I woke up this morning in considerable pain. After several days of EWCM in industrial meringue-making quantities and so on and so forth, Satsuma decided to throw an epic tantrum, and my right-hand lower abdomen was noticeably swollen. Ow. Ow ow ow ow. Washed thoroughly and shaved my legs. Put on my loosest trousers. Ow. Limped into town. Arrived at Snazzy Clinic ludicrously early, so dragged my belly across the road for a coffee. Owie. A nice young man gave up his seat for me. Christ. That bad. Ow ow ow. Bloody ovary.

In the Snazzy Clinic, I was taken charge of by a calm, pleasant woman with extremely nice earrings, who led me to a nice white room and started right in on the important questions, such as, where abouts in your cycle are you? And I had to say, I might be ovulating, but, then again, I might not be, as my body likes to pull the yes I did! no I didn’t! stunt as often as possible. Which made me feel a little weird. Most medical (alternative or otherwise) people I speak to seem to think it bizarre and deluded of me, to know when I actually ovulate. But Nice Earrings nodded calmly and made a sensible remark about PCOS. And then she had me strip to my bra and knickers (black lace. Was that a good choice for acupuncture, or in poor taste? Does it change anything if I point out they’re my only matching set? No? How about if I point out they’re not that lacy?) and lie on the couch with a blanket over me. She then felt my pulse several times in both wrists. Now, my pulse is very hard to find unless I’ve just run up six flights of stairs (this is important information). Nice Earrings commented on the weakness of said pulse. I joked that most doctors assume I must be dead. Nice Earrings laughed. Good. I had a blockage, she said. Quite a severe one. We needed to unblock me.

Then I was sat on a stool, leaning against the couch, and Nice Earrings drew dots all over my back in black pen, as markers for the needles. This back treatment being, it would seem, the acupuncturist version of attacking the drain with bleach and a plunger. And having pricked me out (that’s an embroidery term, by the way. You’d copy patterns out by ‘pricking’ them through the original and into the new fabric, to leave marks, also, it’s a metaphor Shakespeare liked, so I’m keeping it), she actually stuck the needles in.

It didn’t hurt.

I’m serious. I barely felt a single one, and even then I merely felt the pressure of the little tube containing the needle being pressed against my skin to guide the point in. I sat there leaning on the couch, and she sat behind me, allegedly watching the skin-reddening around each needle fade, which would indicate it had done its job and could be removed. We talked about, funnily enough, Shakespeare. After a few minutes, one particular needle did infact start to itch and sting, and I mentioned it, and she touched my back right next to it – this one? Yes, that one. She said hmmm, and took that one out last. It was by no means unbearable.

Then she had me lie down again and took my pulse. It failed to satisfy her, so she said, a little shyly, bless her, that we would have to do a ‘certain treatment’, had Mr Snazzy mentioned it? I reassured her that Mr Snazzy had mentioned it and I was prepared. This was, after all, the thorough drain-rodding of acupunture. I took my knickers off. She covered every possible inch of me in blankets, but, you understand, I was still lying on my back with my legs apart letting yet another complete stranger admire my topiary, and then she had to press down on my perineum to get the right angle for the needle, and I felt all ‘she’s looking at my anus, for God’s sake’, and then I had to tell her when the needle started ‘aching and pulling’, which made no sense until it did, luckily in a few seconds, and she took the needle away and washed her hands.


Not that it was over, as I also got a needle in the coccyx. At least I got to lie on my side with my legs firmly together for that one. And one in the chin, and one in the gum between the front teeth. In each case, the needle stayed in until I noticed the achey, prickly, pulling sensation (again, not too unpleasant. Just, noticeable). And then she felt my pulse again and declared herself pleased.

And to finish, she did moxibustion on my chest and wrist. This required me to be very alert and tell her the infinitesimal instant I felt heat, so she could whisk the blob of burning incense-like herb off the acupuncture point before it burnt me. I am not burnt, it was fine, but not hugely relaxing. But then, I don’t think Five Element Acupuncture is supposed to be relaxing in the same way traditional acupuncture is. The treatment does take an hour, but it’s an hour of moving about and being briskly stabbed here and there and the needles left in just a little while or taken out immediately, rather than being pin-cushioned and left lying in silence for the rest of the session.

And then I put my clothes back on, booked next week’s appointment, and trotted off to work. Feeling, I don’t know. Brisk. Jolly. Satsuma had even hushed up, deflated, and was merely being tender.

Several hours later, I went to the loo, and on wiping, saw blood. I sat for several minutes looking at the toilet paper and thinking ‘what the hell….?’. Well, you would, wouldn’t you? Further mopping revealed it to be mere spotting, which has not recurred. Nevertheless, I repeat, what the hell….? Especially after all that talk about clearing blockages, and my own faint, persistent misgivings about the state of my fallopian tube. What? The? Hell? There, I’m done.

And I have been hunting for my pulse on several occasions today. Each time I found it at once, thumping distinctly away. I swear, normally it takes me ages and a lot of digging to find it. But then, I’d just had it taken eleventy-thousand times by a professional, who thereby indicated to me exactly where it was. But it felt stronger. Then again, I could be imagining that bit. I could have been flustered.


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