Pin This; or, Adventures in Acupuncture

(photo stolen from the internet somewhere)

(photo stolen from the internet somewhere)

Oh, hello! Happy Friday. It sure has been a while, hasn't it? What have you been up to? Have you had any exciting/unnerving/deeply awkward new experiences recently?? I sure have and you BET I'm about to tell you allll about it. 

As you may or may not know, depending on what country you hail from (I don't know your life), this past Monday was Labor Day, which which means three day weekend!  I used this extra day off to finally try something I've been meaning to try for years: acupuncture. Every time I mention one of my myriad ailments, which is always, because I love whining and oversharing, someone will suggest acupuncture. Apparently it is just the cure-all for everything: IBS, bum hips, anxiety, sinus shit. You name it, they can poke it outta ya. Brian is a huge fan and encouraged me to give his practice a go, so I picked an ailment (bum hip!) made an appointment and whoop, there it was. 

The clinic is in a brownstone building a few blocks away from me (have I mentioned that I live in a fancy part of Brooklyn and am a very cool person? Just dropping that B-stone hint for ya in case you forgot), so I sauntered on up and kicked things off to a roaring start when I could not find the entrance. I kept walking up and down the steps and shaking the doorknob and looking all around and finally asked a kindly stranger who exited the building if she could tell me what floor the acupuncture clinic was on and she just kind of rolled her eyes and pointed down. Apparently the clinic was in the basement. WHO KNEW! Listen, Park Slope Wellness, you gotta be real clear about this stuff on your Yelp page unless you want a bunch of bum hip randos wandering the neighborhood breaking into apartment buildings. 

When I finally entered the clinic it was EXACTLY what I expected it to be. There was a little cubby by the door where everyone has to take their shoes off before entering and the waiting room was very calm and zen with tinkly waterfall music playing in the background and the receptionist was wearing like 14 layers of knit prairie skirts and offered me herbal tea. They advise you to get there 30 minutes before your first appointment to fill out paperwork. It seemed like overkill at first, but as the second I got the paperwork in my hands, I honestly thought they might be underselling it. This thing was the most intricately, intimately detailed questionnaire I have ever seen in my life, listing every single ailment you or anyone in your extended family may ever have experienced, from regular stuff like heart conditions allll the way to the consistency and color of your menstrual blood.

The color? You mean red? OH MY GOD what other colors could it be??? I do not mean to dismiss the ancient and beautiful science of acupuncture but I feel like if your period is turquoise or something you should probably not be sitting calmly in a zen waiting room, sipping nettle tea and answering questionnaires, but instead be rushing immediately to the nearest emergency room. 

Buttt that's just me. 

After finishing the most epic Buzzfeed quiz of all time ("which one of these lattes most accurately represents the texture of your nasal mucous") I was led back to an exam room where my acupuncturist walked me through what was about to go down. We sat for a long while and went page by page through my questionnaire which was possibly my favorite part of the whole thing, which I think says a lot about me. I just LOVE talking about gross bodily stuff and instead of being like "ew, women don't poop" she literally asked me "how are your stools?" and I was like FINALLY! Someone wants to hear about my stools! And she was so sensitive and nurturing and I got the feeling she wasn't just asking me because it was her job, she really did care about my stools. 

Bless.

Then I stripped to my skivvies and laid face down on one of those massage tables with the face hole at the top and she covered me with a paper sheet and started putting the little pins all over me. The focus for the appointment was to alleviate my recurring hip/butt pain as well as some shoulder tension that has been lingering since I threw off my entire upper body attempting some burpees at an ill advised boot camp workout class, and she said she'd throw in a few extras "for stress." 

OH DO I SEEM STRESSED TO YOU?????

