As granola as I am when it comes to health, I have to say that when my soon to be cousin-in-law first mentioned Detroit Community Acupuncture, I was a little apprehensive. My initial response: “Do I have to take off my clothes?”
At the DCA (located near the Majestic on Woodward Ave), bodies stay clothed and the needles are only inserted in calves, ankles, feet, arms, elbows and hands. “Phew”, I thought. But still, that word “community” was making my doubt throb a bit even though I’m used to sweating half naked with a bunch of stranger in yoga classes, what’s the difference? Maybe it was the idea of experiencing something new in front of strangers. Was my reaction going to be embarrassing as I laid there while someone poked me with a bunch of needles?
A big reason for the community approach at DCA, is because treating patients in a relaxed atmosphere where family members can come along with them is very beneficial. Plus, because of the community style, it’s extremely affordable. The DCA works on a sliding scale. Initial visits are $20-$40, and then drop to $15-$35 after that.
Acupuncture, although becoming more of a mainstream form of treatment, can still be misconceived as a hokey sort of practice. This is being proven to be untrue and studies have shown that acupuncture has been a bona fide treatment for patients dealing with chronic pain, ailments and internal imbalances such as: asthma, ADD, ADHD, tension headaches, athletic performance, common cold, bronchitis, cataracts, poor vision, migraines, sports injuries, Parkinson’s, GURDS, digestion, toothaches, gingivitis, addictions, anxiety, depression, diabetes, muscle weakness, insomnia, constipation, indigestion, hypertension…oh, and weight loss.
I had to fight my fears and try it.
When I walk into the waiting room, I was welcomed with a big smile, peppermint tea and some paperwork about my medical history. Once that was finished I was allowed into the community room where some clients were already sleeping-with needles in them. Bear with me, I know it sounds weird. Think of a yoga studio but instead of mats, there are recliners with fresh colorful linens draped over them and a blanket. Zen music was playing and the air was cool and smelled like eucalyptus.
I picked a recliner, sat down, put my shoes and purse in the red bin next to the chair, rolled my pants to my knees and looked around at the people who seemed to be knocked out cold. All of them had smiles on their faces. It made me jealous, so I snuggled up in the blanket and closed my eyes while I waited for the acupuncturist. Needles or no needles, I already felt 100% better, calmer and my anxieties of life had left the building. Well, almost. There was still the whole idea of being a pin cushion lurking. When it comes to needles being poked into me, I’m a baby. I may look calm on the outside when having my blood taken but that’s because I’m a pro at masking it by talking myself through it, focusing on my breath and making sure I don’t look at the needles.
I’m sure I looked a little crazy laying there with my eyes closed and a big grin on my face when Nora, the Acupuncturist, walked over to my chair side. She didn’t judge me though. In fact, with the her own smile, she lured me into telling her everything I wanted to change about myself. Well, maybe that was a little dramatic but she was incredibly kind and compassionate, making me feel comfortable enough to share my medical history. Not only was she sympathetic but knowledgeable on all fronts of each ailment, asking the same sort of questions as my doctors. She explained how it was going to go down, what I might feel and to let her know if I felt any pain because she could adjust the depth of the needle (it only goes in 1/4 to 1 inch deep).
So when I say the needles don’t hurt, you better believe they don’t hurt because not only are the flimsy needles small enough to fit into your pours but it would take ten to twelve of them to fit into one hypodermic needle that doctor’s use. I could watch her put the needles in, without squirming. I could feel them without it hurting. I could even shake my arm, watching the thin little pins dance around while anchored in my skin. It was actually pretty liberating for someone like me. Side note: the needles that DCA use are only used once (you see the Acupuncturist open the brand new package of needles) and are then discarded properly afterwards.
Since my DCA visit, I have already been back and definitely intend on making this a weekly routine in maintaining my balance, health and overall well being. I invite you to at least try it.
Big thanks to Eve Breitmeyer for referring me and to Nora who was so gentle and easy to talk to!
Amelia Kanan is freelance writer/photographer and a returning native of Detroit. A graduate of Columbia College in Chicago, she wrote for an Emmy nominated sketch comedy show and pursued her passion for documentary filmmaking in Los Angeles. An incomplete list of her loves: books, human rights, improv, the smell of new shoes, talking to strangers, libraries, France, yoga, furniture, music, sociology and pushing the limits.