I’ve got my 5th ever acupuncture session today in London. The fact that I’m dabbling with alternative medicine might surprise some of you. But beneath this laddy, beer-swilling exterior is a man crying for help. I’d actually had been suffering muscle tension that the doctor put down to stress. I find that a little laughable, to be honest. There are people who on a daily basis have to worry about saving lives, directing planes to land safely, or running the country. My main daily concern is if I should update my facebook profile photo.
But I do spend a lot of hours hunched over a desk trying to write the next great british sitcom, win an Oscar, write a novel, get on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, so perhaps a lot of it is self-inflicted pressures.
So a couple of months back I decided to head to Soho and find myself an acupuncturist. I decided a Chinese one would probably be best. When China takes over the world I can use this as evidence that I support their culture. I found one of Shaftesbury Avenue that looked reasonable. There was a man in a rather nice suit who waved me in. He introduced me to the Chinese doctor, who was in the middle of eating his lunch. It looked like a number 32.
Old doc apparently didn’t speak much English, so the suit was on hand to translate. I told them my complaints and then the doctor took my pulse. He told me, via his translator, that I had bad circulation and that 6 sessions would probably clear it up. 6 sessions… I hadn’t anticipated that. But, when someone tells you you have bad circulation, and then tells you they have the power to fix it, it’s then quite hard to politely decline and then go on with the rest of your life. They had me over a barrel. I asked if paid now or later. “Pay now” said the doctor, as a command of english suddenly returned to him.
After a hefty transaction they ushered me into a side room and told me to get my top off. The window of the room looked out onto an outside staircase. As I removed my shirt a black builder walked up the stairs and clocked me. A few seconds later I heard him come into the shop, and ask for them to close the blinds in my room, because he’s got builders working outside and they don’t want to see that. “That”?!
A few minutes later I was face down on the treatment table waiting for a total stranger to stick needles in me. I’m not gonna lie, there was a part of me that was thinking “How did I get here? What life choices did I make to end up on this table?” And then the needles went in. It didn’t hurt. Just a little prick. Gag. After about 8 needles had entered me, he stopped and sat in the corner. I could hear him writing something. I imagined it was probably detailed notes on my condition. But it was probably just his dinner order.
He left the room and I tried to relax. It’s not an environment that’s very conducive to letting go. First of all you’ve got needles in your back, and if you move at all you can definitely feel them. Secondly, you’re face down on a table and can’t see anything going on around you. A door slams and you wonder “is he in the room again?” And thirdly, you’re at the mercy of a complete stranger who can’t speak English. Ironically I was finding the experience quite stressful. What if he never comes back? I was relieved when 30 minutes later he returned to take the needles out and give me a massage. For a small man he certainly has very strong hands!
Four sessions in though, I can say I’ve definitely felt a positive effect. I feel a lot more grounded, relaxed and, occasionally, quite healthy. And, so far, all my organs are still present. I think.
I’ve got two treatments left. By Christmas my blood’s not just gonna be circulating smoothly, it’ll be bloody moonwalking.