Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Was I Waiting For?

For close to the last year I've had an on and off ache in my right neck and shoulder, i'm fairly certain it started and stems from sitting at a desk all day.  Usually a few stretches or days away from the computer would help but over the last few months it only got worse. In the states my go to would be a full body massage (using my shoulder as an excuse for full body indulgence) but I wanted to try something new.  After hearing some mixed opinions but overall positive reviews I decided it was time to give oriental medicine a try.   
A few other teachers recommended a place near the orphanage I volunteer at so I popped in one night after I was done volunteering. Through broken English/Korean combination we established what was wrong with me and got me registered as a patient.  They attached some cups to my back which were "physical therapy  / massage and I was told to wait 20 minutes...it felt good but I figured the needles were what I really needed. Unfortunately the doctor wasn't there so they told me i'd have to return the next day, umm ok? Why'd you even start then...  FF to Thursday evening and there I am hooked back up to the machine, 20 minutes later and "sorry, doctor is at university, very busy, come back tomorrow?" umm really?? considering this is a 40 minute bus ride from my house and the doctor seemed to never be available I blew off my next appointment. Instead I found a place conveniently located on the main road of my town.

Again a bit of a struggle to get signed in [really should work on my Korean] but soon enough I was settled and waiting to see the doctor.  As I walked into his office he smiled at me, and to my great relief asked, "So, do you speak Korean?" hmm not so much. Thankfully his English was flawless, he did some stretches and stuff telling me I have upper trapezius shortening and something else - basically I need to stretch out the muscles in my back - or like the Chiropractor told me a year ago "You have angry shoulders".  

Next came the fun part! They took me to the next room had me lie down and took off my left sock and make a fist with my left hand.  All a bit strange but I know acupuncture works with energy flow in the body so I just went with it.  Soon there were five needles in me, two in my hand, one in the elbow and two in the foot.  20 minutes later the nurse came back to take them out and had me sit up for the next portion of the treatment.  I was thinking they would do the suction cup ball thingy machine I had attached to me at the other place but it was a bit different. 

Instead of lying down I sat upright facing the wall as the woman said "조금 아파요" which my brain took a second to translate to "It will hurt a little". Not sure what she did but I heard some strange noises and a faint prick on my back, next she attached the glass suction cups. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of these contraptions but I can tell you, it felt amazing.  Five minutes later and she was back to remove the cups, which is when I figured out what she was doing before attaching them, or at least have more of a guess.  She must have pricked my back with sometime because under two of the cups she had to wipe off blood.  Thanks to Google I've determined this is called wet cupping . Aside from the goofy looking bruises I acquired the procedure was pretty painless, fast, easy and cheap (7,000 won first visit only 4,000 for the second).  I went back for a second treatment about a week later and have noticed a pretty significant reduction in pain.  I guess stretching could have assisted that but I would definitely advocate on the pros side of at least giving oriental medicine a try. ESPECIALLY if you're living in Asia where it's dirt cheap and readily available. 


  1. cray cray girl. Looks cool though. I have a bad back and shoulder...maybe i should find a korean doctor here to fix me

  2. PS...you really slacked on blogging in November