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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Korean Acupuncture!

Hello, hello!

I have a mild case of carpal tunnel and sometimes I use acupuncture to treat it. I decided to go to an acupuncturist here, in Korea. There is an international clinic near where I live in Itaewon and there is an acupuncturist there. So I traveled over there to check it out.

When I went into the suite, it appeared small but I thought I probably couldn't see the whole room from the doorway. There was noone there so I said "Annyong ha shimnikka". This man came from out of the bathroom and said hello. And it was pretty obvious that he was. . . blind. So I talked to him and he said he was the acupuncturist and it cost 20 grand ($20) for a 1 hour treatment. I said thank you maybe next time and left.

As I was walking down the hall, I thought, part of the reason I am here in Korea is for the experience. And if this man is a blind acupuncturist, he must have been in business for a long, long time. And it's not like I haven't had painful acupuncture before. So if it hurts I just won't go visit him again. So, what the heck, I may as well give it a try.

So I went back and told him I would love a treatment.

He says, right this way, and I realized the suite was as small as I initially thought. It is only one room and in the corner is a queen sized bed. Ooookkay. The bed had a bright yellow spread on it and he layed a matching yellow towel over a small pillow and then told me to lie down on my back. So I moved to the center of the bed. He asked where my pain was and I said my forearms and wrists and he said ok. He climbed to the end of the bed, got his little tray with his needles and cotton swabs and alcohol, then reached out his hand trying to find me! I finally grabbed his hand and said, "here I am!" He squatted on the bed on his haunches like a frog and prepared to insert the first needle. I cringed just like in the movie theater when the scary music starts to play. But, viola, I didn't feel a thing! So he placed a bunch of needles on my arm and shoulder. And then he moved down to my feet on the bed. . . and stayed there!

Now, as some of you may know, one of my best friends, Michelle, is an acupuncturist. She has a wonderful practice in Berkeley and I have been on her table many a time. At this point, I have got to do a comparison between Michelle's practice and the blind guys practice.

Michelle: beautiful room full of ambiance. There are soft colors and paintings on the wall and muted lighting.
Blind guy: one room studio full of clutter.

Michelle: nice massage table for you to lay on that has buckwheat pillows for your head.
Blind guy: queen size mattress with small lumpy towel covered pillow.

Michelle: soothing, calming instrumental music
Blind guy: korean talk show with lots of piped in laughter

Then, once Michelle puts the needles in, she covers your eyes with a small lavender pillow and leaves you for about 45 minutes to chill and fall into a restful sleep. My blind guy stayed, squatting like a frog, at the end of the mattress! I thought, if he stays there for 45 minutes I am going to scream! Luckily, he only left the needles in for about 20 minutes. Even though I hate conversation when I am receiving any kind of treatment, I decided I had better talk to him to take my mind off the awkward circumstances. I was trying to find out how long he had been an acupuncturist, but he would just say, "oh, long, long time!" and he asked me if I had ever heard of Korean acupuncture before because it was very, very famous.

Then, thankfully, he removed the needles and started the massage. Of course, at the word, MASSAGE, I pictured like a nice swedish rubbing motion or something similar. Of course that wasn't the case. He grabbed my shoulder and was like kneading so hard my whole body was shaking back and forth, back and forth. I thought, Oooookkkay. It didn't hurt, didn't feel good either! But, he was finally finished and I paid him and left.

Hey, I'm here for the experience and you can't get any better than a blind acupuncturist for a new experience!

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