A handful of acupuncture needles rattled in Marco Leclerc’s palm, sending my anxiety skyrocketing. I practiced some deep breathing and tried to focus on his calming voice.
Leclerc is the proprietor of Wandering Goose Acupuncture in Pawtucket. He practices a fusion of classical and traditional Chinese medicine, which can include acupuncture, bodywork and herbal medicine, and I had no idea which treatments to expect when I walked into his clinic. I was hoping to be given a handful of herbs and be sent on my way, because my needlephobic heart was racing from the moment I pulled into his parking lot.
I had scheduled my appointment with Leclerc weeks before, and confessed to having no medical complaints, worried that he wouldn’t accept me as a patient. But he explained his treatments are best used as preventatives. “Acupuncture and herbs are great for increasing sensory awareness, cognitive abilities and overcoming creative blocks,” he explained. “However, it is powerful enough to treat serious illnesses and provide relief to those who want to avoid lots of pharmaceuticals or prevent unneeded surgeries.”
His space is soothing: ambient music, low lighting, unobtrusive incense, and floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall shelves filled with jars of herbs. He checked both wrists for my six pulses (taut) and examined my tongue (puffy) before declaring me damp and imbalanced with depleted Qi, or life force. It isn’t as bad as it sounds, though. We’re all a little damp in the winter and mothers often have a depleted life force. He assured me that acupuncture would help restore balance.
Qi flows through the body in a conceptual path called the meridian system, which contains more than 400 acupuncture points. Based on the practitioner’s diagnosis, acupuncture needles are placed in some of these points to help Qi flow more freely and improve health. The first of 12 needles went into my third eye point, located between and slightly above my eyebrows. “This is the calming point, so I always needle it first,” Leclerc explained. “It’s often used in veterinary acupuncture. “
Well, if it works in dogs…
Leclerc uses a tube system to place needles. He presses a small plastic tube over the acupuncture point, then taps the needle into the skin through the tube. “The tube method improves accuracy,” he explained. Its second function is to fool the nerves into registering the pressure of the tube rather than the prick of the needle. My nerves were easily duped — I didn’t feel a thing. The tube method reduces his speed, however. “If I’m treating multiple patients at once, I prefer to freehand it,” Leclerc said.
Needles placed, Leclerc left the room and I sank into the sensations. I felt a buzzy energy, and was aware of only a couple of needles. The one near my left wrist was sometimes pinchy. The one in my right ankle seemed to be vibrating. When Leclerc returned about 15 minutes later, he explained the needles that gave me sensation corresponded to the parts of my body that needed to be brought into balance. He removed the needles, took my pulses again and declared them closer to normal.
When I got home, I was shocked by how good I felt — euphoric and with more energy than I’ve had in months. Whether my lifted spirit was due to an adjusted energy flow or a much needed break from months of monotony is difficult to tell, but my needle phobia is no match for this high, and I’ve already scheduled a second appointment.
Wandering Goose Acupuncture, 211 Columbus Ave #119, Pawtucket; wanderinggooseaccupuncture.com