Thursday, July 24, 2008
When I go more than two weeks or so without Dr. Jin and her needles and Chinese herbs, I can really feel it. I feel it in my bones, I feel it in my sleep, I feel it when I snap at my husband and the kids. I feel it when I watch Sophie have seizures. What I feel is bad, really bad. So, I went back to Dr. Jin today for acupuncture, a tune-up, something or anything to make me feel better. When I got there she took my pulse and looked at my tongue. She asked me how I was and when I said, "irritable," she told me that I had too much heat. Or was it spleen? In any case, I lay down on the table and while we talked about her ancient parents in China and various other things, she pushed down on spots all over my head right before sticking the needles in.
"Hurt?" she said, while pressing so hard on my scalp I winced.
"Hurt here," she answered for me, and the needle went in.
This went on for a few minutes before she moved to my legs and then arms. I hate needles in my arms and hands. It hurts in a numbing, buzzing way, initially shooting through my body. I tensed up right before she pushed on the spots and yelped when the needles went in.
"OOO, sorry," she said, "take out?" For some reason, I don't tell her to take them out because there's an implication that if it hurts it's good for you. Something about that channel being stuck and opening. If it's all about stress and releasing it, letting it go, curing it, I'm for it. So I wince and deal with it. Eventually, the buzzing stops, and if I remain perfectly still it stops hurting all together. Sometimes, like today, I feel the prick of tears and it seems like they're coming from my brain and resting in my throat.
When she's done putting the needles in, Dr. Jin always asks me whether I want music. I do want music, the faint, calm tonal music that reminds me of waitressing in a Chinese restaurant during college. Dr. Jin turns the tape on and slides a buzzer under my hand in case I need her. Then she slips out the door saying, "I come back. Relax." And that's what I do for the next twenty minutes. I relax. I think about the needles and I listen to the music. I remind myself of the Chinese restaurant and the waiter who was in love with me. Although Chinese, his name was Jackson, and one day he came to work with permed hair. He said to me, "For your eyes only," and when I told him that his hair looked nice, he said, "you have eyes like James Bond girl. For your eyes only." I always remember this when I lie on the table in Dr. Jin's office and listen to the music. It makes me feel peaceful, like I don't have any problems. Sometimes I drift off to sleep and only wake when the tape clicks off and Dr. Jin quietly opens the door and comes inside. She takes out the needles and we chat quietly, comfortable with each other.
I sit back down on the little couch and write her a check. She hands me a plastic grocery bag full of little apples from one of her trees. I bend my face to them and inhale. The smell is flowery, as much like an apple as one could imagine. We hug each other and say good-bye.