spiky orchidYesterday I paid good money to have a man I don’t know pinch my right earlobe.

Really. But it’s not as weird as it sounds.

Ok, it’s kind of weird. But: the guy was my new acupuncturist, who I am seeing because of ongoing tendinitis problems with my right arm. I have tried physical therapy, various stretches, exercises and ice packs. I have tried anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxers and Advil. I’ve tried rest. I’ve gotten a new chair for my home office, and a new keyboard tray for a better ergonomic set-up. But my arm has been bothering me still. And that means I have trouble writing — typing is painful. So my doctor recommended acupuncture. I figured, why not?

The reason my new acupuncturist was pinching my right ear had to do with reflexology, he said, and impacting the nerves that go into my arm and hand.

“Instead of in the foot, this reflexology is in the ear,” he said.

I said: “Oh, I see.” But I didn’t, really. It kind of hurt, having my earlobe squeezed.

Anyway, after massaging my shoulder and neck (which have been badly knotted since I injured my arm) we got down to needles, and he popped maybe 10 of them into my back and arm. It pricked, then I felt nothing. Except in my arm, where the injury is. Some of those hurt, in an achy, burning sort of way, which I had to tolerate for 10 minutes or so. My acupuncturist attached electric current to some of the needles, which felt like someone was tapping on my arm. He aimed a heatlamp at my upper body, and because there was a sound machine in the room, playing ocean wave noise, I felt a little like I was at the beach. Except that I had a bunch of needles sticking out of me and between those and the electric current, I couldn’t move my arm at all.

It’s true that I’ve had very high expectations for acupuncture. I’ve had to: If it doesn’t work, what else can I do? But when I left my appointment I felt, well, weird. If you think about it, it’s kind of odd to pay someone to pinch your ear and stick needles in your arm for an hour. It’s weird, at least compared to what I’m used to with doctors’ offices, to go to an office and not sign pages of health documents and I-promise-not-to-sue documents. It’s weird to visit an office where there is no receptionist, no nurse, and no magazines.

Still, I was hopeful when I left. My arm felt a little weak, but otherwise, not too sore. There were little red marks where the needles had been, and I’d been warned that I might bruise. My neck and shoulder felt a lot looser. Promising! By evening though, I was starting to feel differently. My arm hurt, my neck hurt, and my back hurt. They ached, in the way that things ache when you have a fever. I felt stiff, and very, very tired.

“I don’t know about this acupuncture stuff,” I said to Billy.

I slept hard and woke up with a stiff neck and arm. But after moving around a bit, I must admit my arm feels … well, better. It feels good, actually. I can type some without it getting too sore. I drove our stick-shift car around this morning, an activity that of late has been guaranteed to aggravate my arm. My arm is weak, but it’s not hurting as much as it has been. Maybe there’s something to earlobe pinching after all.


2 thoughts on “needled

  1. Good, I’m glad it feels better, if only a little!

    [soapbox] Your body gets used to being injured. All those knots and stiffness in your neck are a reaction to the injury. The knots probably started in your shoulder, then migrated to your neck as you favored the arm/shoulder. I’m sure that your entire back is knotted up as a result, but it’s something that you’ve gotten so used to you might not even realize it. Getting all that to relax takes time and a good bit of massage. The weird thing is that getting the massage/acupuncture/other treatment sort of draws your attention to it, which makes it hurt again.

    There’s a reason the alternative therapies are still around – some of them actually work! ;) Now you just have to give it a fair shot and see how it gos over time. [/soapbox]

    My Uncle’s sister is, for lack of a better term, an ‘alternative healer’. I know that sounds a little wacky, but she’s really good at talking about this stuff so that she doesn’t sound like a nutjob (which she is not). I can get her e-mail and/or phone number if you’re interested.

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