The Non-Politics of Community Acupuncture


Happy Election Day everyday. By now I hope everyone has voted or has already allocated a part of today to go to the polls. Yesterday, I was half listening to an NPR commentator say “if you are lucky and you live in Iowa or New Hampshire, and you have an early caucus or primary, you have been following the candidates for a long time now.” Well, luckily I live in New Hampshire and I have been here long enough now to experience a New Hampshire Primary. By the time it was over I was so happy to go back to work after casting my ballot where it was busy, but quiet, not to mention peaceful.


I found out quickly, that by dressing as a bride and marrying a corporation, an average voter can get a lot of media attention. I was not prepared for this, but the ceremony with Vermin Supreme dressed as Uncle Sam, the officiate is floating around You Tube. A friend of mine nearly got himself arrested for disturbing the peace at a Newt Gingrich town hall, and another friend DID get arrested when he tried to sneak into the Capital Arts Center before a Republican debate. We had a lot of people in and out of out tiny apartment, blocks from the major media headquaters and (day time only) Occupy encampment. So ya, after that crazy weekend, I just wanted to work, and treat people, and not care about who they voted for and where they lean politically. I usually nod and smile when one of favorite Saturday morning walk-ins tells me how much he likes Mike Huckabee, and quickly change the subject to his dogs and good places to go hiking. When you leave behind Peter, Felice, Marilyn, the some alphabet orgs, the FPD, then day to day doings of community acupuncture are non-partisan as far as our patients are concerned.


So I will back up to Saturday night at Saint Anslem College, where many a political debate is held in New Hampshire. That is where my husband and I got into it with a Newt Gingrich staffer. Before her comment to us, it was actually turning into a really great party. Occupiers accompanied by The Leftist Marching Band, brought a certain sense of festivity to the “free speech zone” we were corralled into with the GOP supporters. I ran into a patient and good friend of MAS holding a Romney sign and we hugged each other before parting ways, much to the surprise of other Romney supporters and Occupiers. Everyone danced to the band and I called out to the Santorum contingent, “hey, I googled Santorum!” to which, John Huntsman supporters within ear shot broke out laughing.


Just as Eric and were leaving this strange gathering to head to a local bar to watch the debate, is when a Newt Gingrich campaign staffer blasted out on her mega phone “Take a bath! Get a job!” We halt and turn back, and call out said staffer on her accusation. She is shocked and fires back. We all proceed to argue and we realize quickly, all three of us, that we are getting no where by shouting at each other. She finally jokes with us and says “yeah, I know you are but what am I?” I roar with laughter and so does she. It was a great way to exit conflict and part ways. Eric and I retold over beers later that night and agreed that he and I have more in common with the campaign staffer than any of us actually have with any politicians in the running for office.


Two days later, I head down to a Newt Gingrich town hall, 'cuz for some reason he was the object of my comtempt more than any other guy in the running. I manage to get up to the front when he is ready to take questions and I put my hand up. I am shaking because, who is ready to hand me the mic, is my new buddy who told me to take a bath and get a job. Fortunately she doesn't recognize me. I get my question out. Newt is annoyed because I am not one of the people who have been planted in the audience by his campaign staff. I challenge him on his comment of paychecks vs. food stamps and as I hand back the microphone, I can't help but whisper, “I know you are but what am I.” We smile at each other and I head back to my seat.


I am thinking of my “buddy” today on election day. Back in the Spring “Peg” showed up at the clinic and was on my schedule as a new patient. When she arrives, I know that I know her, and I know that she looks uncomfortable and in pain. When she gets back from the bathroom, she looks at me and says “I know you are but what am I.” I laugh, and I give her a high five. We sit down for an a quick intake and I set up her treatment plan. She mentions that she is only working part time and I explain the sliding scale. We connect. She gets settled into a chair and we start her treatment. “So try moving your head and see how your neck feels, then try moving your shoulder.” She does, then she looks back at me shocked, surprised, and then relieved. “How did you?….” “oh my god….” I ask her if she wants blankets on her feet and she nods. I check on her and she is resting comfortably. On her way out she says to Kristine, who is running the front desk at that shift, “Be sure to ask Elizabeth how we first met. It's hilarious.”


It's been awhile since we've seen “Peg” here at MAS. She came into see all of us throughout her treatment plan and her shoulder improved. She and I always giggled whenever we saw each other. And one day I had to ask, “So, are you and Newt, like, friends?” She laughed and shook her head, “oh god no.” To which I said, “it's pretty cool that you work fairly closely with one of the most famous politicians ever, the guy that could shut down the government.”


I wish all our patients everywhere a great election day. Regardless of politics, a cozy recliner will always be here when you need it.   

Author: Roppy

MAS super-punk since 2010

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  1. I love that story, Elizabeth! Thanks so much for sharing.

    I had a great Election Day moment yesterday. Definitely less partisan, but still cool. Here it is:
    I had a patient come in with her “I Voted Sticker” on and she announced that this was her first time voting and that she had just become a US Citizen and was so excited. We quietly hugged, high-fived, and I teared up a bit. It was great. Then she got an even bigger smile on her face and said, “Guess what else I finally got today? My period!!!” She didn’t know what to be more excited about (It had been a long time and was her main complaint) and then she said, “I just wish I had a sticker for the period, too.” So, when she woke up I gave her a sparkly star sticker and big period/election hugs.

    That just made my day! And I am still not quite sure which she was happier about 😉

  2. love this story. for me, it seems community acupuncture is this amazing bridge to helping us all connect. guess that’s where the “community” parts comes in. thanks for sharing!!