Sunday, December 5, 2010

On Pins and Needles

A day after my arrival in Seattle this past Wednesday night, I went to see my doctor about my back condition.  After consultation and talking about my condition, my doctor indicated that there was nothing serious with my back.  If there were, he would have noticed something from the complete physical performed last December and February.  I had seen him last December, after the onset of my back condition, and had a follow-up this past February.  There was nothing he could offer except the same battery of tests that had been done by the doctors in Abu Dhabi.  I asked his opinion on chiropractors.  He said that it was up to me, but his recommendation would be to see a acupuncturist, instead.  He did not guarantee relief and he indicated that he really can't explain how and why it (sometimes) work, but he said to give it a try -- it won't hurt you (his exact words).

So this past Friday, I had my first session with an acupuncturist (is this the right term for the person providing the acupuncture service?).  I signed a lot of forms, including waiver forms that resolution and relief were not guaranteed.  The acupuncturist is a hippie-type, "earthy" lady who has been schooled in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Before my first treatment, she asked a lot questions about my condition, as well as what my "average" day is like.  I even had to stick out my tongue twice for her.  Her office had a heavy smell of vitamin supplements and herbal medicine.  Her office, the waiting room, and the treatment room were all cluttered -- very different from the clinic/hospital look and setting.

After the question and answer session, I was led to the treatment room.  I was asked to remove all my clothing, except for my underwear and lie face down on the massage table.  When she came back to the room, she started placing the needles all over me -- starting from my feet, ankles, lower leg, back, shoulders, neck, hands, lower arms, head, and ear lobes.  All along, I did not feel any sharp pain from the needle pricks.  She then placed a heat lamp on top of my lower back.

She left me in the room for about 25 minutes.  If I needed anything, I could easily call for her.  A two-way radio in the room was connected to her office.  While waiting lying face down with all needles on me, my arm got a bit restless and had to move them a bit.  I may have rubbed one or more of the needles on my hands against the hand rest.  This was the only time I really felt a bit of pain and that there were pins all over me.

I am a skeptic when it comes to seeing non-MD types for health and medical reasons.  I admit, back and neck massages have been quite helpful.  I also plan to see a chiropractor to see if it will help my back condition.  The first acupuncture session was uneventful.  I really did not notice any significant improvement immediately after.  I spent Saturday, a day after the first session, with a brisk morning walk, some house cleaning during the day, and hosting a small family get together to watch the Apple Cup football game.  From 6AM thru 10PM, I was on my feet most of the time.  I felt some back discomfort twice during the day, but it was mild.  I am not sure if the temporary relief was due to the first acupuncture session.  I will keep an open mind.  I have a second session of acupuncture this coming Tuesday.


  1. didn't you tell me that you thought chiropractors were voodoo? and you're going to an acupuncturist? is she some kind of hoodoo guru?

  2. Yep, you're right. Having some background in science and my engineering schooling being founded in concrete and "explainable" ideas, I am usually a skeptic of non-scientific things. When an MD says that there is nothing wrong but you know that there is something wrong (or at least, something abnormal), you try other means to correct it. I am in that mode right now.

    Actually, my back has been holding up well for the last 3 weeks. I will see the acupuncturist a few more times, and then possibly move on to a chiropractor.

  3. If you go to an herbalist, he will give you herbs. If you go to an MD, he will give you drugs. If you go to a surgeon, he will operate. If you go to a chiropractor, he will manipulate your spine. If you go to an acupuncturist, he will stick needles in you... and so it goes.

    Just remember that you cannot expect anybody to care about you as much as you do. Don't listen to or follow them blindly. Someone who graduates from medical school with a "C" average is called Doctor too. An uncredentialed person with years of construction experience may know a better way than the engineer.