Acupuncture v2

My shoulder is turning into an ongoing medical experiment. There are too many previous blog posts to link to, so I won’t do that. I’ve been pretty open about how the damn thing is rotting to the core and nothing shows any hope of saving it. I did a round of physical therapy at one hospital (limited success), another round of physical therapy at another hospital (less success). I’ve taken meds (against my wishes), gotten two x-rays, diligently done exercises, stopped playing music, and tried my best to sleep only on my right side. Evil is winning over good so far.

I’ve stopped short of doing some things my doctors have recommended. I don’t want to do the cortisone injection, because it sounds like it’s more about pain relief than a cure. I don’t want to get an MRI because it’s expensive. So I haven’t gotten a conclusive diagnosis. Rotator cuff strain seems the most likely, as three different doctors have mentioned it. Bursitis is also a likely cause. The pain has shifted and evolved somewhat. The epicenter remains at a small, tender point on the front of my left shoulder. But I’ve got a host of other ailments: muscle strain from compensating, neck pain, nerve problems in the left elbow, and occasional tingling in the last two fingers of that hand. Most of the doctors and therapists say most of these things are probably not related. My body gives me a different message. I can feel something shifting around in there—muscles or tendons or whatever, swimming around, clicking, fighting for space. When I feel that, I feel it in my fingers, and I feel it in my neck. I’m not paranoid; it’s all connected.

So the new adventure in treatments is acupuncture. I’ve done a bizarre version of it before, but nothing happened. This time I wanted to go someplace with some reputation. Dong-eui Hospital has an Oriental Medicine center, which is offered with English translation. So I decided to give this a shot today. I got my blood pressure tested (110/70), met with the doctor, and then sat on a table. He showed me the needles. I, being a wimp, asked if it hurts. “Oh yes,” he said, “we have at least two or three deaths a day.” Ha ha, I laughed. Very funny.

He walked around to my left side, talking to me, and tapped my shoulder casually with the first needle. No pain, no problem. Then he did another, and I’m thinking, this is easy. Then he went in with a third, at a spot far down on the back of my shoulder, near the shoulder blade. A jolt went through me like nothing I’ve felt before. The weird thing that came to mind is that it felt like a sound reverberating around my body, but if the sound were a form of pissed off electrical energy out for revenge. It was as if this jolt, at light speed, hit my right side, then settled somewhere in my midsection. Something shuddered, my lungs or my heart, I’m not sure. I gasped from the shock and felt for a moment like I was going to fall over. He did this weird kind of vocal “coo” like I was a baby who just spit up some milk. And then he drove the damned thing further in, sending these waves of… something… inside my body.

This interplay of benign pokes with the occasional shocking one went on for the next 10 minutes or so. Then his nurse hooked the needles up to a machine and sent some voltage into me. My upper shoulder twitched aggressively. “Is this normal?” I asked. He told me it should feel weird but not hurt. I told him that this was the case. Then he left me and my quivering body alone for the next 15 minutes. A nurse came, detached the metal and electronics from my body and that was that.

The doctor gave me an exercise to try and then asked me: “Do you still feel the pain?” I thought about it. “Well, the pain seems to be better (I thought, unsure), but I feel a little stiff.” He told me to do the exercises and come back Thursday for my next session.

So here we are, in the next round of treatment. The thing I like about the idea of acupuncture is that it’s not a cure, but it helps the body cure itself. In theory, anyway. If it works, great. If not, I’m on to harder drugs, an MRI, and possibly, last on the list, surgery. I’ll give nature a shot at redemption, and save the magnetic resonance and scalpels for when I’m truly desperate.

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2 Responses to “Acupuncture v2”

  1. Eee, ow, ooh, ooooh, oh, ouch, ohh!

  2. Cooool….

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