I started acupuncture to treat pain and got the surprise of my life. But first the back story.
The cast came off this week! I'm still wearing a removable wrist brace, but I'm on the mend and can actually wash my face with two hands. My personal grooming suffered as a result of my injury, so I've been busy getting back to "beauty base zero." That's Hunger Games talk for what you'd look like fresh out of bed only clean and flawless. I'm a long way from flawless, but I've made some headway on the nails, skin and eyebrows.
I broke my wrist cycling, which I took up because I because my knees are still messed up from a sports injury I incurred two years ago. I've been to three orthopedic surgeons and have had x-rays and an MRI. The first doctor said I was fine. The second doctor said I was a middle-aged woman, get used to it. For the record, I hate him. The third doctor said it is patellar tendonitis, which is tough to get rid of, and he suggested cycling. Riding the bike helped a lot, but I still can't walk a mile without pain. And, of course, now I can't ride.
The reason I went to an acupuncturist was to see if it would help get my knees back on track. I've had three treatments. She believes it will take five. It's $80 per visit. I do see and feel some improvement, but it's really too early to tell. I'm hanging in there, because I don't have many other options. I mentioned the knee to the fourth ortho guy I've seen -- the one who treated my wrist -- and he said it felt fine to him. I'm like, well, it doesn't feel fine to me. He agreed to refer me to physical therapy for the wrist and the knee. I'll do both the acupuncture and the physical therapy -- I think they call that complementary treatment. A little alternative, a little traditional. Maybe something will click.
The acupuncture experience is actually quite pleasant. The needles are very fine, and they only prick the skin. It doesn't hurt. You lay there on a nice bed in a beautifully appointed room listening to new age music. I asked if I could swing by sometimes just for naps. All the people who worked there looked really happy, and I considered applying for a job. Maybe I could write their brochures.
Here's the best part. She's getting my knees all needled up and asking me if I have any plans for Easter. I said something close to this: "Easter? Like I'm thinking about Easter? I have a cast on my arm, my knees have been screwed up for two years, I can't do much of anything but sit, I have a lot of work to do, I'm typing as fast as I can with one finger and it's not enough. I am not a happy camper!"
Just then I felt a needle in my forehead and then in each of my ears. I said, "What's that? My lobotomy?" She just laughed.
When the treatment was over, I got in my car and drove to work. About half-way there, I noticed a smile breaking out on my face, and then I couldn't stop smiling. I felt really happy and calm and ready to face whatever came my way. Almost euphoric. I had a great day at work, I was nice to my husband when I got home and was only sorry that I had handled this injury so poorly.
The fog had lifted. And more than a week later, it has not come back. I'm not trying to convince anyone they need acupuncture, but holy cow, this was dramatic for me. My gloom was situationally based, because I was so utterly pissed and sorry for myself about the broken wrist, but I wonder about people who are clinically depressed or experiencing long-term chronic pain. Would it help? Wouldn't it be better than anti-depressants?
I've always been somewhat cynical about things I don't understand, but as I get older, I find myself more daring and willing to step into the unknown. Now I wonder about all the other things I've missed because I was too comfortable with status quo. It may turn out that acupuncture has only a minimal impact on my knees or it may turn out to be the thing that works. But based on the experience of walking into the clinic angry and walking out happy, I am willing to take the chance.