Jeff on the 7 Day Acupuncture Challange

Jeff in his favorite chair.

Day Zero: Sunday, March 20th

We’re about to roll out the unlimited week special and I was thinking about all the patients who’d benefit from daily acu for a week, and after I ran through a sizable register, I realized I was a great candidate myself. I’m the most sad/angry insomniac with chronic pain I know. That’s how I got into this whole acupuncture gig in the first place. So, I signed up for a week of daily acupuncture. I’m considering it an acupuncture challenge. I will be the serene-ist!

So far the most challenging part was scheduling. Having two young kids, working full time, married to someone working full time, any kind of freedom or self-care comes at a premium. I ended up scheduling all my appointments ahead of time because I know I won’t follow through with it unless my appointments are already booked. Also, I’m too frugal to NOT show up and have to pay OAP the $20 no show fee. 


Day One: Monday, March 21st. 2:10 pm. Appointment with Kelsey

I asked Kelsey to treat my chronic left leg injury, my new right hand injury, the old insomnia, sadness, and anger. My hand injury had been feeling better since I saw Deidre for massage last Saturday, but my left leg was still very irritated. I managed to doze heavily during the treatment which is unusual for me. Sometimes I think that I’m not ‘good’ at getting acupuncture (even though I’m fairly decent at giving it), because I don’t pass out like other people. I know that there are other restless souls like me out there who can’t sleep in the clinic or at home. In any case, with this treatment, I lost about 5 minutes. It’s probably because the music was shut off. I wish we could play jazz or classical, but I know some people might find that to be just as offensive as I find our beige new age music to be repugnant. 


Day Two: Tuesday, March 22nd. 9 am. Appointment with Kelsey

I asked Kelsey to treat all the same things again. I am much less angry, but still sad especially after a heavy conversation with my aunt last night. The world just doesn’t let up. My hand still hurts a lot, probably from using it to perform so much acupuncture. My left leg is feeling better. I tested it out this morning while walking my son to school. It was a sunshine filled balmy day. He was skipping ahead of me, loving life and said to me, “Daddy, why don’t you skip with me?” 

“It’s tiring and I’m tired,” I replied.

“You should skip with me. It will make you happy,” he said, and he was right. Even with some seriously joyful skipping down Oakland Avenue, my leg didn’t hurt. 

It was hard to relax this morning right after I drank a bunch of coffee, but it was nice to have a break in the day. For part of the treatment I meditated and was generally mindful of my state of being. For the rest I did a mental inventory of everything I have going on and what I need to do and when. 

I tried to do a drop in appointment to see Rob the Chiropractor down the street for an adjustment, but I must have gotten his hours wrong, because he wasn’t there. He’s helped me with my left leg pain before. I guess I’ll just stick (pun intended) with the acupuncture.


Day Three: Wednesday, March 23rd. 10am. Appointment with Dawn

My appointment was initially scheduled for 9:10 am but I had to push my appointment back since my car broke down this morning and threw a wrench in my plans for the whole day. I’m proud of myself just for making it in any way. Mood wise, I was much less irritated, which is saying something since I’m still not sleeping well and my car breaking down is something that usually triggers some serious rage and frustration. This is why I have a Toyota Corolla; those things are never supposed to break down. I told Dawn all my troubles and woes and she hooked me up with 30 needles. I didn’t notice her putting in that many. It wasn’t until I heard her counting them as she pulled them out at the end of my treatment that I realized how many she used. 

It was hard to relax because I was ruminating about my car troubles and how that was going to shape the rest of my week. I tried to drink less coffee before this particular treatment, so I could relax more, but that didn’t work out. I tried to spend some of the time just being generally mindful of my state of being, but that state was agitation, so it didn’t work out either. Oh well. Thankfully, I get to try again tomorrow.


Day Four. Thursday, March 24th. 2:10 pm. Appointment with Dawn

I’m starting to feel much better. My left leg doesn’t hurt nearly as much. I slept pretty well last night, but I’m not sure if that is because I was so exhausted from not sleeping well for so many weeks, or if the acupuncture is beginning to work for my insomnia. TIme will tell. 

My mood has improved. I’m not as driven by frustration and anger, which is nice. My pace in life is slower. I’m literally stopping and smelling the flowers: mostly the jasmine and wisteria. Usually all the wisteria blooming triggers my allergies, but somehow I’ve been fine. 

I know that sometimes it’s hard to tell if the acupuncture is working. Sometimes there’s no shift in the concrete rubrics for evaluating progress. There’s just this overall feeling of betterness. The way my son (who likes acupuncture more than any other kid I’ve come across) describes it, “It’s like acupuncture filters you. Like it pulls out all the bad stuff you didn’t know was there.”

