written by Cassandra Fernandes for Autumn Bear at autumnbear.com
This week, our guest blogger Cassandra has her first session with Autumn. And here's what she thought:
I’m hot. I don’t mean that I rate an eight on a scale of imagined hotness, or that guys line up to date me. I mean only that my body is hot. That’s what Autumn, my acupuncturist told me during my first session. It naturally generates a lot of damp heat and when I eat food that’s hot (i.e. crustaceans or spicy food), it reacts by giving me a rash on my face. It was one of those things that make sense as soon as you hear it. I have been noticing the rash flare up more whenever I eat shrimp, or my favorite form of nourishment (Thai food).
It began when I traveled to India last summer. It was for a wedding, and as much as I was looking forward to it, I was also not looking forward to being questioned about my marital status by seamstresses and friends of the family I hadn’t seen in over a decade. While I was in fine fettle during the visit itself, I developed a rash as soon as I came back to New York. I barely noticed it at first. It was a formation of small, red bumps on the right side of my face starting below the inner eye lid and spreading toward my ears all across my cheek. I thought maybe I’d been using the wrong face wash, or maybe it was from all the stress of having to obfuscate strangers about my reasons for not being married.
But months passed by and the rash showed no sign of disappearing. You would think that I would have gone to see a doctor about it. I honestly can’t say why I didn’t. It was probably laziness combined with a belief that it’ll be all right, eventually. The eventuality never came. There were times when I’d feel like it was almost gone, but then it would come back with a raging vengeance. I got sick of walking around with a mark on my face. It was almost as if it was the mark for people who don’t know what they’re doing in life. “Look at me,” the rash seemed to say, “I’m here because this woman doesn’t know how to take care of her body.”
When I went for my first acupuncturist’s visit and Autumn asked me what I wanted to work on, the rash was the first thing that came to mind. And when she suggested I stop eating shrimp and spicy food, I nearly cried. Having been a vegetarian until I was nineteen, I don’t really digest meat all that well. If I eat a steak, or even a burger, I could feel it sitting in my stomach for hours afterwards. That, and the scarcity of good, cheap vegetarian food available anywhere ensured that shrimp and spicy food were pretty much the only food I actually enjoyed eating. Plus, they’re easy enough to cook. Spicy shrimp is my favorite thing in the world next to puppies and sunshine. And I had to give them up. Just like that.
I also discussed other things during my visit. In order of least disgusting to most, they were: heart rate, the amount of exercise I get, whether or not I suffer from insomnia, my period and it’s minutiae (length, flow, color etc.), and finally, the (ir)regularity of my bowel movements. I’ve never had this thorough a visit to a medical practitioner. Usually, I’ll go in and cite my cause for being there (flu); the doctor would then give me a prescription for antibiotics. I’d be in and out within fifteen minutes. My first acupuncture session with Autumn was an hour and a half long. Let me repeat that in case you think it was a typo. An hour and a half. It amazed me that there was someone out there who was willing to sit with me for that long and listen to what I had to say.
The session was interesting to say the least. She measured my pulse rates (I wasn't aware that acupuncturists measured the pulse of not only your heart but other organs as well) and made me lie down on one of those adjustable beds you see in massage parlors. Then came the needles. It all felt a lot less strange than it sounds. A fear of needles is, shall we say, universal. That was one of my reservations before I started acupuncture. But I barely felt them. They felt like teeny, tiny mosquito bites. Actually, it’s fairly safe to say that I’ve felt mosquito bites which hurt me more. It was seeing the needles stick out of my body that freaked me out a bit. Like I was one of those realistic looking soon-to-be robots in a futuristic sci-fi movie. It was easy enough to ignore, however, so I took a nap. When it was time to remove the needles, I barely felt them. Autumn is efficient and quick which, I’m discovering, is an important quality in all primary care providers, but especially an acupuncturist. The better your acupuncturist is at her job, the less discomfort you feel.
Like all good events, it ended on a high note. I felt lighter when I jumped off the bed and put my shoes back on. “You’ll sleep better tonight,” she said as I was leaving. I would like that to be true.