Last week, before I knew that my IVF was going to be further delayed, I decided that I really should whip myself back into some kind of pre-conception state. So I booked an acupuncture appointment.
I hadn't been punctured since the last failed medical attempt at pregnancy in December (at which time I decided I needed to give my body, and wallet, a break).
I had heard that there were, roughly, two schools of thought when it came to acupuncture. (Excuse my layman's terms here as I try and explain.) One method revolves around filling you up like a pin cushion and leaving you to meditate for half an hour or so. This is the only type of acupuncture I'd had previously and, call me up-tight, but I don't find lying down in a darkened room doing a porcupine impression particularly relaxing. The other type of acupuncture is more frenetic with pins being jabbed in and out throughout the whole session - more like darts. The latter is supposed to be more effective for infertility.
So, when someone I know from work recommended a guy she goes to that uses the short sharp pricks method I booked a session.
It was very different to the previous two guys I've seen. This chap was more like a doctor. Unlike the last bloke who was definitely somewhere firmly on the hippy scale (I have no doubt he smokes something stronger than moxa*) this gentleman wore a shirt and tie and seemed more Doctorial in his manner.
And the questions he asked were different. Previously I've worked out where they were coming from with examinations of my tongue, discussions about my period - length, colour and consistency (yuk) and general health issues. This guy wanted to know about everything from my relationship with my father, to where I'd grown up, what my favourite food was to whether I suffered in the cold.
I found this absolute focus on me a little uncomfortable. But, I reminded myself that he was just doing his job so when he asked about my dog I really shouldn't counter with "And do you have any pets?" (He does, two rescue dogs, but then he swiftly brought the conversation back round to me).
During the two hour session, apart from talking, he held my hand and checked my pulse three times (at the start middle and end of the session) and pronounced himself satisfied that by the end my pulse was rounder and stronger. And he also did a bit of needlework.
He jabbed pins in my back and declared that it was drawing out the bad energy. (I do genuinely think acupuncture is a good and wonderful thing but I find terms like 'bad energy' a little hard to take seriously). Apparently it was just in my lungs and hadn't had a chance to infect the rest of my organs, so he got rid of that pronto. And I did feel a bit more convinced that he might be on to something when the needle that corresponded to my liver stung like hell. Of course it did, the acupuncture was the day after my last miserable doctor's appointment - I'd had a drink the previous night.
For the treatment I had to strip down to my underwear with a thin blanket shielding my dignity. When he put the pins in my back he gently undid my bra strap. For someone who is used, to the point of being blasé, to being penetrated by large medical objects the gesture seemed oddly intimate. Although I didn't feel at any point too uncomfortable - he clearly wasn't doing it for his own gratification.
After the appointment I was exhausted, he warned me I might be, so that helped convince me that it had actually achieved something. He agreed that the delay in IVF meant that I didn't need to come on a weekly basis so I will be seeing him sporadically for the next few months (at which point my bank balance breathed a sigh of relief) until just before IVF when we'll notch it up a gear and book in special appointments around egg collection and implantation time.
So although I've still got a long way to go, it feels good to be doing something positive.
* a little acupuncture joke for you there!