Saturday, August 21, 2010

Acupuncture II

So it's been a few days since Dr. Wang laid me on my stomach and stuck me with acupuncture needles. The initial tenderness and soreness have eased. There are still several large, perfectly round hickeys from the cupping on my neck and back-there would have been more but the deforestation of my back hair will not commence until Monday night.

I did dream I was a dartboard but other than that I haven't had any serious side-effects.

I would love to say that I am all cured and doing cartwheels (I haven't done a somersault since the 4th grade so that more than likely wouldn't happen even if I was in perfect health.) Truth be known, I am hurting today.

Granted I worked hard yesterday. I mowed the backyard, did a load of laundry, and cooked dinner.

Whew! Calgon take me away!

But I'm feeling bad. In other words, status quo. It's sad that's what my life has come to. That even the simplest things wear me down and make me hurt worse. It also scares the shit out of me. I don't want to be unproductive. There are things I need to do.

I have a life to live.

I do have faith in Dr.Wang. You can't help but feel confident. She exudes quiet confidence. And unless she is the World's Great Bullshitter-and in that case needs to be on late night television hawking things that chop and dice-I believe in her faith and her ability that she can-at the very least-provide some relief for me that up until now has been hit and miss and which came from little plastic pill bottles lined up like good little soldiers on my nightstand.

I've been dealing with my health issues for over a year now. I have seen doctors and have gotten my hopes up. There's a fine line between having faith and getting your hopes up, I might.

I have put my faith in people who should have been there for me. I'm speaking of course of the medical professionals who have given me misinformation, withheld information from me, kept me waiting for answers they didn't have, who have been glib about their inability to help me and who have flat out told me they can't do anything for me.

I'm speaking of the medical professionals who are far too comfortable telling me that there is nothing they can do for me and to send me on my way with a pat on the head and a pocket full of pills. Bastards.

And, yes, even though the HEAD of NEUROLOGY told me that it is perfectly normal for a man of 45 to have herniated and ruptured discs in his neck, I am more convinced now that the crux of the problem lies somewhere in the areas of C2 and C3 and possibly even C4.

I can feel it. I know my body. I know what aches and where it aches.
The more time goes on, I can feel that there is something terribly wrong in my neck and that problem is causing the headaches. Perhaps the bulging disc is putting pressure on the nerves that go into my brain. I don't know. I'm not a doctor. I don't even play one on television. But I know my body. Maybe not the mechanics, but I am in pain and there has to be a reason.

I still have this lingering urge to punch someone in a white lab coat. Maybe not a punch. Maybe a good slapping. Something to knock the smugness out of them and bring them back to the reality of "Guess what. You're a doctor. Fix me."

I'm sorry if you think that sounds unrealistic, but it's simple. It comes down to customer service. And I got to tell you, the customer service I have been receiving has been atrocious.

"I would like to speak to the manager please."

This is no way to run a business and frankly that is all medicine has become these days. Big Business. Big business run by the pharamacutical companies. Don't fix the problem, just give the patient more of our medicines. Get him to take 7 different pills and you get the set of steak knives.

Screw your steak knives and while you're at it, screw you too.

I know there are good doctors out there who work miracles every day.

I am just down on the whole industry right now and if I could, I would boycott. I would love to say that I'm taking my business elsewhere, and I guess, in a sense, I have.

I do believe acupuncture is going to help. If anything, it has relieved a lot of the tension in my neck and shoulders. Who knows? Maybe a few more appointments and the pain will go away too.

My Apologies

This wasn't a particularly funny post. Sorry. I'm not feeling particularly funny today. I'm hurting and I'm tired. I don't ever want this blog to be a downer, but it will be honest and, unfortunately, sometimes there is an ugly, sad side to what I am going through.

I try to stay positive. I really do. I think I keep a fairly positive attitude despite the fact that most days I feel like driving my car into a cinderblock wall. It's hard right now.

