I’ve had tension issues in my neck and shoulders for at least five years that I’ve known of (it’s probably more like 10 years). It was brought to my attention five years ago, though, when a friend who is a massage therapist noticed I had knots throughout my neck, shoulders, and upper back. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but as life has progressed, and I’ve had to do more lifting since then (baby, toys and other various items off the floor, moving addresses three times, and exercise) the tension became chronic pain. I’d wake up in the morning with throbbing shoulders and a stiff neck and would have a hard time sitting at the computer for work. By the end of the day, all I wanted was my heating pad to help relieve some of the pain.
I mentioned my pain issues to my mom who, on a hunch, took it upon herself to speak to an acupuncturist she knows through her job. He passed his phone number along, and we set up an appointment to meet.
I was nervous, but also hopeful going in. My father had acupuncture done in the early 2000s due to a chronic low back pain issue he’d been having since at least 1994 that I can recall. There was a time when I was a kid when he couldn’t lift too much weight or turn funny because it’d cause his back to get out of whack and then suddenly he wouldn’t be able to walk. He tried going to a chiropractor for the issue, but that only severely exacerbated the problem (aaaand now you know why I always run when people mention chiropractors). Acupuncture solved the problem and he hasn’t had low back pain since. He dances, runs, lifts weights, does T25…no issues. If he could see such great results, surely I could experience some relief.
My doctor is amazing; accomplished, skilled, personable – all of the things you’d want someone to be if they were shoving needles into you. He told me that the process would involve him finding spots of tension, sticking those knots with the acupuncture needles, then shining a heat lamp on the spot to help the muscles relax even more. He’d let me have a 15 minute “rest” period under the lamps, then come back to see how my body responded. I didn’t like the word needles, but I was desperate to feel better. He also showed them to me beforehand, and that put my mind at ease a bit. Think: Thinnest sewing needle. They’re definitely not as big as the syringe type doctors use.
At the first session, I was nervous and could feel every stick for a split second. The pain didn’t last after that. I even fell asleep on the table under the heat lamp at my first appointment. Upon sitting up at the end of the session, I could immediately feel that the circulation had gotten better in my shoulders. They felt more “sensitive.” The lasting effect, though, was the immense relaxation I felt. Acupuncture forces one to be still – a virtue that I’ve been working on more and more since I retired the machine. Because he’s acquainted with my mother, my doctor knew some of my background and all that’s happened for me in 2016 alone. He told me that it’s great to be an Alpha because you accomplish so much; people can rely on you, you tend to finish what you start with excellence, and you’re marketable as someone who manages time and other resources well. He then also said that Alphas break down more under the weight they carry, most of which being responsibilities, the rest sometimes being the weight of others. Then he told me to slow down. No adult has told me to slow down since I was a teen.
Indeed, I have been moving fast lately, so fast that I’ve missed out on precious time with which to cherish my present. Kennedy will not be my baby girl forever, nor will I be 31 forever. There’s a time to work hard and hustle, and there’s also a time to step back, catch your breath, and reflect. If anyone has earned the right to slow down and reflect, it’s me.
Acupuncture has multiple forms, all taught under Oriental Medicine. Much of the eastern way of life values minimalism, simplicity, and stillness – all attributes I’m working hard to incorporate into my life at this time. Therefore, acupuncture helps me heal an injury while also reinforcing the foundation of my overall objective now, which is to find balance between the extreme and dormant places my life has been in over the last 365 days, and come out the woman I want to be.