I had tried so many things to get well. I wanted to believe that acupuncture would cure me of all my chronic health issues. A number of friends assured me this was definitely the solution. After all, China has been practicing this treatment as far back as 2,500 years. The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow (Qi) through the body that are essential for health, and disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease. Western medicine hadn’t helped me yet. Here was the solution. I felt empowered!
I entered the small Chinese shop in a shopping strip in downtown Sugar House and sat down, looking at all the Chinese paintings and knick-knacks. My stomach quaked with nerves, but I knew I could do this because, this time, the treatment would work.
A small, older, oriental woman came from the back of the room. “Come,” she said, bowing slightly.
I followed her into an examination room, except it wasn’t like any doctor’s exam room I had ever been in before. It was dingy, smelled odd, and eerily dim.
“Why you here?” she asked.
I took a deep breath and dove into my lengthy medical history, trying to keep it as short and succinct as I could. She continued to nod her small head, her hair dipping forward each time. I finally finished and waited for her to say something.
She just stared at me. “You fat,” she finally said.
“I know, but that’s not why I’m here,” I answered back.
“You fat,” she said again.
“I know. The doctors have said my body isn’t well enough to lose weight. Can you help me?”
“I fix,” she said. “It no hurt.”
She opened a drawer and pulled out a box, containing a set of long but thin, metal needles. I have to admit, my heart skipped a beat. Thoughts of fleeing entered my mind, but my determination to get well stopped me.
She inserted the first needle into my forehead. I sighed. It didn’t hurt. She continued to place them in my face, hands, elbows and calves. It wasn’t painful at all. It would work, and I’d be cured. I’d be pain-free! I wouldn’t be sick all the time! I wanted to jump for joy but knew I had to stay still.
“Now we start,” she said.
Start? What did she mean—start?
She manipulated one of the needles in my face. I felt a sting and spreading sensation. She continued with each needle.
“It hurts,” I said.
“No. It no hurt.” She vibrated another needle.
Yeah, I was pretty certain it hurt. “Can you stop?”
“It no hurt,” she told me again.
A lump formed in my throat and heat rose behind my eyes. If this wasn’t pain, what was it?
“I be back,” she said, darting from the room.
I couldn’t catch my breath, the pain was so excruciating. One or the other of us was in denial about whether this hurt or not. As the pain intensified and spread in my legs like wildfire, I was certain it wasn’t me. How could she possibly tell me it didn’t hurt when it did? I wanted to pull every needle from my body but didn’t dare. What if I did something wrong? What if I made the pain worse?
“Help!” I called out in agony. “Help me!”
She didn’t come. Sweat beaded on my forehead. Tears pooled in the corners of my eyes and blurred my vision. I tipped my head so the tears spilled. The Chinese woman stepped back in the room and gave the needle in my calf a spin before I could stop her.
“No! Stop!” I called out in misery. “It hurts. Please stop.”
“It no hurt,” she said again.
I wanted to strangle her. I wanted to rip out these needles and stab her to death with them. I couldn’t take it any longer.
I’m pretty sure I swore at some point and didn’t feel at all bad about it. “Take them out,” I demanded.
“You not done.”
“Take them out now!”
She scurried around, removing them. I swung my legs over the table and tried to stand. The pain radiated throughout me, especially my legs. It felt like someone had drilled holes through my bones with a jackhammer. Each step increased the pain.
“You come back and I treat you fat,” she said.
I glared at her and then hobbled out of the shop. In fact, I hobbled for ages. It took several months before the pain dissipated. A round, red mark and swelling stayed on each calf the whole time. My chronic health problems didn’t improve, and, yeah, I was still fat.
I’ve told this story over the years with a funny accent and a good laugh. It’s just another case of laugh about it or cry.
Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
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