The Dragon lady and I are getting into a real routine.
I go in to a treatment room, I take off my pants and lie on a table with a sheet over me. She eventually comes in, stares at my face and points out all the zits that are coming in as if I hadn’t already spent two hours staring in the mirror, agonizing over them. Then she tells me my diet is bad.
I then swear to her that I have been so good. And I start listing everything I’ve had to eat for the last two days before I realize how weird it is that I’m doing that, so I stop.
Then she feels my pulse and says,
“Oh, I make you so fertile.”
I get my hopes up and think maybe I’ll be able to get pregnant soon. Then she deflates them by saying something like,
“It take time. Some women just weaker.”
I become reminded that I am a weak white girl who cannot carry a child. Then she puts needles all over me while telling me about some other poor girl in the next room who’s had more miscarriages than me, or who has worse acne than me, or who has something weird growing out of her shoulder. I hope the girl in the next room can’t hear.
Then the Dragon Lady leaves me for 25 minutes to go put needles in some other woman down the hall while telling her all about me.
I lay there and try to relax. But somehow, I cannot stop thinking about how there are 64 needles sticking out of my body. I close my eyes. I forget about the needles. Then I absentmindedly adjust my foot. And Damn, there’s an effing needle in there!
Finally, the Dragon Lady comes back in, resuming her conversation about the girl in the next room, as if she had never left the conversation at all. She pulls the needles out, then has me turn over so that she can put needles in my back. Apparently, not every patient needs needles on both their front side and back side. But I am an especially weak white woman who cannot carry a child, and “this make stronger.”
The Dragon Lady leaves again, and for ten more minutes I lay on my stomach trying not to think about the needles that are all over my back. I find that easier now, because it takes all my concentration to figure out how to breath with my face smashed into a pillow.
The Dragon Lady comes back in and takes all 30 needles out of my back in less than ten seconds, giving her just enough time to tell me about the woman in the waiting room who has two uteruses.
The treatment comes to a close with the Dragon Lady trying to give me a quick, awkward hug. But with me, lying pantsless on my stomach and her standing over me, it’s more like a strange moth mating ritual.
And that’s what I’ve come to expect of my twice-a-week visits with the Dragon Lady.
Except for this one visit where things got weird. er.
After removing the needles from my backside, the Dragon Lady had me flip back over to lay on my back again. Then she took a ball point pen and started marking up my body like I was a sidewalk ready for a demolition crew. Then she said,
“Stay here. She come in. Show you herbs.”
And then the Dragon Lady left the room. I didn’t know who “she” was. And the Dragon Lady already had me on so many herbs and supplements that the inside of my purse looked like a Chinese Walgreens, but when the Dragon Lady tells you to do something, you do it.
A few seconds later I found out that “she” was the receptionist. And the “herbs” were some kind of fiery, smoking, smelly stick she held in her hand.
The Receptionist told me she was going to show me this thing I would need to do to myself at home three times a week.
Then, without warning, she held the fiery, smoky, smelly stick up to one of the pen marks on my leg and said,
“Your instinct is going to be to move your leg away, but don’t. We need it to get nice and red.”
The Dragon Lady and the receptionist were plotting together to roast my weak white body, one ball point pen mark at a time.
This practice is called moxibustion, and it is an important component of Traditional Chinese Medicine. And I know this because several google searches including keywords: smoky sticks, burning, smelly and acupuncture, finally told me so.
Like acupuncture, it forces blood to travel to important blood vessels, inducing the body’s natural healing process. I have ten spots on my body that I must hold a special burning stick up to until each turns bright pink and hurts like hell.
So naturally I’ve started doing this on the floor of my family room at night while watching Breaking Bad. My husband demands to be in the room with me while I do it. Not because he’s worried I’ll hurt myself or set the house on fire, but because he loves the smell. Weirdo.
And I kind of enjoy doing it. Not just because I know it is helping me along the long, windy, broken path to motherhood. But because I want to make the Dragon Lady proud of my weak, white self.
With each burning red mark I create, I imagine some day she is going to feel my pulse and say more than just, “Oh I make you so fertile.”
The Dragon Lady is going to say, “Oh I make you have baby.”