Getting Stuck in Beijing

By Lisa Setyon

(Acupuncture is the ancient Chinese practice of inserting needles in specific points on the body to manipulate the flow of energy)

My friends pushed me down on the blue seat in front of the little Chinese student with needles in his hands. “Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt,” Tahseen Rabbi, my roommate, said. I don’t know what my face looked like, but I assume it was filled with disgust. Zhang Xin, a 19 years old student at the Beijing University of Chinese medicine, was about to perform acupuncture on my leg, and I was ready to pass out.

He said it would help ease menstrual cramps. The blood that had coagulated would disperse. He explained that there is of energy, when women have their periods, because of the blood leaving your body. Cold liquids should be avoided when a woman has her period.

His plump fingers neared closer and closer. My heart was about to jump out of my chest. The thin cold needle touched my knee and my entire body jerked away. “It doesn’t feel like anything, I just did it,” Rabbi, said. Even though I love Tahseen, I can’t trust her on this. She is a free spirit, more carefree than I am. I bet she doesn’t even feel pain.

I looked away from the boy and his silver needles. “Is it in?” I asked. The crowd that had gathered around me clapped and cheered. I’m guessing that means a yes. Wow, I didn’t even feel it go in, I thought. He continued sticking more needles into my legs, then toggled the needles. There was no sharp pain, but soreness when he reached the right muscle. It tingled, a little.

Suddenly my cramps began to subside. What?! This actually works? I was stunned. The needles didn’t go near my stomach area. I don’t understand how the needles in my knees helped fix the pain in my uterus. The 19-year old, uncertified student took out the needles from my body. I felt weak from fear, but accomplished. I managed to sit through acupuncture.

Later, I asked, my friend, Jessica Opatich, how the acupuncture felt on her body. “They say you don’t feel anything at all? Bullshit,” she said. I guess it doesn’t feel the same for everybody.

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