So if you saw my resolutions you’ll know I planned to try acupuncture to burst this bubble of infertility. (Do you see what I did there?!)
I chose the clinic for no other reason than it is near where I live. I didn’t know anyone else who had been and couldn’t find any reviews of it on the internet but just strolled in one day.
There was no one in reception, so I shouted “Hello” a few times and the acupuncturist popped out of the back room. I asked if there was anyone I could speak to about acupuncture.
Still standing in the doorway between the two rooms he asked briskly:
“What do you need to know?”
“Well, if it will help me, how much it costs, when I can have an appointment…”
“Yes. We can help. £55 for first session, £40 pounds after. Take this leaflet, call us to book an appointment”.
And he went back to the anteroom.
Not a great start. But the fee was about what I had expected (one of the reasons why it had taken me so long to book in the first place) and as I walked away I decided I would rather have a brusque acupuncturist who knew his stuff than a smarmy salesman who played the right Chinese whale music (no, I’ve no idea how it differs from other whales either).
So I had my first session on Monday and I realised it is just him who works there and, when he nipped out, he had a client in the back room hence the anxiety to get me away quick.
He didn’t speak very good English. But that added an air of authority. I had only had acupuncture once before, years ago before I started this ttc malarkey, and that was with a English bloke. I got it cheap cause he was a trainee – I know, of all the trainees you probably don’t want acupuncturists are way up there, but what can I say, I’m tight - anyway this time it felt like I was paying for the real thing.
He started off the consult by asking me a few questions. Here we go, time to repeat everything as I had done to so many other doctors. But no, his questions were quite different:
What colour is your blood when you have a period?
Oof, I try not too look, quite dark I think.
Are they painful?
If I had two cups, one hot and one cold which would you drink?
Is this to test my yin and yang? Is he offering me a drink? I said cold, he didn't give me a drink.
Stick out your tongue.
He drew a picture of it and wrote a few things down, in Chinese, so my upside down reading didn’t help.
He explains a few things about Chinese medicine but with his heavy accent I didn’t get all of it. Something about 5 main organs and a happy womb and amount of energy that goes in compared to what goes out, I thought I heard him mention the word copulate but then he was banging on about my spleen so who knows.
He got me to hop onto the couch. Pinched my hands in a few places until I winced and yelped. “That hurts, ok, that will tell me where to place the pins” Duh! That hurts because you pinched me.
He rolled my trousers up.
I got a pin in each calf, and one lower down each leg. He stuck one in my forehead, one at the top of my head, and four in my stomach.
For those considering acupuncture and wondering if it hurts, it does and it doesn’t. He put them in really fast and they are very small so some pins stung a bit, but not like you’d imagine a pin sticking in you would feel. A few sent a twinge down a nerve, which at least makes you think he’s hit a sweet spot and knows what he is doing. Apparently if it hurts it shows there was a blockage, or something and that will subside as the acupuncture starts to fix you. I know! Look at my technical terms.
As he was putting them in I did panic a bit and the flight impulse kicked in, all I could think was “I’ve changed my mind I want to get out”. But as I always get this half way through a bikini wax, or extreme haircut, I knew how to get over the sensation and took some deep breaths until it subsided.
I then had to lie there for bloody ages, at least half an hour without doing anything. He was sitting at his desk at the end of the bed, I couldn’t see him but was very aware that he was just there which made it difficult to relax, occasionally he’d ask me a question. Whatever I answered would prompt a “hmmm” or a “hm”, what’s good, what’s bad?
Then he strolled over and started flicking and pushing the pins on my leg. The sensations were bizarre at one point the movement of the pin in my calf manifested itself as an electric shock in the sole of my foot. When he was fiddling with the pins he’d ask me questions if I flinched, “Did I feel a stabbing sensation or a throbbing?” I felt like I do at the optician when they ask if the black spot is clearer on the red or the green, like through my varying my answers they can tell I'm not really sure and just making up an answer. "Ha! There is no way that could throb twice and and then stab, don't lie to me bitch".
He got a bit chattier towards the end I had the nerve to ask him what he saw in my tongue, did it look healthy? It wasn’t bad but, he said, that it gives him an indication of what he should be concentrating on. Darn I thought I had a nice plump, red tongue and let’s face it, I was fishing for a compliment.
He told me that this year he had helped 5 couples conceive. Including one couple with the man having "poor" sperm and the woman had been told she had to undergo an operation, the doc had said she didn’t have a chance without the op. They came to him and she is now two months pregnant. But of course didn’t tell me how many had come to him is that 5 out of 5, or 5 out of 100?
He asked me to come back on a weekly basis and that I’ll know when it is working because my periods will become regular and I won’t get any pains.
I’ll let you know how it goes.