Stuck in the Middle with a Few…Needles: Part 1 of Treating Pain and Trauma with Acupuncture

I’ve been getting stuck with many needles every week for five months now and I think it’s helping improve my health, although I can say goodbye forever to any clothing that exposes my midriff. Who wants to see a bubble belly embossed with three sets of surgical scars and stained with the blue hues of bruise? I’ve never been one for letting it all hang out, anyway (and I wish folks on this side of fifty wouldn’t let it all hang out, either, but that’s my own issue).

I have written previously about my battle with abdominal pain and how, after two surgeries, I’m stuck with adhesions where my reproductive organs used to be and adhesions have stuck other organs where they shouldn’t be. Yes, my belly is tied up in knots.

The problem is visible if I wear form-fitting clothes so I don’t wear form-fitting clothes. I’ve heard people wonder, “Is she…” and I’ve bitten my tongue so I didn’t shout, “Seriously? Look at these lines on my face! I’m too damn old for a baby bump!”

Sam and David Noted

The whole thing has jolted my self-image and has forced me to admit some painful truths about my vanity, the most painful of which is, well, I have it: I’m vain. I’m supremely self-conscious about my belly, always have been, and now I get to pair it with bald patches on the back of my head. This getting old thing isn’t for wusses.

Anyway, since the end of September I’ve gone weekly to Dr. Li, a gifted and very kind doctor of Chinese medicine and acupuncture. The pattern for inserting the needles changes from week to week as we work on different aspects of what’s wrong with me. In a nutshell, my liver meridian is all messed up. From what I understand, that doesn’t mean my liver is messed up, it just means the energy is blocked along that meridian.

One of my treatments looked like this:


Not pictured are the 8-10 needles in my head. Sorry you have to squint at this photo to see the needles in my legs and feet: I took this photo with my cell phone while lying down. You can imagine how tricky sitting up to get a shot of my legs would have been.

Three treatments back, I nearly hit the ceiling when she inserted a needle just below and behind my ankle bone on the inside of my right foot. It got worse when she also placed needles just below the knee on the inseam of my right leg and needles right where you actually can feel the tight band of scar tissue to the left of my right hip bone. It felt like an electric current zapped through me. My foot spasmed and my back arched and suddenly tears coursed down my cheeks.

Dr. Li said, “That’s good! Cry!”

I cried for ten minutes. I couldn’t stop crying. I also couldn’t explain why I was crying after the pain subsided. Dr. Li said I was releasing negative energy from the area where the scar tissue was being worked on.

That intrigued me. Could we hold in our bodies negative energy from traumatic events or even from our own twisted thinking and could it manifest as something like scar tissue?  I decided to go with that theory. I breathed in, letting my abdomen swell as I inhaled, letting the space expand, for twenty seconds and then I exhaled for twenty seconds. As I exhaled I imagined letting go of all the trauma my abdomen and pelvic area had endured over the years, from the surgeries themselves to the abuse in past relationships to the rape I inhaled love for my body and exhaled negative feelings about my body.

I actually felt movement beneath the needles, similar to the way it feels when a seam is ripped from stretching a garment. Stretch, stretch and then rend. Stretch, stretch and then rend. I imagined my scar tissue ripping apart, breaking up.

The treatment lasted 40 minutes. When it was over, I felt renewed but exhausted. I went home and took a long nap.

I’d like to say the scar tissue all broke up and the pain abated that day, but nothing’s that easy. It’s a process and that was the beginning. The best part was beginning to see how I could let go of my negativity and embrace love for my body and how that itself could be healing.

Stay tuned for more.

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