Time Enough to be a Pin Cushion: Toms’ Acupuncture Adventures

| July 12, 2010 | 0 Comments | 199 views

My Head, my Neck, and I have been having a heated argument for several years now. You see my neck seems to think that it is supposed to be a pain in the neck and my head has its own ideas and decides that it should ache. The three of us go round and round until one of us wins, quite often the two of them gang up on me and double punch me until I double over and give up.

Since those two have been teaming up against me for years I have been trying to team up with others to try and get a hand up on them. So far teaming up with my doctor and chiropractor has had mixed results so I decided to tap someone using Eastern Medicine to try and get a handle on these guys. So, what did I decide to do? I visited an acupuncturist, that’s right; I decided to become a pin cushion.

I should state up front that I am a skeptic on this, so is my insurance company. Since my insurance company will not cover the visits I needed to keep my costs as low as possible, so I did a Google search for acupuncture schools and found that there is one here in Portland (Isn’t Google Great!), The Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, OCOM for short. This helped to keep the expense down to a manageable level and allows me to be a guinea pig as well (Is a guinea pig with pins stuck in it a Porkenguinea?)

I approached my first visit with a little trepidation and avoided the desire to cancel the appointment. When I arrived at the school I checked in and waited for my Inquisitor in Training to come retrieve their next victim. My Inquisitor in Training turned out to be code named Colleen (Good Inquisitors never give out their real names) and she led me to her private little chamber to invoke her skills.

My Inquisitor then proceeded to interrogate me to obtain all forms of information from me; I decided that I wanted the process to go as easily as possible so I fessed up to everything that I could. This befuddled her some because she had so much data to review that hopefully she would forget her task at hand. Unfortunately that was not the case and she eventually came up with a torture plan and left the room to get it approved by the Master Inquisitor. Shortly she returned with the Master Inquisitor and he reviewed her notes, poked and prodded me, felt my pulse to insure that they would not kill me until they got everything they wanted and approved her plan.

Now I should step in here and state that while I have been going about this with a tongue in cheek I wanted to clarify that in reality this first visit went very well. Colleen is a wonderful woman who listened to my problems and used what she has been learning to come up with a plan to address my issues. She listened to what I had to say, asked leading questions to obtain additional information, and got a reasonably clear picture of what I needed. So, while I am describing this with a flare that most people would relate to I want it clear that the people at OCOM were very professional and take the vocation they are training for seriously. On with my story...

So, My Inquisitor in Training had gotten the go ahead and demanded that I assume the position on the rack. I didn’t want to make things worse so I did as instructed and laid down on the bench in question. She then proceeded to poke and prod me finding all of my tender spots. As soon as she identified the points she wanted to attack she proceeded to pull her torture devices out of the cabinets and prepare for her task. I anticipated a certain amount of pain and lay there waiting for it to happen. First she stuck a needle in my hand, nothing. Then a needle in the other hand, nothing again.

What! Did I get an inept Inquisitor; did she not know that she was to be inflicting pain on me? She continues to place needles in my body and the pain I received was minimal at most. Then the Master Inquisitor came back into the room, he was checking on her work, boy would she get it, not performing as expected. I would lay odds that she would be placed on the rack now for not performing her duties.

The Master Inquisitor inspected her work and proceeded to point out where she could improve. "Here it goes," I thought, "the real pain." He adjusted several needles, with each I expected to feel some pain. But alas, that was not to be. With each needle placed or adjusted I could feel changes in the muscles of my shoulder and neck. After they finished adjusting the needles they had me remain on the bench for several minutes to allow the needles to do their jobs. They then returned and removed the needles and demanded that I return weekly.

During the weeks that followed the Inquisitors continued to poke and prod me looking for my tender points and each week they failed until a second Inquisitor in Training succeeded in finding the right point. This student should do well, as when she found the nerve she succeeded in sending me into the air.

Little did I know that the proper point would be in my heel? As she drove the needle in I felt it hit a nerve and knew she meant business. I flew into the air as a shock of electricity went through my body. Like a cat that had just been frightened by a dog the hair on the back of my neck stood straight out and my claws went out. I felt like I was hanging from the ceiling and my Inquisitors were below me chuckling with a low rumble and rubbing their hands together. They had succeeded.

In reality this little episode could have had other results. Since I had already seen the interns for several weeks I knew that this result was not normal. If this had happened on my first visit I would have to admit that I would not return. However since this happened after several visits I knew the truth and was able to shake it off. While it was a shock to my system and resulted in an amount of pain that was not normal and I am sure I startled at least a few people in the waiting room I was able to keep a reasonable sense of humor about the whole thing. I joked with the intern and her instructor about scaring people in the waiting room and we were all apologizing to each other, them to me for what happened and me to them for my reaction.

I have been visiting Colleen and Kathleen at OCOM for six weeks now; they each have their own techniques and address things in their own way. They are both competent and I am sure that when they graduate they will be skillful in their field.

The question is, "Does it work?" I would have to say that yes, I think it does work. I have felt some changes in how my body reacts and I have to admit that there have been positive results from the treatments. I have gone for six weeks without a major episode with my neck and head (minimal neck pain and no migraine) and it is possible that I may be in the process of winning this fight.

About OCOM: The Oregon School of Oriental Medicine has more than 20 years of experience teaching, guiding and advancing wellness in the Portland area. They teach students modern-day applications of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines. They have a clinic that offers affordable health care utilizing acupuncture, herbal medicine and massage for their patients. OCOM is located in Portland, Oregon at 10525 SE Cherry Blossom Drive and can be reached at 503.253.3443 (extension 250 for appointments.) Website - http://www.ocom.org

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