They come in with their cautious complaints:

My wife suggested I try it – she comes here.

…No, not too bad.

If I were to generalize, I’d say that many men don’t have the ashi points,

the ah-ha places, the tender spots which call to the needle,

provide maps, trails down invisible meridian lines on limbs.

Press thumb, press thumbnail, do you feel that?

Let me know if there are any sensitive spots.

There’s no right answer, I always tell them.

Sometimes the signals are very subtle.

And sometimes, regardless of gender,

we’ve so much echo and boom inside

that any additional twinge just doesn’t register.

(Advice to the new acupuncturist:

assume that everyone you meet is carrying chronic pain.

Especially if they don’t tell you.)

But I was speaking about those of us socialized as men.

Who come in with their cautious complaints, their not-too-bads.

How many times do they doze in a room full of strangers

before they consistently notice the tender places on the forearm

where the Hand Taiyin channel calls quietly

to congestion on the Foot Taiyang?

Three or four, usually. They feel more. They stay longer,

sleep deeply, wake up.

Lisa B.
Author: Lisa B.

Lisa prefers fireflies to fireworks, reverts to bluntness in stressful moments, would happily wear legwarmers year-round, and probably wants to be your friend.

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  1. love this…

    made me think of a recent new patient:  very last person coming in at the end of the day with his friend that was being treated, and he said, “can i get treated, too?  i don’t have anything i need help with, but i’ve been wanting to try acupuncture…”

    ten minutes later, the punk had read his chart, came out to do a quick intake… “so what are we working on today?” 

    he said “nothing,” first, then the punk said, “any pain anywhere?” and his answer made me smile all the way at the front desk…  “oh, yeah, well, you know, the low back pain.”

    of course, the low back pain, you know, like people all have, was the implication…  as though he had been saying it so long the words meant nothing….  weren’t related to him or his pain…