It was time to fight poison with poison. After more than 2 weeks of excruciating soreness, I was delirious and all I wanted to do was exact revenge on my pain. I wanted my right upper back strain to experience the misery it caused me. I wanted to torture that damned pain, make it suffer… and it felt good.
The first time I had acupuncture done was about 5 years ago when I kept having a hammering headache for days. I don’t have a history of migraine and I rarely feel like my skull was redecorating itself. And I can take no painkillers because my face will swell into a baboon’s ass. So I decided to try acupuncture since it was getting mainstream validity for its efficacies.
I had my first prick at a branch of the Ma Guang TCM Medical Group and after one session, the headache never came back. Maybe it was because the idea of seeing fine needles sticking out from either side of my procerus freaked my brain pain away, but I had no doubt that acupuncture effect instant reactions from the body.
And on Tuesday (5 Jun 07), I had my second taste of it at Jing Hua Acupuncture. I wasn’t prepared for my back to be human dartboard but the Chinese female physician from China rattled on so quickly about my diagnosis and how she will rub me the right way, I was swept into the packaged treatment. Or should I say, the torture of Nanking.
It started with an acupuncture therapy that seemed to last light years. The process of tapping 7 or 8 needles onto my back was quick. It’s the period waiting for the needles to work their magic that took what to me, was an eternity. As I lay prone, staring down on the white tiles from the hole in the headrest, I could feel my back heating up. The back of my right shoulder also felt a mild sensation of numbness. I thought, ‘wow, the needles can get my body to churn up heat by itself, this is so cool!’
But it was hot. I felt like I was getting a sunburn indoors. Then I sort of deduced that there was actually a heating lamp over the punctured site. That’s when I also felt a minty cool tingling sensation at those needle points while the rest of my right wing grilled. It wasn’t an unpleasant feeling, but I wondered how long I need to have them on. I mean, do they cause internal injury if left on for too long? So I tried to raise my face up from the hole to ask for assistance.
All I managed was twitching my neck muscle but couldn’t raise my whole head. It seemed that the 2 needles stuck behind my head at the base of the skull numbed my neck muscles. Ok, I am getting panicky. But it won’t look cool having a walrus of a man squealing for help. So I tried to listen in to my physician dispense advice to a patient she was attending to in the next cubicle instead. She can outsell even the most experienced salesperson.
Finally, she came over and pulled out the chills. After some questioning and feeling around my upper back, she proceeded to coat me with the most ‘spicy’ pain relief oil I’ve ever used. Her trained fingers were really good. She found my spot easily and started to punish my pain. Needless to say, my face was all twisted up with every grimace to the point that the pain felt so good.
When you’re used to a certain, constant method of causing pain, it becomes a comfort spot. Then a new stimulus comes along… this time in the form of a thumb-sized mallet that she used to hit repeatedly on my sores. The surface pain of having something slapping your skin is nothing compared to the stings I felt deep within my muscles. My feet began to dance in the air to the beat of the mallet.
But the wooden hammer is nothing compared to what she used next – an egg-sized glass bulb. It looked so cute. It can’t hurt a scratch. Except when it sucked a rim of my flesh into its little mouth, and the physician proceeded to run it all over my back as if she was scrubbing a pair of old canvas shoes… yeah, not a scratch… more like skid marks from 10 trucks in a four-way collision. Yet, that’s only the baby of more glass suckers to come.
Totally ravaged by now, I heard the excited clatter of my next torturers. I sort of knew what’s coming. I saw a basket tray of soot-bellied glass bulbs at a corner before I lay down. The transparent globes, as big as decorative Christmas balls, gleamed hungrily as they caught my reflection. Now I am theirs.
With a flick of the lighter heating up their appetite, they leeched onto my back sucking in as much meat as their heated vacuum can allow. There were 18 of them feeding off my back and their grip was so tight. This torture method is called moxibuction. And it is supposed to remove excess ‘dampness’ in my body which had caused the tenderness in my back muscles. I don’t know how true that is but I sure got grossed out at the saucer-sized bruises they left behind.
After lying there for more than an hour and having spent S$45.00, I was amazed how much pain I could endure. So, I fought pain with pain. And I had to go back again tomorrow for another session (I was told that my problem will be properly treated with 3 to 4 sessions of acupuncture / tui na / cupping / moxibuction). I shudder at the thought of tomorrow. For now, I feel like a fruit-seller… mangosteens, anyone?