My right shoulder hurts. I’ve been doing stretching exercises and saw a physical therapist when I was in Salt Lake City for the holidays. But today I tried something new: acupuncture.
An on-line search for acupuncture in Tucson lead me to Tucson Community Acupuncture. You set your own price, the 8 online reviews were all positive and ... my shoulder (actually my entire right arm) really hurts.
When I got to the clinic, I filled out paperwork and the receptionist asked me what I wanted to pay. I said $20; lower than my insurance co pay (if this were covered by insurance, which it's not) but more than their lowest suggested payment. Then the accupuncturist -- a young man named Josh who reminds me of my son (lanky, cute, fashionably messy hair) talked to me about my shoulder, suggested I try 4-6 sessions, and took me into the treatment room -- a 20 by 60 space with 12 Lazy-boy-like loungers at the edges, pale green and purple walls, dim lights, and soft, new age-y music.
One of the reasons TCA can offer acupuncture so inexpensively is that it really is “community” acupuncture. That is, all treatments are given in a group setting. While I picked out my Lazy Boy, I looked around and saw 6 other people already seated. Most looked my age or older, including a guy in a “wife beater” and two totally tattooed arms. But with the exception of wife beater/tattoo guy, most looked pretty much like me.
I’d imagined myself with something like knitting needles sticking in my shoulder, but the needles were very slim and about two inches long. Josh stuck 5 on the back of my left hand. The rest went in my ankles, knees, right hand ... and two in the top of my head.
After several minutes, I remembered something about myself: I figet. At a movie, for example, I watch Jim just sit. Meanwhile, I cross one leg and then the other. I fiddle with my wedding ring. I take off my watch and put it back on. I push my hair out of my eyes. I scratch my nose. Can I do all that with pins in? Crossing my legs is out of the question with pins in my knees. So I make a fist, and a pain shoots through my hand. After that, I sit very, very quietly. For 40 minutes. Until both my arms --- not just my right one -- seem numb.
Josh pulls out the pins and I make another appointment for Thursday. And tonight my arm actually seems better. We’ll see.