Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My Acupuncture Visit - Hello, hello????

For the past five years I've been struggling with vertigo related to Meniere's Disease.  Coupled with constant ringing in one ear, I've become a confused, dizzy mess who says "Huh?" a lot.  I recently had an extreme episode of vertigo (including vomiting due to a motion-sickness effect) while at work.  Parents of patients in the ICU might not feel so confident in their nurse when she is sitting hunched over a pink, plastic basin in the middle of the unit because she can't move anywhere until the spinning subsides a bit.  Just guessing.  So I decided to seek alternate treatments to combat these debilitating attacks.

Our insurance covers a certain number of acupuncture visits per year, so I turned to the list of local providers.  I researched a few and called to make an appointment with one of the best-reviewed people in my area.  I have an appointment for 2 weeks from today - and the assurance that they'll call me if anything opens up in the meantime.  So I called number 2 on my list and got an appointment for two days later.

I went to the doctor's office today, checked in right on time, filled out the paperwork, and proceeded to wait.  Because you know that no matter what you're being seen for in any doctor's office, you must wait.  That's why they've spent big money for a waiting room, complete with mounted flat-screen TV showing Inside Edition. So already, I feel a bit violated.

Forty minutes (40) after my scheduled time, a slight, forward-leaning Asian lady bustled in through the front door... and a few seconds later my name was called.  I was shown to a back room which I swear is mostly used as the filing/storage room.  It was large, with ample space for the typical massage table, but there were also stacks of crates, a mail bin, and an abandoned-looking desk.  She obviously did not have time to read the paperwork I was required to fill out.

- Why you come?
I get vertigo and ringing in my ear, so I wanted to try something new.
- Let me see your tongue.  You stick out. (She demonstrates.  She also reaches to check my pulse)
- Your heart boom boom.  Very strong.
Yes, I have high blood pressure. (Thinking, I wrote that down 3 or 4 times on the questionnaire)
- I know.  I feel, very high.  You sleep well last night?
Yes, sure.  It was fine.
- Really?
Uh, yep. (Now I'm worried my cover-up has failed and I look extremely tired)
- You undress and put on gown.
- Yes, everything.
(Seemed like overkill, so I left my underwear on because I'm a rebel... and also shy and uncomfortable in this back room)

She proceeds to start right in on the needle poking.  No preamble, no description of what she's doing or why, or what I'm supposed to be getting out of it. Just various needles sticking out of my forehead, tip of my nose, around one ear, my shins, wrists... It's not really uncomfortable, just weird.  During this time one or two office workers sneak in to go through to another area, or get more copy paper or something.  I don't know.

- You have headaches?
- Really? No?
Um, nope.
- How your lobac?
- Your lobac? Lobac! (She pokes me on my side)
Oh!  My lower back is fine.
- Really? Hmm. You want live long life? You need lose weight.
Yes, I know.
- You too big.  Make blood pressure too high.  Bad for you.  You need lose weight.
Got it.  All my life. (I'm thinking if you can jab a needle somewhere to help me that'd be great.)
- You close eyes now.

I close my eyes, listening to the ringing of the phone, the humming of some generator near this back room, and her shuffling around the room.  She's picking up the needle wrappers and rearranging things in the overstuffed, ancient doctor's bag she brought into the room.  She accidentally kicks something that goes skittering across the floor.  More ambling around and the zipping of her bag.  I'm waiting for some explanation as I crack an eyelid just in time to see her little arm sneak in as the door is closing behind her, and she flicks the switch to turn off the lights.

Now, this is no spa-like room with low lighting and relaxing music.  The only light source is the digital display on the phone, and the annoying blinking lights showing people who might be on hold to make an appointment with this insane little woman who has just left me in this room.  Is she going home for the day?  I can't very well get up with these needles in me to call for someone.  If my phone was closer I'd actually call the office to ask if she's still in the building.  As the minutes pass and I'm becoming more and more uncomfortable and stressed I start to wonder how this is helping my already horrible blood pressure.  Not good for long life.  Is this a Seinfeld episode?  All I know is, if she has indeed left me in here because she forgot and got sidetracked, surely one of the office workers will come in soon to restock and he or she will rescue me.

Finally, about 10 minutes later she returns and suddenly flicks on all the too-bright overhead fluorescent lights.

- I give you more time for your blood pressure.  (She proceeds to remove all the needles and then poke me with some pointy device.)
- I no see these moles before.  I should have put needles here.  (More pressing of the poky thing onto the moles on my face.  Back and forth between two particular ones.  She pokes around down by my feet, then grabs my ankles and sort of shakes me back and forth, causing me to jiggle.  Remember, no bra under the gown)
- You feel better now?
Uh, yessss.  Sure. (Just get me out of here!)
-Good.  You feel so much better?
(If I agree, she'll let me go)

Somehow, I'm finally done and she tells me that I should come back in a few days - you know, because of my dangerously high blood pressure.  I'm not sure if she's expecting me to get thinner in that time as well.  Another worker knocks on the door to see  if she's almost done with the room.  All I can think is they must have some furniture that needs to be moved STAT.  I go out to the receptionist as I'm leaving because she still needed my copay.  She explains to me that they only have one phone line for the fax and credit card machine so they can't run the card when receiving a fax.  As I reach the comfort of my car, I look in the mirror to check whether I appear any more tired than usual.  There's a bright red drop of blood on the tip of my nose that the receptionist neglected to mention during our conversation!

As for my symptoms?  Well, I still have the ringing in my ear, just as loud as before.  I haven't had a vertigo attack yet... but I definitely think my head is spinning!


  1. Too funny! Cracking me up talking about the officer personnel just walking in and out. I would feel the same way!
    Stopping by from Finding the Funny! :)

    1. Hi Michelle,
      Thanks for checking out my blog! Needless to say, I have looked into new acupuncture providers, so my blood pressure should be better soon. Can't wait to read some more amusing posts from Finding the Funny!

  2. Oh no :( I have been thinking about going to an acupuncturist .... so rethinking it now!!!

    1. Freedom, I had such a wonderful experience today with a different provider (shocking, I know). It was spa-like and relaxing and soooooo much better than this wacky trip. You should look into it! Just think, this is probably the worst it could be.