On Pins and Needles

One morning I was half asleep and slurping coffee when I thought, Hey! You know what would be good right now? Needles! Lots of tiny needles shoved into various body parts! 

I’ve suffered from chronic low back pain ever since 1997 when I hit a moose going 55 mph. The car, not the moose. Actually, the moose too. Those buggers can run like hell on their spindly legs when they have a good mind to.

Anyway, all moose-killing* stories aside, I figure a little acupuncture couldn’t hurt. Much.

Looks like fun!

My acupuncturist is a lovely doctor from California who recently opened her practice here. She said it’s hard to find new open-minded patients like me. I informed her this is because most Mainers believe nothing cures ills better than a cold wash cloth and a full bottle of Allen’s coffee brandy. Then she told me to put down my coffee brandy bottle and get on the table.

You think I was nervous getting my first treatment? Try doing it semi-sober. The room was tranquil enough: gentle New Age music, soft massage table, comfy face hole pillow to drool into so I can wake up an hour later and pay the receptionist with pillow creases plastered across my face like a moron.

“Okay, let’s get started, just relax,” the doc suggested. So I relaxed as much as anyone would before a good needle-jabbing. She gently inserted the first needle into my neck. Interesting, I thought. This feels… just like having a needle shoved in your neck! Yes, it was a tiny pinch, nothing major. Still, a needle! In my fracking neck! Am I drooling because stainless steel accidentally pierced my occipital lobe? Is this how I die? A paralyzed pin cushion listening to Enya while trapped on a massage table?

Then she slid about 20 more needles into my neck, spine, legs, and for good measure, about a half-dozen more in my sacral region (aka upper ass-crackage). Like they always say, the more needles in your ass, the better.

“How do you feel?” she asked. Um, like there’s 30 goddamn needles sticking out of my body! I wanted to yell. How long am I supposed to do this? 

“Good. I feel good.” I murmured. “It’s all good. Yeah.” Yeah, this entire situation is normal. I do it all the time. Pffft.

I tried to calm myself down by listening to the soothing music. “…who can say…where the road goes…where the day flows… only time…” Enya sang.
Such an asshole.

Then I heard the door close and the doc was gone. Probably off to the little room where she’ll eat popcorn and laugh at me through a two-way mirror. This was when my brain went into overdrive.

What am I supposed to do now? Just lie here? Oh my god! I can feel the needles! It doesn’t hurt, but I know they’re there! And the ones near my ass are really starting to tingle. Huh. You know what? It’s kinda nice. But what if she hit my sciatic nerve? What if I get a sudden urge to jump off the table? Would the needles fall out? Holy shit, shut up Enya! Die Enya die! Make this music stop! How long am I supposed to lie here? With needles sticking out of me! NEEDLES! THERE ARE NEEDLES IN ME! CALM DOWN, DARLA. CALM DOWN. It’s okay. You can do this. Just breathe in and breath out. Ah, nope, when I breathe I can feel the needles moving. What if one punctures my carotid artery? Just hold your breath, Darla. Just hold your breath until you pass out. This will only take 30 minutes, tops. Whatever you do, don’t move a muscle. It doesn’t hurt. The needles are fine. The Chinese have been doing this for thousands of years! But what if I have to get up to go to the bathroom? I think I have to go to the bathroom. Would the other patients mind if they saw a half-naked dude from Hellraiser creeping through the waiting room? How would I sit down on the toilet? Could I go standing up?  I think I tried it once on a dare back when I was seven, but there were no needles sticking out of me at the time…

Holy needlenuts, I really have to pee now.

Maybe if I shift my lower body, I won’t have to go anymore…Oh god! I think one of the needles is moving in deeper! It’s–

The door creaked opened. “How you doing, Darla?”

“Wow! Is it over already? Those 30 minutes just FLEW by!” I sputtered into the drool-soaked face hole.

She plucked off the needles and gave me a hug.  I made an appointment for next week and left. But not before she suggested I try a bottle of herbal supplements to help with blood circulation. Among the long list of exotic ingredients: red peony root, licorice root, citrus peel, and eye of newt gingrich.