My treatment with Dawn was very relaxing. It probably helped that the music was off again. I think she did most of the same points as yesterday. I’m not really paying attention to the point selection. I don’t really know if acupuncturists pay attention to that when they get treatments. I used to, but these days, I’m just happy for someone else to drive the treatment while I close my eyes and go for a ride. 


Day Five, Friday, March 25th, 2:20 pm, Appointment with Dawn

Today, Katy is off from work and the kids are out of school, so it feels like the weekend. We went for a decent hike through Redwood Regional Park, and, in addition to it being a beautiful spring morning with copious wildflowers, my left leg didn’t hurt. It was only a tiny bit sore toward the end of the hike. 

My sleep is only marginally better. I’m falling asleep a little earlier and was able to sleep in until 7 am which is good for me. I was up for a while at 3 am again, for no apparent reason. Sometimes I think we should open the clinic at 3 am for all the insomniacs to come in and get needled. 

Today, my son insisted on coming with me to get acupuncture. We found two chairs next to each other on either side of the stereo. It’s the first time he has gotten an acupuncture treatment in the new clinic. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve had one of my kids getting acupuncture in the clinic since the pandemic started. Clearly, something has shifted. Even though we were both silent for the duration of the treatment, it was just nice to know he was there and to send him good vibes and love from the next chair. He and I have spent so much time together, through the trials and tribulations of school closures and partial closures, I feel we are particularly bonded. I see family members come in together frequently and it’s always sweet to see. It’s great to experience it again.

Dawn took good care of my son. Sometimes it’s a little intimidating to treat a kid when you know the parent is sitting right there, perhaps watching you. But I wasn’t watching. My son loves acupuncture so much. I was just happy to finally have a break from being his acupuncturist and to just be only his dad for once. 


Day Six, Saturday March 26th. 2:40 pm appointment with Kelsey

Waking up today, I felt pretty darn good. It helps that it’s Saturday and we don’t have many plans. After breakfast, once the kids were occupied, Katy and I did some yoga and conditions were perfect. I applied some of the CBD balm I had gotten from Whitney at our sister clinic, Sacramento Acupuncture Project, to my left leg and it took the spice out of general aches and pains. I put on one of my favorite yoga records, Deradoorian, Find the Sun, and brewed a nice pot of Kenyan coffee roasted by AJ at the Conservatory of Coffees, Teas, and Cocoa. My right hand hurt only when I was doing the side plank pose on the right side. While I felt all my aches and pains,  I didn’t feel broken in the way I have been, and I can only blame that on the copious amounts of acupuncture I’ve been getting. 

My treatment with Kelsey was great, but it’s a little crowded on Saturday. When I came in, there were only two chairs to choose from. Luckily, one of them was my second favorite chair. If the tops of the blinds on the street facing windows are open a crack, you can see the trees and sky. When I wasn’t sleeping or dozing, I was gazing out the window and watching the wind and the birds.


Day Seven, Sunday, March 27th, 11 am appointment with Dawn

I’m very relaxed. I would say that I’m even vacation level relaxed, or falling asleep in a hot tub relaxed, or taking a nap on the beach relaxed; and, it feels good. The cries of my daily aches and pains have subsided to a dull and distant roar. I slept well again last night. The third night in a row. Is this what rested people feel like? Because it feels amazing!

Katy and I agreed that we’d have a very chill day with no activities. Somehow, the kids don’t have any activities planned for today. The only thing on my list to do is to show up for my acupuncture appointment. The only task I want to accomplish is to make a carrot cake, and only because I want to experience the sheer pleasure of eating some. 

I was Dawn’s first appointment today, which means I got my favorite chair in the clinic. We were also able to talk in real voices, since there was no one else there, and we were able to really kibitz, since this is the 4th treatment I’ve gotten from Dawn this week and she remembers exactly what I’m working on. I didn’t have to explain any of my health concerns. As always, she deftly slung 20 needles into all my spots and I quickly fell into a vibrant stupor.

The only downside was that the beige, new age music was kind of loud. Fortunately, I was able to block it out since I have “Under Pressure” stuck in my mind. But not the classic David Bowie and Queen version, but the cover by Willie Nelson and Karen O., which, I feel, better encompasses the general heartbreak of our time. 

In the song, there’s a line that goes something like, ‘Love dares you to change the way we are caring about ourselves.’ We’ve all been under pressure for a long time now. By changing the way I was taking care of myself, by getting daily acupuncture, I feel some of that pressure was relieved. I feel a little more at ease, a better version of myself. Subsequently, I will be better able to bring that change to my community when I go back to work tomorrow. I’m hoping to find others who are daring to change the way they are taking care of themselves. 

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