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Oriental artifacts—a wooden ying yang, a photograph of a monk and a porcelain hand fan—litter the mahogany bookcase on the wall. The opposite wall is covered with laminated posters of the human anatomy, which illustrate numerous acupuncture points. Lying on the cloth-covered massage table in my sweat suit with my hands to my side, I look up at the bronze chime dangling above my head and wonder: Are the needles going to hurt or make me feel better? The acupuncturist checks my pulse on both wrists and a “hmm” every now and then escapes from his mouth.
“Stick your tongue out for me please,” he asks. Confused as to whether or not I’m really supposed to obey, I do so not knowing what, if anything, will be discovered from my tongue. He turns his head at different angles and examines my tongue. Feeling embarrassed I try to remember if I brushed my tongue with my toothbrush before I left the house. There are only two small rectangular windows in the office, so he explains that there is not sufficient light and that maybe he will be able to see the color of my tongue better next time.
While he begins to set out the prepackaged needles and alcohol swabs, I ask, “Can you put one in my head? I think that would feel nice.” He explains that he doesn’t usually do this during a first treatment, but he proceeds to place a needle in the middle of my head. I hear a squish as it penetrates the skin on my forehead, and surprisingly I feel no pain. After all five needles are in place (one in my forehead, one in each wrist and one on the tops of each foot), Dr. Jeffrey Bond leaves me alone in the room for 20 minutes to relax.
As curious as I am, I make sure the coast is clear and carefully sit upright on the table. I hold my hand close to my face, as if I have never seen my hand before, and I stare at the needle protruding from my skin. Then I look at my reflection in the full-length mirror across from me to see the needle in my head—the only thing I could think was, “this is pretty cool”. I slowly and cautiously lay back down. I take a couple of deep breaths and try to ease my excitement. My mind begins to remember why I’m here in the first place. Writing deadlines, expenses, relationship issues, etc. I become panic stricken. I take a couple more deep breaths and close my eyes and try to relax before Dr. Bond returns to take my needles out...