Pins and Needles

In an effort to try to fix my poor, poor neck muscles, and Ross’s poor, poor back muscles, we tried acupuncture yesterday. I have never tried it, but heard good things about it from magazines and from friends of ours who have tried it before, like Kim. Kim has said it’s REALLY helped her, and in Korea it is super cheap. Anything is worth a shot at this point we figured, so why not give it a try. We asked around, and Karabeth knew of a place that we could easily get to by bus or a cheap taxi ride, and the doctor spoke English. We tried to go earlier in the week, but they were closing (when we walked in, the first thing out of the receptionist’s mouth was “Oh my god” followed by “We are finishee”) so we went back Saturday morning.

There were two people there who spoke English, the doctor and what I think must be the main nurse. The nurse helped us out to register us, and I had to give her our ARC cards (which I’m fully embarrassed of mine because it’s a HORRIBLE picture, usually I take decent ID photos but not this one!) in order for her to finish, then she called me back to see the doctor first.

He was a very pleasant guy, in his mid to late 30’s and spoke English well enough that I could understand about 95% of what he was trying to tell me. I told him that my neck was always very tense, and that I had to crack my neck on a regular basis to relieve the pressure. He said he could help, and had me lie on a table in his office. He then proceeded to take my wrist and start feeling the structure of my wrist. I thought it was weird, because it was no where near my neck and it was on the opposite side of my body from my bad side, but I trusted him so I went with it. He poked me a bunch of times with this needle like thing, that was just a quick jab. Felt almost like a tattoo needle, because it went in and out so quick. But it didn’t hurt at all. Then he asked me to turn over on my stomach, and started feeling on my back for spots that would hurt. Surprisingly, the worst spot on my back was not the left side of my neck, but the right side of my back near my shoulder blade. I guess my back tries to compensate for the weaker side? I have no idea how this all works… But he gave me a massage and cracked my back a little, then it was time for the needles.

I was lead to this large marble slab that was heated, which felt so nice to lie on. He started to put needles in my back at a few strategic points, including maybe 3 or 4 that had medicine in them that would enter my body slowly as I lied there. There weren’t as many needles as I thought there was going to be, maybe 12 or so. I thought I’d be covered in them. I also had three electric needles put in me that was like electrotherapy. I thought they were just pads they put on, like what I had done at the chiropractor a few times, but Ross said that they were needles. Interesting.

After 10 minutes of the needles in my back, I was lead to a table that looked like a dentist’s chair, but with two supports where the head would lie, one on either side. I laid down between them, and the nurse tightened them to my neck. She then turned the table on, and it stretched my neck! It felt WONDERFUL. It would gently stretch my neck straight for 20 seconds, then release for 10. I counted, seeing as how I had nothing else to do for 7 minutes while it was going on.

After all this, I went to pay while Ross was still in his needle-in-the-back stage of his treatment. Karabeth told me it would be about 16,000 won ($15) each, which is awesome, but when I was handed the calculator the receptionist had, it showed 146,000 won. That’s about $140, and honestly I was stunned. I was thinking to myself, why is it this much? But they were wanting to sell us bags of liquid Korean herbal medicine for 55,000 won each person. We were supposed to take this medicine three times a day, morning noon and night, but for 55,000 each person? We couldn’t afford that, so I told her that I just wanted to pay for treatment, no medicine. She looked a little skeptical, but she agreed to let me just pay for the treatment. Turns out, Ross had complained about his stomach problems (anyone who has traveled with us knows that Ross gets an upset stomach just before we go anywhere) and he said he would give him some medicine for it, so maybe I should have bought it for Ross. But oh well.

The end result was awesome for me, because all yesterday I only cracked my neck once to relieve pressure. It felt so good all day. I was still tense, but I guess you have to go for more then one treatment, which we plan to do. Ross said he didn’t really feel any different, which is a shame, but like I said, maybe it takes more then one treatment. So we’re going to try going back once during the week, and then again on Saturday morning. For 16,000 won a piece, a little bit of relief is a good thing.

I apologize for no pictures, but it’s hard to get pictures when you’re lying face down on a table with needles in you. But we’re headed into Changwon today to explore, so maybe we’ll have pictures of that later on.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

xo nicole


About Nicole

I'm a Canadian, married to an American, who has lived in South Korea for two years. How's that for around the world. I'm also addicted to zebra print. Check our our experiences -

Posted on May 1, 2011, in Around Masan, Ross+Nicole and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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