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October 24, 2016

Pins and Needles

Our editor became a literal pin cushion.

Just walking into the Manning Wellness Clinic was a big step for me. Typically, if I know a needle is going to be involved in any sort of activity (keep the snarky comments to yourselves, folks), I strategically avoid it. But earlier this week, I was a somewhat willing participant.

You see, my arm had been hurting. Horribly. And when Western medicine couldn’t come up with a solution, I decided to give acupuncture a try. Yes, that means needles.

A sign in the Manning Wellness Clinic waiting room questioned “did I have texter’s neck?”—aka a nasty hunch from looking at my phone—and I reevaluated my posture in response. Arm pain and a hunch? “I’m going to be a regular here,” I thought to myself in an attempt at distraction.

When Laura Yoo called my name in the waiting room, I took a deep breath and followed her back. The simple treatment area had a massage bed and an acupuncture model. We quickly got business, discussing my arm pain and general issue with headaches.

Next, we went through some steps much like a doctors appointment (of course, my blood pressure was high thanks to the impending use of needles). I stripped down face down on the table. According to Laura, I had said the magic words “neck pain,” which meant we’d be starting out with a cupping massage. (One of my favorite treatments to date, for those who haven’t read the story.) It helps release tension a la a massage, minus all the relaxation.

Next, I flipped over on my back. Laura swabbed areas on my face, hands, and feet with rubbing alcohol, and I knew what was coming next—the needles.

Starting with my face, she inserted four pins—in my scalp where a high pony tail would be, in the middle of my brows, and at the diagonal points of my nostrils. These were points on my meridian networks that, with specialized applied pressure, were thought to heal my woes.

Each needle placement started with a light prick (oh, that’s not so bad!), then a deeper puncture once Laura had everything situated correctly. Generally, it was tolerable—I didn’t enjoy it, but I wasn’t having my typical reaction to the needles (giant crocodile tears).

Laura moved down to placing needles in my hands, then below my left knee knee (in a spot called “3 Miles More”), and finally in my feet. It was when she placed the needle in the arch of my foot that I finally had an extreme reaction—uttering my favorite explicative.

Thirteen pricks later, Laura had inserted all of the needles in place. “Now what?” I asked—and learned I’d be spending 20 minutes with the pricks in place. Opening my eyes meant I could actually see the needles placed in my nose through my peripheral vision. Okay, nope, eyes back closed. And then it was nap time.

Twenty minutes later, Laura gently woke me up to let me know she was going to start removing the needles. “What needles?” my sleepy brain thought, until she plucked the first one out. It was equally as uncomfortable, but still tolerable.

Once all my meridians were free, the session was over. And while I’m not quite certain I’m a convert, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The arm pain is still there, though it’s dulled slightly.

So could I ever really get excited about having needles stuck in me? Absolutely not. But maybe after a glass of wine or two, I’d give it a try again.

The Details: 2702 McKinney Avenue, #202. Website here.