My ethnic background is Asian, so you might think that I'd have grown up with getting needles stuck in me since I was kid, but nothing could be further from the truth. I grew up going to a regular ol' pediatrician at Kaiser, an HMO, and my only exposure to acupuncture was through kung fu movies.
I initially had visions of a old-bearded Chinese man with spectacles and a silk robe working out of a back room of an herb shop, but my acupuncturists are all pretty young, they're all white, and they work out of a regular medical office building. There is modern asian decor theme going on, and I'm pretty sure the place was feng-shui'd. Their office also smells faintly of herbs, which might be off-putting to some, but the smell has grown on me.
Now obviously my experiences may be radically different from someone else's, but here's the general gist of it:
- My appointments start with my acupuncturist viewing my BBT chart and getting a general rundown of my health that week - quality of sleep, changes in digestion, energy level, etc.
- The needles do poke, but they're not particularly painful, and you get acclimated to the sensation pretty quickly.
- The most noteworthy sensation is when the acupuncturist turns the needle slightly - it can sometimes cause a tingly sensation, and it feels a little bit like your nerves are being tuned. I've noticed that I'm more sensitive to this in my luteal phase, and they acknowledge that the sensitivity comes from having more progesterone in the body.
- Although a lot of acupuncture images (like the one above) show lots of needles being used, that's never been the case with me. Maybe around 6-10 needles in key points in each session. The usual areas of needling are my feet, my ankles, my calves, the side of my hand, tops of my ears, top of my head, and sometimes my lower abdomen.
- My favorite point is the one right in the middle of the forehead, where a bindi would go. One of my acupuncturists calls this the "happy point." It never fails to relax me, and I will often fall asleep during a session if I get "happy-pointed."
- It is possible to insert acupuncture needles through clothing because the points are so sharp, but thick denim can be a problem. I usually go in yoga clothes so that they can easily roll up/down sleeves, pant legs, waistbands, or insert them straight through the clothing if need be.
- Once the needles are in, my acupuncturist will usually darken the room and leave me to "cook" for 20 - 30 minutes. I'm pretty used to just zoning out or taking a light nap when they go, though it's occurred to me to load up an iPod with some inspirational thoughts or affirmations and meditate to that.
- My acupuncturists do give me herb tinctures (herb mixes distilled in alcohol) to take a few times a day. (Mr. Stick calls them my "Liza Minnelli" moments the alcohol smells pretty strong.) I take different herb mixes depending on my cycle - whether I'm menstruating, in my follicular phase, or my luteal phase.
- I do acupuncture once a week, though when I started a few months ago, they asked me to come in twice a week to "get things moving" more quickly.
Well, it hasn't given me a BFP yet, and that to me is the biggest litmus test. And it hasn't moved my O date (I'm a "late ovulator") like I had expected it to, though I can say that it has definitely "smoothed" out my BBT charts. My temps don't jump around as much (though that has changed with Clomid), and the temp shift in my luteal phase is very clear and strong.
I can unequivocally say that acupuncture has done wonders for my allergies. I've had the easiest cedar season in ten years since doing acupuncture. I haven't had to take Claritin, and my neti pot is actually starting to collect dust. So I know it hasn't been a waste of money and has improved the quality of my life in a measurable way.
So tomorrow - on to the electrostimming account!