Have no worries. I'm not suicidal. Really. I've got too much to live for. A beautiful woman to share my life, family and great friends. I'm not checking out any time soon.

I'm going to beat whatever this. I am.
And if not's acupuncture then it will be something else. I won't stop looking for an answer.

And so this isn't a complete downer of a post, please enjoy the following.

Oh Richard Simmons. You scamp. You slay me.

and that's jody with a "y"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"I saw her today, I saw her face
It was the face I loved and I knew
I had to run away and get down on my knees and pray
That they'd go away

But still they begin
Needles and pins
Because of all my pride
The tears I gotta hide"

Needles and Pins, The Searchers

In my never-ending, it seems, journey to find relief for my pain, I decided that maybe acupuncture would be the way to go. It couldn't hurt. Right? Well, that is to say that it couldn't possibly make me feel any worse.

I've never had acupuncture before. I had an idea of what it is, from, like a great deal of things in my life, television and movies. I will be honest and say that the image of me with a body full of porcupine quills did flash before my eyes several times. I wondered if I would leak like a colander when I had a drink of water. Of course those were all just silly thoughts. Silly thoughts were much better than thoughts of 10 inch stainless steel needles being stuck into my body.

But, like I said, what did I really have to lose? Nobody else was offering any solutions. A friend suggested acupuncture. I said "Sure. Why not?"

I met with Dr. Wang today for the first of what will probably be many appointments. Yes. Her last name is Wang. Go on. I'll wait while you make funny jokes in your head.

Ok. Done? Good.

Actually her first name and last name sound a little like John Wayne which probably means I'm saying her name all wrong. It does remind me of the character in the 2000 movie Shanghai Noon starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson. Chan plays a character named Chon Wang. Upon hearing this, Wilson's character says "John Wayne. That's a horrible name for a cowboy."

Of course I made no jokes about Dr. Wang's name. Wang is a very good name for doctor who practices acupuncture and I'm guessing it's a good thing that the first doctor I saw for an acupuncture appointment was Chinese. I'm not saying the Chinese are better at the practice of acupuncture than anyone else, but records indicate that the Chinese may have been performing acupuncture since 1600 BC. Sounds like they have had some practice. Sounds like they may have worked out the kinks.

Maybe there is a bright kid from the community college down the street who is good at acupuncture. I'll stick with Wang. Give me Wang! (Now there's a bumper sticker!) Maybe the Irish are good at it too, you just never hear stories. Perhaps there is a Eskimo acupuncturist who is working miracles. I just haven't come across them. And they're not here in Richmond. I think I would have heard or read about the Eskimo acupuncturist by now.

It's a comfort thing for me. An innate sense of confidence and trust. Yes. I confess. A trust that is totally based on a superficial perception of a particular race, but I'm just being honest here.

Tell me the truth. Would you pick the name Goldberg from the Yellow Pages when you are looking for an acupuncturist? Tax attorney? Yes. Perhaps a proctologist even? Sure. Doctor Goldberg? That man is head and shoulders above the others when it comes to the rear end. If someone told you that their dentist, Dr. Chatting, was from the United Kingdom, would you do a double take? C'mon. Really?

Call me shallow. Call me a cab if someone else other than someone named Wang is gonna be sticking me with long needles. Get me my Wang.

I liked Dr. Wang. She is a small woman with a quiet demeanor and there was something about her that appealed to me right off the bat. And no. It wasn't because she was Chinese. Maybe it was her very positive attitude and confidence. Not once during our hour long session today did she tell me she couldn't help me.

She did the simplest things to relax me and give me hope that maybe this was the route I should have been going all along. She told me I would feel better. I would feel relief. In other words, she did what a doctor is supposed to do...give their patient a sense of hope.

She told me that she had been in this country for ten years. I asked if she liked the United States and she told me, smiling, that she did. If she had stayed in China, she explained, she would have to practice medicine for the government. Here, in the United States, she was able to have her own practice.

