For years, I’ve recommend acupuncture to friends because I believe it helps many things that can befall us.  Because everyone has talked about “needles,” however, I’ve never used this ancient Chinese healing method.   I am coping with serious collateral damage resulting from minor surgery that was itself easy and totally successful.  My surgeon has said that I am so thin that there was not enough patty tissue to surround and protect several nerves, so I am left being unable to raise my left arm laterally or horizontally.  The nerves affected at those controlling one’s rotator cuff.  This fall-out rises above being a nuisance because I am seriously left-handed.  A friend brought me delicious matsa ball soup the day I came home from the hospital.  At dinner time, I heated it and got it into a bowl.  When I sat at my kitchen table and tried to eat it with my right hand, the broth kept falling onto the floor.  Patches, my dear kitty, thought she’d hit the culinary jack-pot but I determined I needed to plan meals with discrete pieces of solid food that could stick onto a fork that I could eventually maneuver to my mouth.  So lots of chicken and fish, broccoli and cauliflower.  Breakfast is till a challenge after about ten days of dealing with this complication:  I eat shredded wheat/bran with a little skim milk every morning but Sunday.  I like my cereal to be as crunchy as possible which means I do not linger of this meal.  Now I cannot do otherwise since each spoonful requires mental concentration which delays anything actually being eaten. 

But I persist.  

The worst part of this challenge comes because it feels like someone is lighting small matches under the skin from my left wrist to my left shoulder.  The pain and discomfort is so severe that I am startled at times by how extreme it becomes.  At night, I find it almost impossible to find a good position to sleep, so I have become desperate to get relief.  So I talked with various people about their acupuncturist, decided which one to choose for myself, and went yesterday for my first session.  I told the Chinese doctor of my phobia about needles and she said, brightly, “Oh, let me show you a needle.”  Then she opened a packet of several things, one of which she took out.  It looked like a piece of hair on a stick, but she confirmed that it is a “needle.”  As she put in many of these little objects, beginning right at my left ear and going to my left pointing finger, I was vaguely aware that something was touching my skin.  But there was nothing remotely resembling a “needle” by my experiential understanding derived from childhood shots that left me wailing or simple blood draws that still cause me minor panic.  

This whole matter clearly exemplifies the old adage about anticipation being worse that the actual experience or event.  For me, I have to register that anticipation has been an enemy that has kept me from seeking this alternative treatment at several moments in my life when traditional western medical solutions were not solving what was the matter with me.  And I have to ask myself why I didn’t at least go ask an acupuncturist to show me their “needle.”