Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Adventures in acupuncture

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.


  1. First, I want to share with you one of my New Year’s Resolutions. And, this is one that I actually elected myself, contrasting to those imposed upon me by Sandra, which carry with them the threat of unimaginable reckoning should I fail them. This self-directed resolution is that I will keep my comments to your postings short, that I will keep them, in some way related to what you wrote about, and lastly that if I resort to humor, in lieu of meaningful, intelligent and thoughtful input, it will be of a self-deprecating nature, thus poking fun only at myself and thereby protecting our friendship of forty years by not writing something that you may find offensive. So there it is! Short, to the point, and self-deprecating; this is my first attempt at it, and in reviewing the the comment below I believe that I have achieved this goal, and admirably so.

    Regarding acupuncture: Are you NUTS? Have you ever heard of hepatitis C? Now let me get this straight. You have a brother of above average intelligence who spent ten years getting a college education and medical certifications from some of the most respected medical institutions in the nation, he has practiced medicine for over three decades and he is recognized among his peers as an outstanding physician. On the other hand you’ve got this guy Josh whose only accreditation seems to be a certificate of perfect attendance from Jimmy Hendrix middle school and a talent for the body arts (tattoos and piercings). So now you have a pain in your shoulder, and who do you go to? You go to Josh. Jeez Louise, Bev, what does this say about you? What does this say about Don? Now call me crazy, but sticking a couple of pins in your head, just doesn’t seem like it's going to fix anything in your shoulder, except take your mind off your shoulder. And I pressume the needles in your knees where there to make you forget that you had needles in your head. Bev, certainly there was a bar in this nieghborhood dispensing pain relief from the tap! Honestly, I think you need to picture yourself sitting there with pins sticking out of everywhere and ask yourself, “now if Albert Einstein walked in at this moment, what would he say." I’ll tell you what he’d say! He’d say: “Are you NUTS?” Besides this, don’t you have another brother? Could not Bob (and this is completely off the record) send you some kind of horse pill that would take care of any pain you’ve ever had, and also the aches and pains of anyone standing within twenty-five yards of you at the time of ingestion. Bev what you need is drugs, alcohol and two aspirin. That’s the way God meant for us to heal thyselves.

  2. I’m thinking drugs, alcohol and a couple of asprins haven't done much for you. And did you just compare yourself to Albert Einstein...are you nuts? (OK, I laughed.)