That Time I Decided To Try Out Chinese Medicine…

The office building where the Eastern Doctor’s office was located

My back has been bothering me since this past Monday and hadn’t show any signs of getting better on its own. I could barely bend over and sitting down even felt like a chore. Sleeping, while possible, involved me waking up from searing back pain each time I changed positions. All of this has made work extremely unpleasant (my poor kinder kids having to put up with grumpy Sydney Teacher!). Anyway, my awesome co-worker Julie suggested that I go to an “Eastern” doctor in a nearby neighborhood– one that might be able to fix my back before I resort to more drastic measures like an MRI…

So she dropped me off at this little clinic that smelled like roots and stale herbs. I handed the receptionist my Alien Registration Card and told her my back hurt. Pretty soon the doctor led me to an office that looked like a mix between New Age Medicine Man and a middle school science classroom from the 1970s. Between broken English and a back prodding, the doctor was able to come up with a treatment plan…

The inside of the doctor’s office

He led me to a little room that had a curtain for a door. He instructed me to lie on the cot, face up, with my back on a heated pillow and a heat lamp directed at my belly. “Wait ten minutes.” So far so good, I thought (prematurely). The doctor came back and then began to dig his fingers into my stomach– he saw me cringing and said, “That hurts.” Yep. That does. He then took some acupuncture needles and put four of them in my stomach where he had been working. And while they were in me, he wiggled them about… ouch. He instructed me to turn over and after I did he pulled my shirt up and my skirt and panties down to make my lower back a better workspace. He began pressing his fingers into my back muscles and spine to pinpoint where the pain was. After confirming the locations, he put sponge-stuffed suction cups onto my back and turned on a suction machine. This made my back feel strange and tingly– like little shocks to my muscles. He told me to wait ten more minutes and then he closed the curtain and left me bare-assed and suction-y in the cubicle. After a while an aide came to turn off the machine and remove the cups from my back. She pulled down my left sock and pulled up the left leg on my leggings. Just picture it: me, on a cot, with shirt up, ass exposed, and half of my left calf  and heel exposed. Ahh! I was beginning to get worried… I had no idea what was next and I couldn’t speak enough Korean to ask.

The doctor and aide came back with a kit of sorts that contained needles and an acupuncture gun. First they shot the needles into my ankle and calf. And let me tell you, that. did. not. feel. good. Then the doctor shot needles into various locations in my back– about 10 needles I think. Each time he put one in, he wiggled it around a bit for a reason unbeknownst to me (I need to look it up but will have to do so later). Then he shot one final needle into the side of my right hand and wiggled it. This, just like the ankle and calf shots, was exceptionally unpleasant. The metal needles have little coiled receptors on the tops of them and before the doctor left the cubicle, he turned on some machine to send current into the needles (this is my best guess). He then left me there to sulk for ten long minutes before coming to remove the needles, wipe me down with hydrogen peroxide, and bandage up my back.

I awkwardly scrambled off of the table when it was all done, quite ready to pull up my skirt. They told me not to drink 소주 (soju) or 맥주 (beer) and asked for me to come back Friday, Saturday and Monday. The procedure only cost ₩9,600 (about $9) and I did feel a bit better after it was all over– but that might just be because I was in such a state of stress during the treatment that my back felt lovely in comparison.

I’ll probably keep my follow up appointments to give the acupuncture and suction cup treatment the old college try. I do feel a bit better now, but this morning my back was still giving me some difficulty. I’ll let you know how it goes. ^^


One response to “That Time I Decided To Try Out Chinese Medicine…

  1. Hey Syd, Interesting story.  Hope your back is getting better.  Something you could try that works for me:  Lie down flat on stomach, then push up your upper body until arms are fully extended, while keeping abdomen, hips and legs on floor.  Then lower back down to flat.   Do 10 reps of this and then get up and walk around.  May repeat cycle multiple times.  This movement will re-align your back and pelvis and take pressure off of the nerves.  Good luck with that – back pain definitly sucks! Hope you feel better soon. Love you, Tim


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