She talked me through the whole thing and it's really fascinating how the body all works together. A pin in the foot to open up the side of the body, somehow related to the gallbladder. Pins in the hands to open up the heart center. Truly incredible! All told I think I had about 20 little needles in me, a few of the pins hurt a bit but nowhere like getting blood drawn or a shot. It mostly just felt a little funny, I was cognizant that something was happening to my body but otherwise barely noticed them. I was trying really hard not to try too hard to relax, which was mostly worked and I managed to achieve a state of semi-calm which is pretty much as good as it gets in my world. She covered me all the way to my neck with the sheet and left me alone in the room. I was warm and cozy and doing a-ok! 

It didn't last long. I knew the appointment I signed up for was something called "Community Acupuncture" which I thought just meant discounts for people who live in the community. Apparently it meant that you were in a room getting 'puncthed with up to two other people. VERY RELAXING. I mean, I should have realized when I got to the room and saw three beds divided by hospital curtains, but I just thought it was for couples massages or something. Throuple massages, even. This is Brooklyn, we're progressive! 

I had just reached peak calm when my poke-woman (get it? Because she poked me with needles? And Pokemon is a cultural reference??) came back into the room with another patient and got her all set up on the bed next to me.

Who dis bitch? This is my pin room!

I tried to just zone out and ignore them, but of course I had to eavesdrop because I am a creep. Sadly everything they said was boring and I learned nothing exciting about anyone's stools. Then five minutes later she brought in another chick! Suddenly it was like, the Phi Beta Kappa sorority house of acupuncture, just ladies everywhere. And then she abandoned us all to lay there and pretend we're not stressed about the whole situation. It was at this moment that two things happen concurrently: my phone buzzed in my purse, leading me to panic about my poor behavior not putting it on silent, thus ruining other folks zen experiences and my nose began to itch, madly. I wanted to scratch it but I couldn't move my arms, because I had pins all up and down my shoulders so I tried gently blowing on it, which did nothing and it was in that moment, laying there there pinned like a dead moth in a frame, puffing breath up my own nostrils, that I came to the sad realization that I maaaaaaay not be an acupuncture person.

Sigh. 

Finally after 700 hours later (probably 10 minutes) the acupuncturist came back into the room and unpoked me and I hovered behind my little curtain and quickly dressed, lest I accidentally destroy another patient's holistic experience by accidentally exposing them to my unkempt bikini area, and scurried out of the room. 

I felt like I was back in a safe womb when I returned to the waiting lounge. The receptionist gave me cool water and talked to me in her calming, whispery, hippie-lady voice and I handed over my credit card, which is a social transaction I know all too well how to handle and was really starting to feel like maybe this wasn't so bad after all when I saw it. There, perched in a little box on the edge of the counter, was a stack of those tiny envelopes you see at salons, the ones you fill with cash to tip your stylist.

What fresh hell is this?? Are you supposed to tip your acupuncturist?! I mean, I think of them as medical practitioners and I wouldn't tip my dentist so I feel like no. But also it's Eastern medicine and I guessss I would tip a masseuse (I mean, if I was the kind of chill person who could handle massages) which is another service offered by the practice, so where is the line drawn?  It's all very complex. I didn't have any cash on me so I didn't tip. I just tried to look the receptionist in the eye very kindly and avoid drawing any attention towards the envelopes so maybe no one would notice. If I can't see it, it can't see me! But that put me all back in a tizzy, what if you ARE supposed to tip and now they know I didn't and next time I go back the kind and sensitive lady acupuncturist reveals her inner fury and needles me in the eyeball or something? 

I know you're thinking "next time? It seems like you hated the first time" but like, now I need some acupuncture to get over the stress caused by acupuncture and it's just a whole vicious cycle. There's no stopping now!

Also I just really like talking about my stools in a safe and comfortable environment so, yeah. Maybe I am an acupuncture gal after all. 

And that is what I have been up to. Also a good example of how you can get an old dog some new alternative medical treatments, but she will still be the same neurotic pup.

Or however that old phrase goes.

Happy Friday, buds. Don't try anything new, it's a trap!