in which I share a cup with Gwyneth Paltrow

I have a Very Big Birthday coming up in  two months.  REALLY BIG.

As if to celebrate that fact, my body has started to disintegrate. I have this twingey thing in my knee, and then there’s that little hitch in my hip, and my neck sounds like there are cornflakes in it. Plus I have a shoulder thing.  I don’t know if years of waitressing, back in the twentieth century, have finally exacted their toll, or if I hurt myself doing something stupid, like exercising, but my shoulder has been out of whack for almost a year.

I went to an orthopedist and we did the whole healing-by-technology thing: MRI, Xray, electro-stim.  The shoulder got better . . . but it didn’t get fixed.  But now, with that big birthday looming in front of me, I decided that dammit, I don’t want to take a crunchy stiff shoulder into my next half century, so I went to an acupuncturist.

I’ve never been to an acupuncturist before, not out of any sense of doubt but because I am a freaking coward and so why would I deliberately choose to have someone stick needles into my flesh?

I walked into the office and saw these on the little table:


Well, I thought to myself, I’m here for the needles. Not the glass cup flambé.

Wrong. Before I could say “gwyneth paltrow,” the doctor had a wad of flaming cotton waving way too close to my hair, thank you very much. Like a magician, she waved the flame, then did a press, twist, and pop with about ten little glass jars, all along my shoulder and collarbone.  “Thousands of years old, this cupping practice,” she said. “Dries out humidity in the muscle. But don’t worry,” – press, twist, pop – “I’m not doing it for long enough to leave marks.”

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Humidity in the muscles? Sounds dangerously close to the Elizabethean idea of each body being composed of four humors (sanguine, choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic), but I didn’t want to argue with someone holding fire so close to my head.

Then the needles came out. I expected needles in my right shoulder because that’s the shoulder with the problem.

Wrong again.

The needles were carefully stuck along my eyebrows, on both sides.

And as for those people who told me “don’t worry, the needles don’t hurt” … wrong again.

Ouch. And ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch.  One ouch per needle stuck along my eye socket. I could see the needles in my peripheral vision, waving slightly, like whiskers or oddly placed tentacles. It’s not a look I recommend.

Those needles went out and another set went in on my left knee and left calf, which are still really marked up from the horrible fall I took this summer.  The doctor tsk-tsked at my injuries. “You are very active,” she said. I think perhaps she meant that I should cease and desist from all forms of exercise, advice that I’d be glad to take except then my incipient insomnia would come roaring back, I’d stop sleeping, become even grumpier with my children than I already am, take up drinking in order to help myself sleep, give myself a headache, and the entire grumpy cycle would start again.  So I will have to keep exercising in order to prevent verbal child-abuse and alcoholism.

Here’s the thing: when a needle goes into my left calf? It sends stabbing pains up and down my leg.  “Yes, that’s an old injury you have,” said the doctor, noticing my white-knuckled clutch on the edge of the table. “It’s going to take a while for the pain to go away.”

Oh goody.

I wish I could say that after my session with needles and cups, which  sounds more like I went to a tarot reading than a doctor,  I went off to play three sets of tennis with no problem.

Not exactly.  The shoulder feels better but still makes a whole variety of odd noises as I move; clearly it’s going to be a while before I’m ready to challenge Nadal on the court (like, um, never).

In the meantime, though, I’m feeling quite goop-y in my use of alternative medicine and have a strange desire to re-name my children after pieces of fruit and old testament prophets.  I think maybe the needles along my eye socket went into my frontal lobe.


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6 Responses to in which I share a cup with Gwyneth Paltrow

  1. Arnebya November 8, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    I really want to try the needles. I need to try the needles, I do. But, um, I think I’ll just hang on to my humidity. It ain’t hurtin’ nobody.
    Arnebya recently posted..The MathsMy Profile

  2. jamie@southmainmuse November 9, 2013 at 3:56 am #

    Well, for me the dread of turning 50 was much worse than the other side. Which I have been living in since July. It’s hard. No doubt. My running partner is 42. And for the first time, I really feel winded at times with her. In the back of my mind is — you are 50 now. That’s why she has more strength than you. Not to mention my bad knee. No. I haven’t made peace with it completely, but I am a bit more comfortable. Or less uncomfortable then I was this spring. It will be okay. I think.
    jamie@southmainmuse recently posted..Doing more than cramming a couple of cans in my son’s bookbag.My Profile

  3. Robbie November 9, 2013 at 6:06 am #

    You are very brave….
    Robbie recently posted..When She Was LittleMy Profile

  4. Stacie November 9, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    I’ve got the big 5-0 in early December! I think acupuncture works but takes multiple sessions. Not so sure about the cupping…
    Stacie recently posted..Comment on Google Me Q313 by zoeMy Profile

  5. Michelle Longo December 28, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    I love acupuncture. Seriously LOVE it. It did wonders for my headaches and my neck/shoulder/arm pain. I also have done cupping, but not as much. And cupping with bleeding from the back of my neck which sounded utterly disturbing but cured my three week old sore throat. I was going weekly for about a year, but then I had to stop and I miss it so much. You made me want to go back though.

    Also, there’s a spot on my calf that I just cannot deal with. And the toes. I can do with out the toe needles.
    Michelle Longo recently posted..Orange Is The New Identity Theft.My Profile


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