of the words I spoke which she couldn't understand.
Ms. Chuang: "You hot person or cold person?"
Me: "I'm doing just fine, thank you."
MC: "But not now. Other times. You hot or cold person?"
Me: "Do you mean physically? or are you talking about my personality?"
MC: "Your body. When your friends are comfortable, you more hot or more cold?"
Me: "Well, I think when others are comfortable, I'm pretty comfortable too. I wouldn't say my body temperature is that much off from what it should be."
MC: "You must decide. Hot of cold?"
Me: "Well, I guess I've been cold on more occasions than hot, so I'll say I'm a cold person."
MC: "Okay. Good. How much you sweat?"
Me: "What do you mean? Do you want a measurement? Like in cups and ounces?"
MC: "Yes. When you exercise, do you sweat?"
Me: "Of course."
MC: "You sweat more or less than friends?"
Me: "This sounds kind of like the heat question. When I'm playing basketball with my friends, I'd say I sweat about the same amount as them. It depends on the outside temperature and how hard we are working."
MC: "So more or less than friends?"
Me: "I guess less."
MC: "But what about at night. Night sweats?"
Me: "Um, no."
MC: "You sure?"
Me: "Umm, yes?"
She was trying very hard to get me to admit a deep and profound physical impairment. We covered the five vital organs, stress, bloating, body temperature, blood circulation, and fatigue, none of which I differ from the general population by more than a few standard deviations. Ms. Chuang honestly seemed disappointed that I didn't have anything for her to fix with her little needles. I thought she was asking all these questions to make sure I was healthy enough for acupuncture, but I guess she was fishing for faults. I was satisfied that I was healthy; she was depressed and disappointed that I was young and in my 20s. But, we decided to pursue the procedure promptly.
I took my shoes and socks off, laid down on a bed, she put a heater on me (remember, I'm a cold person), and then inserted 16 needles in my body, ranging from my feet/ankles all the way up to the crown of my head. I just felt a little prick with each one. Then she put on a soft piano CD and left me. It's a good thing it was a soft CD because it was jammed into my thigh the whole time. For fifteen minutes I fell into a deep, relaxing trance. It was wonderful. I have to say though, I almost feel like the needles were secondary. I would have been just as relaxed had I been in the same circumstances without the piercings. When my lethargic, adult nap time was over Ms. Chuang came thundering back in. I got the sense that she had another client after me, and that she sensed I wouldn't be back based on my health concerns. I don't think I was her top priority, and I think she may give other patients 30 minutes. She came in, took the needles out, told me I was done, then left. No "How was it?" or anything. She left the room very quickly and I was left to my own devices to find my shoes (luckily they were just where I had left them) and see my way out.
Overall I enjoyed the experience, but more for its comedy, relaxation, and cultural experience than for its medicinal purposes. I don't think I'd go back in lieu of a massage, but there's a slim chance I would return if I was, say, an incessant sweater or extremely hot all the time.