Lab Assignment #3


Problem: Fibromyalgia pain, migraines, brain injury side effects, TMJ pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, difficulty concentrating, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and the occasional hangnail

Hypothesis: Acu – acu- acu – <gasp> puncture could help with these problems.

Commentary: Acupuncture has a branding problem. If it weren’t for that nasty word buried in its name – a word that I associate with popped tires and injuries that require tetanus shots – I would have tried this method a long time ago. To be honest, I have never heard anyone who has tried it say anything bad about it. If there were such a thing as an “acupuncture industry,” its marketing department should get on the phone fast and hire whichever advertising firm is responsible for plastering all of those full-page spreads for Lyrica all over Oprah magazine. But, of course, the fact that there ISN’T any such thing as an acupuncture industry (and there absolutely IS such a thing as a Lyrica industry) is a large part of the reason I want to trust it as a treatment.


Attend first acupuncture appointment at 11:30 am tomorrow. Write down details about symptoms and feelings of general health both before and after the appointment. Try hard not to change other details of my routine in order to isolate acupuncture as a variable. Evaluate success and make further appointments as desired.


Friday, 2/10: I am now officially punctured. The experience itself was very routine: arrived, filled out a questionnaire and talked with the acupuncturist about my symptoms, was led to a recliner, took off my shoes, socks, and sweatshirt, closed my eyes, and let myself be turned into a human pin cushion. To say that it didn’t hurt at all would be a lie, but the needles didn’t hurt very much, and some of them didn’t hurt at all. Actually, most of the sensations I felt took place when the needles were removed: at that time my body tingled all over and I felt quite a bit of pain at the places where the needles had been. I had trouble believing that they weren’t there any more. Driving home, though, I had TONS of pain in my neck, shoulders, and back. Just releasing the parking brake and putting the car into reverse hurt like crazy. I don’t think that’s from the acupuncture itself but from the fact that I was sitting completely still for an hour. Holding still always leaves me in pain even when I am relatively relaxed (I’ve completely stopped going to movies in theaters for this reason). The last time I had an MRI I didn’t feel normal again – i.e. back to my usual threshold of pain – for a week. I’ll have to mention it to the acupuncturist next time. Also, when my left wrist and hand were stuck with needles, the hand started doing its crazy internal-twitching thing: feeling like it was tremoring but not actually tremoring. I think I tensed up trying to keep it still.

Next appointment: Tuesday, 2/14.

Saturday, 2/11, 4:28 am: Well here I am, wide awake, walking around rolling my shoulders in little circles and marveling at the general lack of stiffness and pain in them. What I feel instead is a variation of the post-migraine feeling: a very tender painlessness that leaves me with a fear of doing something that will start the pain going again. So I guess this means no more washing the dishes. Ever.

Saturday, 2/11, 7:20 am: About 20 minutes ago I got up from the couch and found myself with some serious dizziness and vertigo. I’m having trouble walking around without falling, and even when I’m sitting I get waves of dizziness every couple of minutes. Does acupuncture lower the blood pressure?

Saturday, 2/11, 9 pm: Slept from about 7:30-10 am, 1-2:30 pm, and 6-8:30 pm, each time soundly and deeply. I had no alternative but to sleep – the exhaustion was that profound. The vertigo continued throughout the day but was generally better after the second nap. I felt mildly nauseous as well, although I ate with my normal appetite. This acupuncture is kooky stuff.

Sun, 2/12: Today I was tired and totally sapped of energy once again. The dizziness was only mild, though. I have a headache, but I blame this on my downgrade to green tea and not on the acupuncture. Slept from about 1:30 -9:30 am and then from about 2:30-4:45 pm.

Tues, 2/14: Pre-acupuncture check-in. I am feeling very groggy today, probably from the pain pill I took last night. Both of my shoulders ache, and on the right side the pain is radiating all the way down my arm. I have a below-average amount of neck and head pain, though. The vertigo and extreme sleepiness from the last acupuncture appointment seem to be gone. Interested to see how it will go today.

Tues, 2/14: So I learned something. If acupuncture causes you vertigo, just shut up and deal with it, because if you tell the acupuncturist about the vertigo she will put the needles in really scary places, like the TOPS of your fingers (right below the nail) and the INSIDE of your ear. And they hurt too (the part about acupuncture not hurting is a myth) although I feel pretty good now. I’ll be interested to see how I feel in the morning…

Wed, 2/15, 8:45 am: Last night I was in bed by 8 (I couldn’t even stay up for the season premiere of the Duggars) and asleep by 9:30, and I woke up around 8:15. I feel a little groggy and a little stiff, but I definitely have less back, neck, and shoulder pain than usual. My ankle pain is really bad, though. But whatever. I don’t want to know where the acupuncture point is for removing an invisible skewer from an ankle.

Fri, 2/17, 9:30 am: pre-acupuncture check-in. I slept well last night (9:30 pm – 7 am) but still feel a little groggy after not sleeping at all two nights ago. I have a general stiffness all over, but probably a less than average amount of neck, upper back, and shoulder pain. I am going to talk with the acupuncturist today and tell her that I don’t want the needles in the tops of my fingers any more. I think I prefer the vertigo!

Fri, 2/17, 1 pm: I think acupuncture went really well today. She used the needle positions that she used the first time around just to see if the vertigo returns or if it was a factor of my body’s adjustment to getting acupuncture for the first time. There was almost no pain upon insertion of the needles and then none at all during the treatment, and I think I really relaxed during the treatment for the first time. I feel good now, with only a little bit of neck stiffness and no real pain. I think I might feel another marathon nap coming on, though.

In other news, there is a business right next door to the acupuncture place called “Gimp Management and Tax Consultancy.” I thought there was something wrong with my eyes – “that can’t say GIMP MANAGEMENT – but I looked at it three or four times  and that does seem to be what it says. I wonder how many confused clients they get who were expecting a different kind of business…

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4 Responses to Lab Assignment #3

  1. Jill Mikovich-Haight says:

    Possible cause for dizziness/possible hypotension: pain raises blood pressure; it’s possible that if the acupuncture decreased your pain, it might have also decreased your blood pressure, and therefore made you dizzy. So this might be good. Or perhaps not, because low blood pressure is not always a good thing… Hope you are feeling better now. 🙂

    • lfpbe says:

      Huh – that’s interesting. I wouldn’t say that my net amount of pain decreased much until this morning. Yesterday afternoon I had less pain in many parts of my body, but I had a really terrible headache. This morning most of the pain was gone, and that’s when the vertigo started. So your theory is a good one. I’ll definitely be calling the acupuncturist on Monday to ask her if these symptoms are normal, and I’ll see what she thinks.

  2. Jill says:

    Needles inside your ears?? Needles under your nails? Are you in a POW camp? Do you need rescuing?

    • lfpbe says:

      I might! Keep in mind that when I say under my nails, I mean on the tops of the fingers, under the nailbeds. If you’re looking at the top of your hand (I believe Mr. Grady gave us a lesson on this – it was called “looking at your fingernails like a woman”), the needles were placed about a quarter inch below where the nail ends. So not as creepy as actually under the nails themselves, but still creepy. And they hurt a lot. And yes, inside the ears too. But I did go home and sleep for 11 hours and then wake up with much less pain than usual, so unfortunately it seems to have worked. I guess I’d better get used to needles in bony places.

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