Pins And Needles, Needles And Pins


Do you get squeamish if someone mentions the word “acupuncture?” I know I do. Just the thought of needles makes my knees go weak.
Working at Winthrop Hospital, I regularly gave blood. However, I don’t have to look at the technician when she puts the needle into my arm. I conveniently turn my head when getting vaccinated. There is no requirement to watch the procedure, right?

A scene from 1934’s March of the Wooden Soldiers helped shape columnist Paul DiSclafani’s views on acupuncture
(Photo by Gus Meins & Charley Rodgers/public domain)

There’s usually no real pain when getting a needle, so I can’t put my finger on my aversion to it. Everyone has had a needle stick at one point or another. It’s a quick thing and over in just a few seconds. I’ve even been complimented that my veins are easy to find and good for donating blood. So, I’ve got that going for me.

But acupuncture? The whole premise requires sticking multiple needles into your body.
My vision of acupuncture keeps returning to the final scene of the classic Laurel and Hardy movie, March of the Wooden Soldiers. Ollie is accidentally shot in his back with a cannon full of darts intended for the bogeymen. His back was covered entirely in darts that Stan comically pulls out one at a time. Sheesh…

Contrary to popular belief, acupuncture is not voodoo. It’s just a little mysterious and misunderstood, at least that’s what I told myself.
After hurting my back a few weeks ago, the orthopedist referred me to physical therapy a few times a week to help relieve the pain. I asked him about acupuncture and he highly recommended it. “Many people get relief from acupuncture,” he said, “Just make sure you choose a licensed practitioner and not someone working out of their basement.”

Immediately, I thought of George Costanza’s entire body turning purple when seeking a holistic solution with Kramer’s friend for his tonsillitis. Maybe I watch too much TV?
I made my way into NY-CHI Studios Acupuncture and Massage in Hicksville on a recommendation from family members. Chris Miranda is a licensed acupuncturist and massage therapist, so I assume my body is in no danger of turning purple.
The office was quiet and inviting, as are the treatment rooms, with gentle lighting and music to match. Everything about the experience was relaxing.
But what about the needles, you say?

Chris has a smooth and relaxing speaking voice and loves engaging in conversation. Maybe it’s a way of diverting your attention as he masterfully places the slender needles in their required locations. The acupuncture needle is actually 10 times thinner than the average hypodermic needle and barely twice the width of a human hair.
Laying on my stomach, I had no view of the insertion process, nor did I want one. Maybe that was for the best. Don’t get me wrong, you feel a slight pinch sometimes, but it was really nothing at all. I’ve felt more from a mosquito bite. When finished, he precisely placed a total of 37 needles in my back, shoulders, down my legs and in my heel.

Are your knees getting weak yet?
Trust me. Coming from a person who has been needle-phobic his entire life, it’s a great big Nothing-Burger. In subsequent sessions, I’ve had needles in my ears and on the top of my hands. I can’t say I have any idea what placing needles in those specific locations has to do with helping ease back pain.

But Chris knows, and that’s good enough for me. Part of the treatment is also a Chinese massage therapy called Tui Na (without the needles, of course) and stretching.
Is acupuncture a miracle cure? Of course not. You don’t walk out doing cartwheels after one treatment. Like any therapy, it takes time to get better. I like to think of it as baby steps. Physical therapy is hard work, but acupuncture is much more therapeutic, almost relaxing.
As long as I don’t have to look at the needles…

Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a Press Club of Long Island award-winning columnist (2018, 2020) and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.

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