Even though I’m completely open to alternative medicine, I’m not convinced the pills will work. Red peony root is fine, I guess, and of course licorice root, duh. But what, no elderly Buddhist monk scrotum sweat?! For the amount of money I paid, it should contain at the very least the scrotum sweat of Newt Gingrich.

But I suppose I’ll try anything once. I’ll let you know if I survive next week’s treatment.


*I would never intentionally harm or kill a moose. Believe me, I was pretty upset when I hit one because I love all animals. Except spiders. Yeah, they can live inside my vacuum for the rest of their days, I don’t care.




65 thoughts on “On Pins and Needles

  1. My grandmother was into acupuncture she thought it worked great, I have been curious about it but lets be honest here, there is no way I could afford it so not going to happen, and also needles ok needles don’t bother me but a heap of them in my body at one time not so sure about that

    1. I am very lucky in that my insurance actually covers it, I only have a small co-pay. Needles don’t bother me much (after all, I drew lots of blood during my medical assistant days). But having lots of needles all over is a little….different.

  2. You hit a moose while you were going that fast and lived? Some haven’t, as you probably well know.

    I hope you get some relief using the needles. I always move a butt ton of energy with an acupuncture session, but my low back needs something more. I got out the big guns and travelled to my favorite healer (he’s in FL now), and got a few sessions last week. In fact, I’m going back next month and taking the kid to get sessions for both of us.

    1. I was extremely lucky I didn’t die hitting that moose. The poor moose wasn’t so lucky.

      I did get major relief from acupuncture. I absolutely loved it, don’t let this post fool you. I’ve had two sessions so far. I had lots of tingling in my sacrum, but that means it’s working. My doctor is AMAZING. Just an incredibly compassionate person, very knowledgeable. She was a general MD for years, then got into alternative medicine and I admire her for that. Do you still get Reiki at all? I would love to get my level 3 training done….one day…

      1. I’m thrilled for you! Awesome!! Do I get Reiki? Well, sort of. I’ve moved upwards and onwards from basic Reiki energy (and from what I’ve read about Meredith’s experiences, she’s not just doing Reiki, but might not realize it). Last week I actually flew to FL to have a few healing sessions with an incredible healer (his training is Pranic healing- but he’s taken it to amazing heights). I’m taking my kid to him next month and we’ll be staying almost a month. Between that guy and my soul sister who lives down there, who is the most intuitive person I know, I expect to see big changes in both me and my son. If you ever get the opportunity to get your level 3 Reiki training, absolutely go for it!!

        1. Yay! How wonderful for you and your son! I have the opportunity to get level 3, just not enough money. It’s costs upwards of 500 bucks! And I haven’t been practicing reiki like I should the past year…

    1. Yes, people have mentioned my writing is funny. Best compliment ever, thanks! The needles made me feel so good, full of energy. I already had session number two and will get a session once a week for a few months.

  3. You better hope that this supplement doesn’t contain any parts or sweat of Newt Gingrich, otherwise you could experience some obstruction and occasional impeachment.

          1. I would, but I kind of hope that 20 years from now, no one would remember who Donald Trump was (and not just because the world will have became a radioactive wasteland ).

  4. Tried acupuncture for pain and to stop smoking. Neither worked but I did quit smoking using another method. I am very sensitive to touch so the needles drove me crazy, never again.😱

    1. Ooh, yeah, if you’re sensitive to touch this might not be a good treatment. Honestly, I only felt a few needles go in, the rest were barely noticeable. But it was unnerving to feel them when I tried to adjust my head. I freaked out a little bit too much. The second time I had it done, I knew what to expect (and made sure to go to the bathroom before)

  5. I’ve considered trying acupuncture for my aching back. Do you think it’s worth it? Oh, please tell me it works, Darla. I need a miracle cure. I guess if you can ignore needles, right? And don’t have to go to the bathroom!! You’re very funny. Sorry about that moose and your accident. That is a bummer.

    1. Yes, Amy! Try it! I’m a firm believer in alternative treatments. I’ve been to many chiropractors and I practice Reiki myself. So this was the next step.

