14 December 2005

Acupuncture House Call

After two colds in four months, I could feel my ear starting to go again. I’ve had the dizzies for a few weeks now and thought it best I find a Chinese doctor before things got out of hand. It’s not like I have been loosing my balance or anything, but things in the inner ear just aren’t right. Fortunately for me, I was given the name of a local Chinese doctor last week.

I called Dr Trung on Monday. The first thing I asked was if he read Chinese. The reason being that Doctor Leung, (who had treated me in California and spoke no English), had given me a medical letter written in Chinese. Dr Trung assured me that he did and that he could see me Wednesday afternoon. I asked for directions to his office. No need for that, he said, he would come to my house. I did think this was odd, but when I checked with the woman who had given me his name, she said that was how he worked.

At 3:30 he knocked at my door. He sat down and I handed him the letter from California. He read it and asked me some questions about my health. He also wanted to make sure that I wanted the needle treatment and if I’d had it done before. I explained that I was nearly a professional pin cushion. Then I lay down on the couch.

He sat down on a stool, opened his briefcase, took out supplies, and put them on the chair next to me. Then he unwrapped one of those disposable wet towel things and wiped his hands carefully. I watched as he opened a metal tray containing a ton of carefully ordered needles. He assured me they were sterile.

I’d only ever had one other doctor stick me, so was interested I experiencing the difference or similarities in technique. Even before the treatment began, there were differences. Dr Leung always first took my pulse, on both wrists, then checked my blood pressure. Dr Trung did neither. The sticking-in was also a little different and felt a little different but, with both doctors, it never hurts.

Almost immediately one can start to feel little electrical tingles coursing between the needles. I got a needle in the temple region, behind the ear, between the eyes, on the top of my head, on the feet and legs. (equally distributed on both sides of my body.) Then he hooked me up to the electric pulse machine, but only for the temple and ear points. In California, every needle got plugged in. It is then you really start to buzz and it is very relaxing. My eyes were already closed and it would be 20 minutes before I opened them again.

I must admit that lying in your own house to get a treatment is quite decadent and so much easier that going to the doctor’s office. But all the sensations took me right back to the little office in Oakland’s Chinatown where I had had my last treatment. I missed the conversations going on in Chinese between the doctor and other patients. I missed the smiling faces of the elderly clients, waiting for treatment or herbal medicine. And most of all, I missed the smell. I adore the aroma of Chinese herbs. You just want to dive into to all of them and roll around. It was always so soothing and calming. I really hoped this doctor would leave me with a batch, but my nose didn’t pick up any of the scents.

Lying there and dreaming of the office in Chinatown, I did what I always do in such situations; fall into a deep REM state, only to be awoken by Dr Trung telling me he would now remove the needles.

After quickly pulling them out, he immediately put pressure on the spot with an alcohol soaked piece of cotton. And as with all my prior experiences, after 5 minutes, it is impossible to tell where the needle had entered.

I asked about any herbs I might need and the doctor told me I didn’t need them. Or maybe he will bring some next time. Although he does speak English, it is still limited. I did find out that he studied in China and that the needles are made in Vietnam. Next time I will ask more questions. He seems to think 7 treatments should have me right back on track. After only one, I feel better. And the cost? About US$4. I simply couldn’t pay that little even if that is more than some people earn in a day. After all, I am not some people.

My next treatment is on Friday, and I am sure he has time for anyone else who would like to come over and get cured. Such a sensible way to treat the infirm!

Maybe this weekend I will go to an herbal shop to gets bags of scents to freshen my house.