I had acupuncture for the first time today. I will describe it.
The room was a usual slightly darkened, narrow room with a massage table- a narrow, cushioned table not unlike that in a doctor’s surgery, but with a hole where one puts one’s face and a donut-shaped gel cushion encircling it, with a disposable tissue cover. There was a folded, dark blue towel at the foot end. The masseur motioned for me to get changed. I put my bag in the drawer under the bed, removed my white undershirt, conscious of the fact that I don’t wear a bra, kicked off my pointy leather shoes and dress socks, undid my belt, removed my neat, pleated dress trousers and put them all in the drawer before sliding it, soundlessly in. I lay down on the massage table, face down.
The masseur came in. He covered the lower half of my body with the towel and put some scented, cooling oil with menthol and wintergreen onto my bare back. He placed my feet on a rolled up towel. His hands were strong, soft and warm. He did big sweeps with his hands and the edges of his forearms, pushing and separating the muscles of my back away from each other. First the right side, then the left. My tight, sore muscles craved this massage. He commented on how tight my muscles felt. I chuckled. They were.
Massage parlours- especially Chinese ones- always have some sort of wordless, corny piano music. At one point, Richard Clayderman’s “Pour Adeline” played, overwrought. Parallel sixths in the right hand, arpeggios in the left. A piece of music I remember learning from a family friend’s daughter, who was 4 or 5 years older than me. Cheesy, but listenable.
Eventually, I was ready for the acupuncture. He swiped swatches of my back, then neck, then calves, then close to my ankles with an alcohol swab (I think). He left the room briefly. He came back in. Each spot that was swabbed, a quick flick then the needles went in. How it felt was a little different to that. More like a flick, then not pain but a curious sensation that was a little sore but often tingled and sent sensations down into my feet. Like having one’s ears licked during sex, but without the erotic feelings. It felt nice! He asked a couple of times whether I was going ok and I said it felt great. A couple of times, I flinched, not due to pain but due to the tingly sensation that tickled a little. Sometimes I didn’t even feel the needles at all, they were so fine.
A warmth (a lamp?) started to cover my exposed back and legs. And then after about half a minute I could feel twitches in my back around the needles. It was electrical stimulation, said the masseur and he told me to relax and that he would be back. One of the right lower back needles hurt a bit, but it was maybe 2/10, a rough stinging feeling. I got steadily more and more relaxed while I let my mind wander over various topics. The pain and discomfort and even tingling completely subsided even though I was aware of the twitching. I needed to adjust the position of my head cushion as my chin was resting at times on the hard wood underneath. A couple of times I crossed my legs just for something different. The second of those times I felt like I had dislodged one of the needles, in the upper calf and warily put my legs back.
At a couple of points I wasn’t sure if the masseur had forgotten me or was coming back. I did not want to open my eyes and look at my surroundings. Eventually an alarm went off and the warmth of the lamp started to fade. A few minutes later (I was feeling nervous) the masseur went back in. He asked me how I was doing, then swiftly removed each needle. He then gave me more massage - and it was clear that my back was less tense - said I should return next week for more massage and that was it
When I got up I had a throbbing headache from sitting up and dizziness. I had to lie down again for a few minutes. I was anxious of the time so I got dressed and stepped out. Still feeling dizzy, with a headache, I asked if I could sit down and have a glass of water. I gulped down a couple. Slowly the feeling subsided over the next hour or so. I still had a floating feeling of relaxation, vibrancy and detachment.