It's the first question people have about acupuncture, and I'm no exception. But you gotta do what you gotta do for a story, right? So, putting my fear aside, I booked a consultation with Jerusha DeGroote.
After I provided my medical history—just like any doctor's office—DeGroote asked me several questions about my one complaint, then looked at my tongue and checked my pulse. My yang is deficient, she told me, and my kidney Qi is out of balance. My issue? Depression runs in my family like a big black psychotic and snapping dog.
In a room filled with low light, warm colors and calming music, DeGroot had me lie face up on a massage table. She sterilized the points where she would be inserting needles, in my feet and lower legs, my hands and the very top of my head. Then, one by one, she gently found meridian points and began inserting the acupuncture needles.
For most of the needles, I felt hardly any sensation, just the tiniest pinprick, then nothing. On a few points, I was aware of heat or pressure radiating from the insertion point, but I never felt anything that I considered painful. DeGroote inserted about a dozen needles in all, checking each time with "How is that?" or "Everything OK?" Then she left me alone to rest for about 20 minutes, encouraging me to breathe deeply and relax.
I think I may have dozed off. When DeGroote returned, I could feel my body vibrating slightly everywhere there was a needle. "That's good," she said, explaining that my Qi (or energy) was shifting. She gently removed the needles, which I felt, but it didn't hurt. A couple of the points were itching, which is a normal histamine reaction. I felt light and relaxed, grounded and calm.
The result? The relaxed, calm feeling has stayed with me. I'm alert and light-hearted, and though I'm aware of my emotions, I don't feel overwrought, which is new. I'm accepting my feelings, watching them instead of reacting to them. Sweet.