In addition to the odd bumps on my skin (which, by the way, now look truly awful as they heal from the attack of the freezy thing), I've been feeling not quite right. Not bad, not ill, but annoyed by a weird thing that I'd never have associated with health had not my massage therapy program made me look at Chinese Medicine.
My tongue has felt .... wide ... lately. And upon looking in the mirror, I find that you can see what are sort of tooth marks in the side edges - kind of like this (image from Breaking Muscle.com):
According to that site, a tongue that looks like this is an indication that I'm not using all the nutrients I'm getting.
Also... that wideness, just FEELS weird -- and is more annoying by the day.
So, since I already know that the Western Medicine folks will just look at me funny for waltzing into their offices with a complaint that my tongue feels wide and there are teeth marks in it, I opted to try our local POCA Acupuncture Clinic.
Though I apparently didn't blog about it, I have ever been to a Chinese Medicine Doctor for acupuncture. It was, all in all, a very positive experience. Unfortunately, it was an expensive experience in the absolute. My bank account can't afford to have me dropping $110.00 twice a week. That's not to say that the price was unreasonable: I was in the office receiving treatment for close to an hour, and the doctor came back in every 15 minutes or so to check on me as I rested with my needles in place -- so not so bad compared to Western Medical doctors. Since I'm well aware that acupuncture, like most healthcare things including massage, is a process not a one-time shot, I know that to be most effective I need to go to the acupuncturist more than once to get the best benefit.
Enter POCA. POCA stands for People's Organization of Community Acupuncture. The basic idea is that instead of one acupuncturist seeing one person at a time, s/he sees several people during the same time period, giving each personal attention in a group setting. This means that they can charge much less per session, so folks can actually afford to come for the 6-10 sessions usually required for optimal benefit.
What? you find those 6-10 sessions a bit much? I can see that. After all, you don't go to the doctor for an upper respiratory infection ten times. You go once -- but then the doctor gives you a prescription, and you go home with instructions to take the antibiotic 3 times a day for ten days. How do you feel about taking your antibiotics for 10 days? mildly annoyed because it either has to be with food or on an empty stomach and the three times a day is hard to coordinate with your lifestyle? Sure, but outraged that it goes on for so long? likely not.
So, you go to the acupuncturist with a problem, and s/he says we'll need to administer this treatment twice a week for a month. Sounds pretty similar except that you can't administer the needles to yourself. POCA lets you do that at a rate you can actually afford. (Kind of like health insurance means that you can afford to pay for that antibiotic). POCA, in fact, not only sets the rate at less than half of the local Chinese Doctor, they offer a sliding scale (locally, they ask $15.00 -$35.00 per session, allowing you to pay what you can afford so that you can actually come to all the needed sessions). Both, of course, are less expensive than the Western Medicine doctor's actual rate (before insurance kicks in), and they're less expensive that most folks' Co-Pays these days for a five minute encounter with the doc.
Next --- my actual experience in a Community Acupuncture Clinic.