She was zoftig, with salt & pepper hair, hunched over her walker, every agonizing step a memory of how bad the next one would be. She had responded well to her first acupuncture treatmen, scrunched on the hard, high floroscopy table that doubles as an acupuncture bed. We went local on her back with e-stim on Bladder 23, 31, 57. A protocol I inherited from my second senior acupuncture mentor from Liaoning Provencial Hospital. We worked together for bubkas at the Westside Health Authority clinic in the hood in another life-time. Vanilla. Safe. The Plain Jane treatment had worked ok. No knee pain for 4 hours and no back pain for 4 days. Time to bring out the big guns. Zhou. Particularly after Monday's success. I peppered her head with a handful of Zhou's points and, to her surprise, asked her to stroll with me sans walker, down the corridor. She took the leap of faith, and walked strong, first with the help of my hand clenching hers. And then free fall, re--learning what it is like to be self -powered again.
I told her the story of the grapholigist I called in Colorado decades ago. In my Mad Ad days. To inquire about her classes in handwriting analysis. She didn't answer. I repeated the message she left for callers to hear. " When you get to the edge of the circle of light, and step off into the darkenss, one of two things will happen. Either your foot will hit solid ground, or you will fall, grow wings, and fly." My patient flew that day. But it doesn'end there. While she was sitting in the room, getting well, I saw a second patient, the calligraphy of pain etching her face, and thought I would walk her back for some salt & pepper. With her consent. She sat their. Like the Queen of Cures. The angle of the chin. The sureness in her voice, Head tilted just so. Lips pursed to add emphassis to her pronouncements. I was mesmerized. I, and the patient beside me were charmed by what she saw and heard. How these slender needles blending into the black & white landscape, might also help her own condition. Lessen her pain. Take the hitch out of her get-along. We went back to the other treatment room. And it did. But not before we paid it forward. With a surley black sister who wasn't going to let anyone pull the wool over her eyes.
When I suggested the flavor of the day to her, Zhu Scalp Acu[ncture, she said "What ever." Rolling her eyes at this frosty-haired white guy who had no idea how many miles of bad roadshe had traveled in this lifetime. Time for the hand off. A Black sister with terrible back and leg pain having a Hispanic sister tell her how those needles in her scalp had instantly made a difference in her pain level. And added a fluidity and grace to her gait. Somehow I felt separated from it all. Like a spectator. Someone in the audience of a play called "This works. Pass it on." Or part of some kind of conspiracy. That needed secret passwords. And twisted finger handshakes. To gain access to hidden, life-changing knowledge. Passed down through the centuries. Carried by Otzi up through the Alps 5,000 years ago. Shouldering his back pain and abdominal pain from the whip worms in his belly with him. To be found bled out in the Otzil Alps Glacier. By a honey-mooning Austrian couple. Waving up at them. Whispering "share my secrets." They did. And so did the Lancet British Medical Journal. Which postulated that the strokes and hatchmarks tattoed on Otzi were short-hand for the acupuncture points he used for his arthritic back, and wormy belly. pain. And now a varient of this Wisdom Medicine, had been passed on by another Time Bender, from Northern Italy where Otzi had lived, to a busy Chicago clinic nested in a much larger vortex dedicated to easing pain. Offering people of all shapes, ages and color hope. And healing.