      The needles weren’t as bad as I thought they’d be. Honestly, it felt amazing (after it was over). My back pain vanished for the rest of the week. I don’t know what your back issues are, but I have no disc between my lowest two vertebrae, it’s like a pancake so it’s bone on bone. It’s pretty severe arthritis so I’d have to get acupuncture a long time. The doc said normally people start out 2 times a week, then she tapers them off over time. I’d say for me personally, this treatment is more effective than chiropractic.

      1. Thanks for the info, Darla. I’m not sure what my problem is. It’s on one side only. Chronic pain. I’m not sure if it’s a disc or arthritis. I want my young back back. Argh!! I’m glad to hear this worked for you. I’ll definitely consider it.

  6. if you are into weird things, also ask her about cupping.. it , well it is little cups instead of little needles that use suction instead of poking… but it can really help with pain

    Also your post was great!

    1. Hehehe! well, not Bullwinkle, but a female moose. I can barely hurt a fly, so this was pretty devastating for me. They had to shoot it because she was suffering so much afterward. Okay, enough sad moose stories! Just happy to be alive at this point.

  7. My uncle swore by acupuncture. Maybe it was his imagination and maybe it’ll be yours but if it helps, who cares? That’s the end result you seek. Is this an out-of-pocket expense or does your plan cover alternative medicine? (‘Alternative’ being anything they don’t make money off of.)

    Thank you for not titling this ‘Needles and Pins’ and leaving me with an insufferable all-day earworm. Have you ever heard The Ramones’ version of ‘Needles and Pins?’ It’s great!

    1. I have a sneaking suspicion pretty much all medicine is due to imagination. I think this treatment is working very well so far. I’ve had two sessions and zero back pain. thank god my insurance covers this (one of the few) I only have a 20 buck co-pay. Otherwise, I’d just have one of my kids stand on my lower back instead.

      I have never heard that Ramones song before, just listened to it on youtube.

  8. Doctors have done all manner of nasties to my bodies, but I’ve never had acupuncture. You’d think before I advocated to willingly put somebody else’s poop up my butt, I would, but, ummm, no.

    At my 20th high school reunion in 1994, I asked a guy I’d known what he did. “Accupuncture” he responded. I’m still trying to figure out what to reply.

    1. Ah, yes, the ol’ someone-else’s-poop-up-your-butt treatment! I know it well. I wrote a paper on C. diff a few years ago for college.

      My acupuncturist was a regular MD for years before she switched. Honestly, I would love to do it myself. (well, not TO myself, but to other people)

  9. Jeez-o-criminy you’re brave. I know this is an ancient Chinese secret, even more ancient than that laundry detergent, but I just don’t think I could do it because, well, all the stuff you described in such hysterical detail.

    But did it work, Darporcupinela?

  10. DAAARRRRLLLLLAAAHAHAHAHAHA! So glad you’re back. 😀

    I tried acupuncture once. Didn’t seem to do anything for me. I do have an incredible chiropractor who does muscle work as much as adjustment. He’s excellent – and he cured weeks of back pain in short order.

    You take care of that back, now, ya hear? And don’t be bleeding out on the acupuncturist’s table either!! 😉


  11. I tried acupuncture a couple of times to help with migraines. It did feel weird with needles in my forehead! What if I twitched and sent the needle into my eye sockets? Yikes!
    But it did help quite a bit!

  12. I am soooooooooo glad to know there are other people who freak out like this on the table. Now I feel normal. What a public service you’ve provided. Sorry it had to come at the expense of a moose and your back. Hope the hoodoo worked.

  13. bindmoggled

    I’ve always wondered whether this works or not. I may try it some time for certain ailments my 50-something year old body suffers from. I, too, love your writing. You are absolutely hilarious. I wish I could spend more time here than my procrastinating habit allows me to. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  14. My mum swears by acupuncture. I’m not convinced myself, but I don’t tell my mum that because if she believes it works for her, then whether it’s the placebo effect or not, I don’t want to knock it and spoil that for her!

    Poor moose, and poor you!

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