How open are you to trying to new things? Ever bought a pair of red Chuck Taylors, then actually worn them? Ever had your ear pierced in Canada then didn't get rid of it when you got back to the States?
Hey, me neither!
On a scale of one to ten, how game are you, with a one being, "Hey, Honey, how 'bout handing a fresh bottle of Pert over the shower curtain? You know I can't wash my bottom with a dirty head," to a ten being "Hell yes I'll eat that monkey!"?
While most of us fall somewhere mid-range, I've always skewed toward the "there's only one way to get to Tukwila" end of the scale. Sure, I've always talked a big game, but inevitably I've skedaddled to the comfort of my black and white cocoon of absolutism.
But when it comes to my asthma, experimentation has always bucked my conservatism. Since my first attack in '65, I've experimented with any number of inhaler cocktails, yet stuck to my tried and true friend, Albuterol, much like Donald Trump's well-documented dependence on Cialis and finger extensions. I'm a freaking OG vaper, which is why my adult life has witnessed a winding chain of steroid-based treatments, but without the benefit of large deltoids and small testes.
Prior to this winter, my only foray into eastern sensibilities had been a brief smidge of ponytailed dabbling back in the '90s, devouring Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in an impressive year-and-a-half. In summary, its message was that when we're able to shake free our dualistic mindsets (good/bad, right/wrong, subject/object), and simply experience every moment as it occurs, our egos dissolve and we become one with everything. No separation will then exist between the energy that powers all living things, a force within which God resides.
So yeah, while the whole Zen deal is amazing and enlightening and all that shit, not once in all those pages does anyone mention God shoving needles in my cheeks. And I'm not talking about the more insulated cheeks located south of the Bible Belt; if my eyes are midtown Manhattan, the needles are setting up shop in Little Italy.
Regardless, by December of last year, things had gotten to the point where, whether at work, home, the bus or the Target check-out line, I'd become a wheezing, coughing, throat-clearing phlegmbot, tirelessly annoying folks of all shapes and sizes, It was time to act or be assaulted by loved ones and strangers with equal impunity.
In January, I began weekly acupuncture treatments, and since, I've managed to vaguely grasp the theoretical reason why the Army Corps of Engineers felt it necessary to construct a weekly needle runway from collar bone down to lower abdomen, stopping just short of the more sensitive Silk Road to the Temple.
The gist of the theory is that when our bodies are balanced, energy flows freely from within and without. This energy is known as qi (pronounced "chee"), or life force. Qi consists of opposing forces, the yin (moist and cooling, emanating from the earth) and the yang (warm and invigorating, flowing downward from the sun and sky).
With my flow of qi impeded, an overabundance of "wind" or yin, becomes trapped in the lung, causing wheezing and shortness of breath. To combat this, needles are inserted along the lung meridian, one of nine energy pathways present in our bodies, to re-kindle the egalitarian relationship between yin and yang. In other words, the lung meridian is prodded with enough little lawn darts to force the twins back to the negotiating table.
Finally, following these months of treatments, yin and yang appear to have stopped fighting in the back seat over the last Red Vine, and Father Qi hasn't had to pull over and spank, as he calls them, "those goddamn twins."
Is all of this working? Has my asthma gone the way of the IBM Selectric? Not yet, but it's improved substantially. Unfortunately, I'm unable to fully attribute this change to acupuncture alone, since during this same period, I've eliminated dairy, lost some weight and implemented a regimen of 18 herbal supplements per day. But hey, what matters is results, right?
Actually, l changed my mind. The acupuncture is fully responsible. Let's order a pizza.