written by Cassandra Fernandes for Autumn Bear at autumnbear.com
“What would you like to work on today?” This is the question that Autumn asks all of her patients during every visit. The concept is foreign to me. Just the way the question is phrased, ‘what would YOU like to work on TODAY?’ puts me at ease. Like I’m somewhat in control of what happens to me. And to an extent, I am. It turned out that I wanted to work on my sinuses that day.
Sinuses aren’t something that I thought about much until I entered early adulthood. I started thinking about it when one day, I glanced at my profile in the mirror and saw that my nose had grown. I don’t lie often (not for ethical reasons; I’m just bad at it), so it hadn’t grown like Pinocchio’s. But my nose had gotten fatter and bulbous around the tip, like I was some old drunken man. ‘That’s funny,’ I thought, ‘it seemed fine last night.’ Once I blew my nose, it was back to its original self. I get allergies every time the season changes and occasionally, I get a bad head cold, too. Those are the worst. You can feel the phlegm rising in your chest up to your throat and then, instead of coming out of your nose as it usually does, it bypasses it entirely and moves straight into your head. It stays at the back of your head and every time you breathe or cough, there’s a bang in the back of your head. Like you’re being hit with a frying pan over and over again. Fortunately, I don’t get those often. But when Autumn asked me what I’d like to work on, I thought, ‘hey! how about them sinuses?’
Image courtesy of Michal Marcol
So we worked on them. The first inserted needle was near my right nostril. And...I think sensation is the word I'm looking for. I just felt it very strongly, like I had a bad cold and hadn’t taken antibiotics yet. I was expecting more strong sensations when she inserted another needle on the right side but it never came. “Some days you feel more on your left side and other days it’s the right side,” Autumn said as she inserted my regular assortment of needles (I’ve seen a pattern to my regular insertions: I usually have a couple on my legs, and a few on my pelvis). I couldn’t nap this time.
While in my previous sessions I didn’t feel I could feel the effects of acupuncture during the time (I did feel the insomnia lift off after my first session, but that didn’t happen until after I’d left Autumn’s office), I felt
it this time. The pain near my right nostril didn’t ease up like I thought it would. And even after she’d removed it, I still felt a little bit of throbbing for the next hour or so. And then, and then came the
sneezing. I sneezed as I left Autumn’s office. And then I sneezed periodically over the next few days. I did not have a cold, however. I could just feel myself sneezing to clear my sinuses. I actually went
through two boxes of tissues without once feeling like I was getting sick. This was a new experience for me. But a welcome one, nonetheless. I really did feel that my sinuses were being cleared up.
Image courtesy of Graur Razvan Ionut
Autumn told me that sinusitis too, is a sign of Qi stagnation. It’s also caused by dampness in the liver and spleen and damp heat in the body. I’m starting to see my body as a tropical wasteland: hot, clammy
and full of mucus. But I’m also starting to see these sessions as welcome rain. Something to cool me off and refreshen me.