Adventures in Acupuncture

Here is something you might not know about me. On occasion I get migraines. Not too often and certainly not as bad as some people i have known. I don’t think I have ever had more than two or three in one month. Usually it is closer to once a month or even two months. Seldom enough so that I don’t need to really worry about it happening out of nowhere but common enough so I recognize it. Also, generally speaking they cause me to feel queasy and vomit. I’ve been getting them for about nine years now and I had one last Thursday and it wan’t that bad a one, but it did screw up my day.

I’ve mentioned this to a few doctors (all here in Japan) and the only thing they have offered me is that if I make a special appointment then maybe I can get some super charged tylenol or something that I can take when I feel one coming on and maybe it might do something. I haven’t gotten around to following up on that.

My wife, a registered nurse, is also not one for taking medicines unless absolutely necessary. This doesn’t really extend to kanpoyaku or Chinese medicine if you prefer. Now, I don’t know much about this. Just the name makes me feel I should be skeptical. But as I said, the Mrs. trusts it and has a place nearby that she trusts and so rather than visiting a doctor she convinced me to go to the little clinic and get checked out there.

I’ve been to the place in the past with her. When she was pregnant she got some medicine, although it doesn’t seem to be referred to as medicine in Japanese, from the place. There is a good chance that whatever you picture in your head as a store for Chinese Medicine does not reflect the reality of the situation. Or maybe that was just me. I don’t want to go into detail as to what I expected (think the mystical shop I half remember from the beginning of Gremlins) but in reality it looks like what you would imagine as a small, old fashioned neighborhood pharmacy.

We filled out a form that was at least as thorough as anything I have done for a doctor’s appointment and then spent another forty minutes talking with the… I don’t know what to call her. Herbalist? Chemist? Anyone, I answered a lot of questions about how I have been feeling and my history of migraines. She looked at my tongue, took my blood pressure, examined my hands and arms and made her recommendation of medicines and wondered if I would be interested in acupuncture.

The truth is I have had a interest. I have heard good things about the results and also that it could serve as preventative. And even though I don’t get the migraines very often I would much rather not get them and if acupuncture even has I chance of working I was willing to give it a try. Plus, it fit perfectly into our schedule of that day. So, I signed up.

Upstairs from the pharmacy area, there is another little clinic with an acupuncturist who also does massage. She asked some of the same questions as the chemist. Also, she seemed really concerned that I would not be able to go through with it. But I was ready.

A little note about the needles. They are very thin. Think about a thick hair on a solid base. That is your needle. They come in plastic packs the same as standard hospital needles. Very sanitary. Also, the needles come in little plastic sheathes. The sheath and needle are placed over the injection point (I’m guessing this has to do with pressure points and what not, but can’t pretend to say for sure.) The acupuncturist taps the needle lightly into the skin and then adjusts by hand.

I had eight or ten needles inserted. Some along the base of my neck and along the back of my shoulders and along my spine. They were inserted in mirror pairs so each needle had a partner. And it didn’t hurt. Or was it? So the actual needle didn’t hurt. It is so thin I barely felt it. But where it was placed started radiating. I can only really think of describing it by referring to some kind of bug bite. But bug bites are painful and this both was and wasn’t. It was like when getting a massage and someone hits an area that hurts but you know is actually having a positive effect. Yeah, thats it.

In the end, I’m really glad I did it and I will be doing some more. Basically this is the start of a treatment. And the treatment will be ongoing. The only major drawback is that it draws a fine line on how I need to be in better shape. Because I got this done three days ago and I still feel tired from the experience. The whole thing took less than an hour and it wore me out. I’m still feeling it. And if some one told me that ten little needles could have such a profound result then I don’t think I would believe them. But, wow. It did.

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