Sunday, March 21, 2010

My mind is as big as the universe

I went to see the Chinese medicine doctor on Monday.

He has a tiny clinic above a store on Queen Street. The first little room is the waiting room/office/dispensary, and the second and third little rooms are the treatment rooms. They are subdivided into cubicles with laundry line and bedsheets, I think there are six cubicles in all. Each cubicle has a massage table in it.

When I arrived I was greeted by the doctor's wife/nurse/receptionist.

Ah, you must be Isaac's mother! She grinned and nodded at me.

The signs said to turn off my cell phone and take off my shoes, there were plastic sandals for me to wear in the treatment room. She led me to a cubicle and directed me to undress and lie down on the table, with a sheet to cover me.

Soon the doctor came in, with his intern.

He said, Tell me everything. Where does it hurt?

I told him about the chest pain and the shortness of breath. I told him about my numb foot. I told him about the sore spot on my arm and the other one down low in my belly. He took my arm to feel my pulse, and he saw the bruising and scar from the angiogram.

He looked shocked. What is this?

I tried to explain about the angiogram, how the cardiologist ran into a blockage in my arm and had to try again elsewhere. The Chinese doctor rolled my wrist in his hand, examining the bruise and the scar. The scar was right where he wanted to feel my pulse.

Energy is blocked there, that's why the doctor couldn't do the angiogram there, he said.

Then he looked at my foot, asked me to point to exactly where it was numb.

Ah, he said, That is your kidney and your liver.

Then he told me to think of my mind getting bigger and bigger. Imagine that your mind is as big as the whole universe. Your mind is expanding to fill the universe and the energy is coming into your mind and into your body. The energy is flowing from your mind through your body and down to your feet. As he said this, he waved his arms slowly over my body to illustrate the flow of the energy. Keep your attention on this, your mind is expanding to fill the universe. The energy is flowing through you.

Then his voice got very quiet, I couldn't hear the words, but he was talking faster. I don't know if he was talking to his intern or himself or if he was reciting some healing incantation. But I was getting very relaxed and my eyes were closed and my mind was getting bigger.

He started inserting the needles. He would tap hard where he wanted to put a needle, and then insert it in that spot. Sometimes I only felt the tap, sometimes the needle hurt. Sometimes he fiddled with the needle, inserting it deeper or sideways or something. I looked at them later, they were long and very very thin, they flopped over when they were inserted.

After he and the intern were finished inserting all the needles, they left me alone. I had needles on my face, in my hair, on my stomach and up and down my arms and legs. In the background was soft soothing music. I heard him talking to another patient in another cubicle, and then later another patient. I felt very relaxed and tried to think of my mind getting as big as the universe.

He came back to me in a while and took out the needles and directed me to lie on my stomach so he could insert some needles in my back. Again he left me alone for awhile, and then came back to remove the needles.

You can get dressed now.

I felt very relaxed, as if I'd just had a really good massage. I dressed and gathered up my things and came back out to the waiting room. The doctor's wife started to write the bill for me.

The doctor said, You like some pills?

I shrugged and said, Sure.

He picked two boxes with fancy Chinese writing on them and put them on the desk beside the bill.

You take 8 pills of each, 3 times a day.

Holy shmoly, he wants me to take 50 pills a day!

He said, Next time, I treat your skin condition (there's a small scaly patch under my hair, he wants to put a needle in it).

Next time? When should I come back?

You need lots of treatment, you a mess. You come twice a week, then once a week. He grinned at me.

He showed me some exercises he wanted me to do, and also how to stomach-breathe.

Next time, he said, I show you how to meditate.

I walked out of there feeling just about as high as I could be. For the first time in a very long time, I felt like I could get better.

Maybe acupuncture works, maybe it doesn't, I don't know. But all those doctors and nurses at the hospital could sure learn a thing or two from this guy about how to promote healing. He made me feel like getting better was very doable.

And when I was walking home I thought about all those things I told him about. About the breathing and the numb foot and the ache in my lower belly. I thought they were all unrelated, all different things. But they all started at the same time, and he made me see that they are all related. He made me feel like a whole person, nothing is unrelated, nothing is a coincidence.

And I can get better. My mind is as big as the universe.


Barbara Anne said...

How amazing! There are more mysteries under the sun than we suspect and more validity to some world-away treatments that we can understand.

Thank you for taking me with you to this most interesting experience.

Wishing you wholly well.


20th Century Woman said...

I have always wondered what acupuncture was like. Your description really showed me. I still feel squeamish about the needles (and worried about sanitation) but I'm interested that you are positive about its benefits.

Annie said...

Hi Barbara, it is really amazing isn't it? But I am gaining a respect for the complexities and insights of Chinese medicine. A system after all that has been in existence and continually refined for a couple of thousand years or more.

Annie said...

20CW, these days reputable acupuncturists use disposable needles. I could hear my acupuncturist removing their paper wrappers, and I saw the used needle disposal bins. He also wiped my skin with alcohol before inserting the needles. I've been three times already, I can't see the puncture sites and there's been no sign of infection.

Yes, sometimes the needles hurt when being inserted, but once inserted the pain goes away. Mostly though, the needles go in easily and with only the most minor of skin prick sensations. Removal of the needles is quick and painless.

Overall I would say it was a very positive experience, but not completely pain-free.

marciamayo said...

What a window into a world I know so little about, one that, if we embraced it, might make a big difference in our lives. We are all so insulated by what we think we know.

Wisewebwoman said...

While I think of it, I think you would enjoy "Daughter of Fortune" by Isabel Allende which explores in depth the melding of Western and Eastern Medicine.
We have so much to learn about everything being connected, don't we?
I'm glad you're feeling your good health again!

Annie said...

Hello Marcie, I like your phrase "We are all so insulated by what we think we know." You are so right.

Annie said...

Thanks WWW, I'll look for it.

Rain Trueax said...

I have only had acupuncture twice, before I had my hysterectomy. The acupuncturist told me that he probably could have shrunk my fibroids but by then the medical doctors were not sure I didn't have cancer (I didn't) and I was getting pretty sick from the whole situation; so I just wanted it to help me heal. I cannot say what it did but I do know I made a very rapid recovery from the surgery, felt better very quickly than I had in years. I would have it again but living where I do, doctors of any sort aren't very easy to arrange. I do believe in it though especially when a person has also gone the medical route as more of an additive than a substitute. We are energy beings and there is no reason to not believe acupuncture wouldn't help our energy. My experience for what it was like is about what you described minus I didn't take any homeopathic along with it.

Annie said...

I'm like you Rain, I tend to trust the western medical experts first and only go to alternative healers as a last resort or for additional support. But the older I get the more I see that the there are limits to what the experts know, sooner or later you have to start trusting yourself and looking elsewhere.