Punchy Punchy

Jet Lag, Motion Sickness, Stiff Muscles, Skin Numbness, what do they have in common?

I got them all treated with acupuncture, and it’s continually impressive how a variety of symptoms have been alleviated with the foray into this branch of Eastern Medicine.

My first ever experience was a right back muscle running parallel with my spine that had turned into stone last winter. I had tried rolling a tennis ball between the back muscle and the wall, crushing the muscle with as much pressure I could apply without falling into tears. I’ve considered a masseuse yet would read suggestions of acupuncture being effective for deeper muscles, my journey started with the Tri-State College of Acupuncture Student Clinic.

With student sessions offered at $30 with promised supervision of Professors and actively practicing Mentors, I had nothing to else to loose. Located in the 4th floor of a building in the Chelsea neighborhood, it’s a mixture of classrooms and patient area. I was let into a curtained off massage table where I could hear the other consultations with the other patients and eavesdropped on severe cases of migraines, muscle spasms, chronic back pain – I’ve decided I was in the right place.

I was introduced to two senior students and their supervising Mentor as I detailed my medical history and complaint of my right back noticeable by its swelling. Requested to lie down on my stomach I was fearful of the needling process. I focused really hard on trying to keep my breaths long and even as the tiny pricks entered my consciousness. The students searched by feel of their hands for the needle location so it didn’t catch you by surprise, and then swiftly entered the smaller than a millimeter sterile needle. Needling was completed faster than I expected as they inquired if I wanted a blanket. I get chilly easily so said yes, but wondered how would they cover me in a heavy blanket with needles in me? Out comes a marathon runners solar blanket thinner than foil and hover it over my body to retain my body heat. They instructed me that they will let me ‘bake’ to let the needling do their work and promised to check-in on me. I barely noticed when they returned to check-in for I was drowsy, warm and lost in dreamland unaware of my surroundings. They returned to wake me and lifted the blanket impressed at the amount of heat I exuded from the process. Needles were carefully removed and counted. How did I feel? Lighter, without awareness of any soreness in my back with decreased swelling. I was surprised and pleased with the results.

To continue, I signed up for their Student Orientation session and their Grand Rounds class. Student Orientation educated me on the philosophy of the physiology behind acupuncture where the entire human body is one connected unit and how it strives to attain balance between all parts to be healthy. I further attended to observe their Grand Rounds where a volunteer patient registers to be treated by a practicing Professor known for their aptitude in their profession -in front of the advanced students. I got to see with my own two eyes limited mobility and rotation of limbs opened up to a significantly wider range of motion. It was a very potent observation to acknowledge that such effective treatments were available. Granted any chronic and persistent cases need continuous follow-up, seeing apparent changes in muscle related changes was truly inspirational.

I went back to Tri-State College for other random muscle stiffness case and got it resolved. Though the scheduling difficulty with their limited Student sessions, and the commute eventually made me look into alternative locations. Then from a coworker’s recommendation, I was made aware of a location in Greenpoint called Worksong Chinese Medicine – Community Acupuncture. I tucked that into my brain and forgot about it for a while.

During the summer I attended a yoga in the park session. It was a hot sunny day encouraging the muscles to stretch out even further. In one specific pose called ‘pidgeon’ where you fold one leg – cross-legged style in front of you, and the other straight behind you, I stood up straight from having my left leg crossed in front of me. My left leg buckled and I nearly fell over. I was soon after able to regain control of my leg and stand back up, but the experience was unexpected and mildly distressing. The next day I wake up to realize my left shin and calf surfaces are numb! I seem to have cut off my nervous system to my left leg.

Immediately booked and appointment with Worksong, and showed up to their location two days later as my symptoms still persisted. I was greeted and consulted with Amber as she asked questions about my case. Took my pulse to get a better understanding of me. She directed me to the two rooms behind the front consult area and allowed me to choose my location/seat and take my shoes off. It was summer so I was wearing a skirt and a T-shirt as she needled me in the wrists, top shin of my left leg and ankles. I said yes to her inquiry for a blanket and got to ‘bake’ for a good long while as I lost track of time under the heat of the runners blanket.

She inquired about my experience and how I felt afterwards and highly recommended a second session to make sure my case is thoroughly attended to. I had fascinating an out of body experience where I was a third person being aware of my right leg being unusually heavy and my left leg non-existent in my consciousness as I scheduled a follow-up on the third day from the first session.

The morning after my first acupuncture session I had regained feeling back on my left shin! The remaining numbness was now a small patch on the outside edge of my calf. My second session with Amber we concentrated on my remaining numb patch. From the day I had my left leg go numb, and within a week with two sessions, I had completely regained all my surface senses after cutting communication off by pinching in pigeon pose.

Fast forwarding to my return to the States after Singapore. I find myself suffering from jet lag heavier that I remember from my travels. Not being able to re-configure my sleep cycle even after a week of desperately trying to wake up in the morning, nauseous in the afternoon, staying awake until midnight to exhaust myself, and still waking up like a light bulb at 2 or 3 in the morning. I also found myself severely sensitive to the motion on the train! I had never experienced motion sickness from a train ride, and where historically am sensitive to the passenger seat of a car – the one time I got a ride home on the passenger seat, it was noticeably nauseating than I would remember it to be.

Back at Worksong, this time I find myself under the care of Isobeau the founder. Going through all my symptoms and anything I could think of that was unusual or unexpected, my needling started with my ears. I wondered what I must look like with needles sticking out of my ears, as I got one in my right big toe. I felt the big toe needle going in, but Isobeau knew with assuring me that it’s a tough spot because it’s at the end of the meridian and has a big-job to do. The remaining needles were in my left ankle, right shin, and both wrists. I ‘bake’ under the runners blanket making sure I focused on my breathing that allowing myself to worry about walking home in the winter cold.

It was hard to assess anything immediately after my session, but she sent me home with mini bandages with mustard seeds taped to the inside ridges of my ears. Called ear seeds they’re placed at a pressure point to continue the conversation inside my body to adjust itself.

 ear seeds - tiny quarter of an inch bandages with mustard seeds.

ear seeds - tiny quarter of an inch bandages with mustard seeds.

I didn’t ride in a train or a car for a couple of days after my acupuncture session, but by the time I did sit in a car the third day after, I did not get nauseous. And it did get easier to get a full nights rest without struggling to get out of bed in the morning – besides my unwillingness to wake up.

If it wasn’t for the Community acupuncture ideal of making healing affordable and working on a honor system of sliding scale pay-what-you-wish from $20-50, I may have not been able to get these issues resolved. I feel that Western medicine may not have been as effective or as apparently noticeable in its results if I got prescribed pills of unknown chemistry by a physician. There are many things I give credit for Western medicine for allowing me to stay healthy through detailed diagnostics, and necessary prescriptions when required. Now that I had the opportunity to understand what wide range of symptoms Acupuncture can alleviate, and how it addresses how to channel your body to communicate as one unit – I am convinced of its benefits.

Balancing Eastern and Western medicine, I hope this year will be a healthy one, and wish good health to all.