The exam room was small and sparse. There were some charts of the human body, shown in a variety of poses, with dots and lines criss-crossing the body to show flows of energy and where to place the needles. There was some other charts and some small tables full of strange looking devices and containers.

And there was also the table. Covered in the traditional white butcher paper, it was much like a massage table and had a place for my face to slide down into. It was tight fit (I have a big face) and Dr. Wang gave me a little shove.


As we talked and Dr. Wang reviewed my personal information, she came across my birth date. She told me that on the Chinese Zodiac, my birth date coincides with the sign of The Dragon.

In Eastern philosophy, The Dragon is said to be a deliverer of good fortune and a master of authority. Therefore, those people born in Dragon years are to be honored and respected. (You all read that. Right?) Furthermore, conformation is a Dragon's curse. Rules and regulations are made for other people. Restrictions blow out the creative spark that is ready to flame into life. Dragons must be free and uninhibited.

Oh yeah. I am so a Dragon. A wood Dragon, to be more precise, because I was born in 1964. So don't rain on my parade and don't blow out my creative spark. Actually there was a lot in the description of The Dragon that did apply to me. For the positive and the negative. Wood Dragons are outspoken and at times a bit pushy to quell everyone, even in the most friendly quarrel.

Ok. So moving on.
Stop it. I know what you're thinking. You're blowing on my spark.
Let's move on.


When one hears the word acupuncture, one thing comes to mind. Needles. And "Damn. That would be a great SCRABBLE word." Okay. So when one hears the word acupuncture, two things come to mind. Big stabby devices the size of crochet needles and total SCRABBLE domination.

Pain wasn't really a concern of mine. I've actually got a high tolerance for pain. Well, for unusual pain, let's say. I don't even flinch when I get a tattoo. Seriously. I just sit there calmly and let them do what they need to do. And usually, the artist stops several time to ask if I am okay. I tell them I am fine. I tell them I've gone to my other place.

It's the stupid little pains I have a hard time with, I am embarrassed to say.

Nothing hurts more than stubbing a toe. Good GOD AMIGHTY! Or biting your cheek when you're eating dinner. Ouch! If I was ever captured by the enemy (I don't know. Pick one.) and they wanted to get information out of me, all they would have to do is just hint at the threat of torture by pimple popping. Here you go, Comrade. Here's the plans for the bridge, a schedule for our escape, my bank PIN number and my recipe for bread pudding. I'd rather skinny dip in a pool of piranha than have someone climb on top of me to squeeze the "big Mother" on my back. Just leave it. If it gets too big I will name it and look for an apartment for it in the city.

I was pretty sure I could sweat acupuncture needles. As long as she stayed above the waist. If she had gone anywhere near the boys, I would have been out of there like John Edwards at a Father's Day Brunch.

I'm sorry. Even if it meant relief and pain-free days ahead, no one is turning my scrotum into a pin cushion. SEE! I'm only typing that and the guys have retreated inside me until the All Clear is given.

It's okay, guys. Really. No one can hurt you here. This is the safe zone.

Dr. Wang began the acupuncture process by placing a needle at the very top of my head. I felt her rooting around up there and just figured that she was looking for the three 6's. Then all of a sudden I felt a little poke. (I beg your pardon?)

And so it began. Each time the process for applying the needles was the same. First there was some deep tissue massage and then some rubbing and finally the application of something I am assuming was an antiseptic swab of some sort. I would then feel the tiniest of pricks.

(Do you need a moment to compose yourself?)

Just one little poke and that was it. (I'll wait.) Truthfully, I've had mosquito bites that hurt more. One by one the little needles were placed on my back, up my arms (or down my arms if your right-handed) and on my neck. And as expected, I didn't feel a thing. I didn't even know to go to my other place. (Which, if truth, be known is actually Disneyworld) As also expected, Dr. Wang asked if I was okay. I laughed and said yes. I reminded her that I was Dragon.

