I had my first acupuncture session yesterday. One of the things the acupuncturist asked me was if I was afraid of needles. Interesting thing to ask of someone voluntarily scheduling acupuncture appointments. Seeing as how I am regularly, including the day before, allowing non-phlebotomist doctors to stick needles in my arms and wiggle them around in search for non-dessicated veins, I'd have to say that no, I'm not afraid of needles.
It was an interesting experience. First the acupuncturist took a brief medical history and asked why I was there. My basic answer was curiosity, although there are a few issues I pointed out that acupuncture reportedly addresses well. Then I lay face up on her table. She took my pulse at both wrists. Acupuncturists listen/feel for different things in the pulse. They're not concerned with frequency of heartbeat but rather what the strength/evenness of the pulse might tell them about different parts of the body. Immediately she identified lungs and digestive systems as areas that needed addressing. Both are correct, though neither was something I had mentioned to her. (It's ironic that, as an opera singer, my lungs might be considered weak. However, I suffered from asthma as a small child and still have what might be considered exercise-induced asthma-like symptoms; i.e., I breathe much more audibly and shallowly than I should when I run, even if I'm in good condition.)
She was going to use the thinner Japanese needles on me because this was my first time and she didn't know how I would react. I said to her, though, "I have a high tolerance for pain, I get stuck by needles all the time, and I tell my massage therapist to work me as deeply as she can." In that case, she decided, she would use the Chinese needles.
We started out with four needles in my belly, one in each wrist, three on each leg, one in the chest, and one on the bridge of the nose. She also applied some herbal ointment to my belly and put something that was burning/smoking there. (I forget what it was called.) After that, I flipped over and she inserted four needles at the base of the skull, applied suctioning cups to my lower back, slathered my back and shoulders with a couple of different lotions, and gave me a mini back and neck massage. "Are you sure there isn't more than stiffness in your neck? Most people I've worked on with this much tension are in pain!" No, it just feels stiff most of the time.
She says my body adjusted very quickly. Overall I'm very healthy and so will probably take very quickly to the treatments, needing fewer than someone who might not be doing this prophylactically. I felt very relaxed and energized afterwards. I'm looking forward to the next few sessions.