When Joshua asked if he could see an acupuncturist I did not hesitate to agree. The trouble was, I did not know of one who was recommended. I’ve only been here nine months after all. I’d seen signs for them on every street and sidestreet and knew it was an intrinsic part of Chinese medicine, so I was hopeful. I was not prepared, however, to approach one randomly. We had all experienced acupuncture before and were used to being covered in needles, so not only are we not daunted at the idea but we believe in it too.
The first thing I did was to ask Emma. I always ask Emma first. She told me she knew of someone near PJ (Petaling Jaya, remember?) but could not remember her name and anyway, she had never been herself but knew this lady, whoever she was came highly recommended. So, my next stop was the Facebook page Melinda told me about when I first arrived here – Ask Justine About KL. Within hours Justine had given me several recommendations.
“Try Madame Ju,” she messaged. “They call her the White Witch but they say she is terrific.”
Joshua called up and had an appointment for the following day within minutes. Then Emma sent me a text telling me that she had found the number of her acupuncture lady. Her name was Madame Ju! Seems we struck oil first time!
So, my son went to see this White Witch and returned two hours later with a smile on his face. Then he lifted his shirt.
“She calls this a Caveman Treatment!” he said, before going on to explain she had used methods they call cupping and scraping.
“So, no acupuncture?” I asked.
“And that,” he said. “Only she attaches electrodes that give you electric shocks!”
I checked. He was still smiling.
“Did cupping and scraping hurt?”
“Hell, yes! It was like reflexology with a sledgehammer. I ache all over. I’m going again in a couple of days.”
The next day he said he felt like he’d been through a round of boxing. Yep, still smiling.
Emma told me she fancied going to see Madame Ju herself, but had kept putting it off. I wasn’t surprised.
But earlier this week the witch asked to see me to have a word about my son and so I met this supposedly wonderful woman. It was not difficult to be charmed by her energy, her warm smile and ready laugh. You can guess what’s coming next, can’t you? I decided to make an appointment for myself. The woman is so magic she can treat two, three or four patients at once it seems and so, this afternoon, I found myself sharing a room with two other women while she electrocuted my son in another room. I’d seen what Keira Knightley succumbed to in the Freud movie. So why wasn’t anyone screaming?
First I held a kind of cold metal sausage in one hand while Madame Ju touched another, attached by cord, to various places in my body and called out numbers to her assistant who wrote them down. It took about ten seconds. Then, she told me my tinnitus was a direct cause of anxiety and my heart beat too fast, which, in turn, caused my insomnia and prescribed a homeopathic medicine for another of my long term complaints. Next she inserted about seven needles at various parts of my body – my hand, foot, shin, stomach and forehead. Phew, I thought, I’m getting normal needles. I escaped the caveman and the electricity. I didn’t fancy getting gozillions of electic shocks anyway.
Well, there is good news and bad news. I did escape the cupping and scraping but soon she was indeed attaching electrodes to the needles and now tiny throbs, that felt about the size of a garden pea, were entering my body. I could feel the effect penetrating my meridians or whatever it is the acupuncture points connect to. Unfortunately, sometimes, it felt as if each pulse dug that needle deeper, which did hurt. A bit.
She left the room to treat someone else and I closed my eyes, tried to ignore the electricity that came about once a second and listened to the classical music that filled the room. I’ve never been much good at recognising composers but soon I realised I knew what I was hearing. It was Verdi’s Traviata. Suddenly, I burst out laughing. Twice. The next piece seemed familiar too. I knew it. Saint Saens’ The Swan. I love that piece and another burst of laughter left my lips. Then I remembered how beautifully Ian had played that at our niece’s christening and tears pricked my eyes. What was this? Emotions 101? Next up was peace, which I lay back to enjoy until a new client spun into the room declaring how grateful she was that Madame Ju had given her an emergency appointment as her back was agony.
“I love this woman!” she said, “How do you want me, Madame Ju, front or back?
“Back,” said our therapist before the newcomer flopped onto the bed beside me.
“It’s my first time,” I said weakly.
“I didn’t want to come here at all. Resisted for years, actually,” she said in a voice filled with energy and fun. “Thought it was all a load of voodoo!” She laughed.
“How often do you come?” I asked.
“Every week, oooh for about two years. More? She’s brilliant. Can’t do without her.”
Meanwhile Mrs Ju stuck a number of needles into my roommate’s lower back, so she looked like a pin cushion. How come she didn’t get the electrodes?
Just as I was beginning to think my companion was clearly not getting better, then, not if she still had to come once a week. Then she read my mind.
“I’m a nutcase,” she said, laughing again. “Something different every time. Get cured immediately!”
Blimey, I thought. We did strike oil.
On the way home in the car I could still see a tiny mark on my left hand where the needle had been. By now I had a new emotion – mild euphoria. I chattered away to Joshua, about, well everything that popped into my head. I do have a tendency towards a grasshopper mind.
“Shut up, Mum!” he said, also laughing. “You sound like a broken vending machine!”
Maybe it was a little excessive!
We’re both going back next week.