She laughed and then jammed a needle in my neck.
(Mommy! Dragon has an owwie.)


Cupping refers to the ancient Chinese practice in which a cup is applied to the skin and the pressure in the cup is reduced, either by using a change in heat or by suctioning the air out, so that the skin and superficial muscle layer is drawn into and held by the cup. Okay. Sounds good to me. Let's do it.

As she prepare to cup me, Dr. Wang told me I was powerful.
Blushing a little, I said 'thank you.'
Then she told me that 'my back hair was powerful. Very powerful."

("The Force is strong with this one.")

Thank you Dr. Wang?
I mean. Seriously. What does one say?

Dr. Wang then told me that it might be difficult for the cups to stick to my body because of my woolly coat. She would try. Then she took a deep breath and began gathering the little glass cups. She would forge ahead. What a trooper!

Apparently she would have had an easier time making Post-It notes stick to a llama. I've never done that, but I can imagine it is a difficult task.

As I laid there, face down, staring at the floor through the table, I heard the unmistakable sound of glass cups popping off, rolling off the table, and then on to the floor. Luckily none of them broke.


Sorry about.


This really is a little humiliating.


Every single one of them popped off of my body with a reverse sucking noise, followed shortly thereafter by a crashing sound. And it was like listening to an old time radio show because, remember, I'm face down staring at the carpet.

It was a little embarrassing, I have to say. As a guy with a hairy back, I've suffered some indignities in my past. I've been stared at when I go to the beach. Little kids have run to their mothers crying. I've heard all the Chewbacca jokes I can stand and after my third capture and release I know better than to travel to the Northwest during Bigfoot hunting season. I've got a hairy back. Shoot me. It happened in my mid-thirties. I went to bed one night as smooth as a 12 year old diving champion and woke up wearing a bear costume.

"My God," I thought. "My mother was right! And it spread from my palms!!"

Later, as I was getting ready to leave, Dr. Wang gave me strict instructions to shave down before my next appointment.

Sure. Easy for her to say. How was I going to assemble a team of experts that quick? Who was I? Ethan Hunt? Yeah. I got an impossible mission for you, Mr. Hunt. Shave this guy's back before next Tuesday. If you refuse this mission, please be advised that you may get beaned by a flying acupuncture cup.

So the cups continued to fly off my body and Dr. Wang continued to pick them up and press them harder onto the shag rug that is my back. (I know. Sexy right? You all have a new found respect for my girlfriend now. Don't you?)


Moxibustion is the application of heat resulting from the burning of a small bundle of tightly bound herbs, or moxa, to the targeted acupoints.

Basically, Dr. Wang wrapped up some stuff that smelled like a lot of college dorms and burned them on top of my neck. She's a brave women. Apparently she didn't see the NO BRUSH FIRES sign posted on the small of my back.

It's weird having a small campfire burning on your body. The heat did feel good, I have to say. Until, that is, it felt as if there was a bonfire burning on body!

AAAAA! Holy Crap!

Oh. By the way, Dr. Wang. When you hear me scream like that, but more importantly, when you smell burnt bacon and see smoke, that's your cue to take the small bundle of burning herbs off my back and douse me with water.

So, I'd been sucked on and I'd been deep muscle massaged and stabbed with tiny little stainless steel needles. I can't say that I felt better, but was confident in Dr. Wang that her promises for relief would come true.

As I headed home, a little tender and sore and smelling of burnt herbs, I prayed I wouldn't get stopped by the police. Later I would realize that I was covered in big purple bruises from the cupping. They didn't really hurt. I just looked like I was covered in hickies. Now I'm really glad I didn't get stopped by the police.

"Afternoon Officer. My license and registration? Sure. Here you go. What's that you say? A strange smell? Really? I hadn't noticed. Purple hickies? I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about...Hickies, huh? Oh! I can explain. You see...I'm Dragon."

and that's jody with a "y"