Pain is annoying. We realize your response is probably a giant “Duh!”


What if your discomfort (a euphemism for pain) plops itself somewhere on your body and decides to stay? Depending on your tolerance level, you have two choices. Either you take medicine, which can cause a whole new set of problems, or you learn to live with it.


This lady always thought she had a low pain tolerance, but faced with a lifetime of taking pills, she realized she could live with the daily discomfort. Not only did the pain increase over the years, but it often caused difficulty with falling asleep and, at times, to stay asleep.


Getting up in the morning included some maneuvering of her body to get to a standing position.

But over time, she adapted. Once she was up and around, the pain either went away or diminished to a tolerable level. And life chugged along.

During a recent trip to Costa Rica, the back started hurting more than usual. In spite of the daily two miles plus power walks on the beach, the back became progressively worse. Then one day it locked up with a cramp or spasm that would not stop. Even with various Yoga stretches, the pain ratcheted up with no respite.

Our son recommended a visit to their acupuncturist. “It can’t hurt, and the treatment may help,” he stated.

Well, the idea of someone sticking pins in her body made the lady wonder about his “It can’t hurt” comment. However, since massage did not help and seemed to aggravate the back problem, she agreed.

This writer recalled her daughter going to the same acupuncturist, and she had immediate and positive results. Nevertheless, the possible additional pain left this woman wondering about the wisdom of such an undertaking.

“What could go wrong except perhaps more pain,” she mused.

Going anywhere on the lumpy, bumpy backroads of Costa Rica requires intestinal fortitude and lots of tense muscles. The drive up the mountain was no exception. In the lady’s mind, the dangers multiplied as the car lurched up the near-vertical road.

The acupuncturist explained the basic process but did not promise a positive outcome because people with sciatic nerve damage had varying results. We liked her honesty to pie in the sky promises.

Whether you get a massage or become a human pincushion, resting face down on the treatment table is always fun. The little face-squisher supporting the forehead and cheeks makes one wonder who thought up that particular instrument of torture. It reminds us of overzealous aunts who squeezed our cheeks until our eyeballs bugged out.

The point was to cure or ease pain, and not create a new issue. Either your sinuses become stuffy to the point you cannot breathe, or your eyeballs feel like someone pressed thumbs in them. The sinus part causes discomfort. The prospect of gauged eyeballs could be an appearance problem.

Surprisingly, most of the pins shoved into the lady’s body did not hurt. However, the ones that caused her to levitate above the treatment table were spectacular. “That area is tight,” remarked the needle-stabbing lady in far too calm a voice.

Please note, this writer deserves a medal of valor because she managed to refrain from spewing a few snarky comments. After all, the procedure might help, maybe.

With needles in place, the acupuncturist suggested said “Relax,” and left the room. You try relaxing with 40-something needles in your spine.

After the acupuncturist removed the needles, she performed a manual ritual she called cupping. This writer wondered how much of her blood oozed from her body during that process. Since this lady got off the table without getting dizzy from blood loss, the answer is not much. As a welcome bonus, she realized she was pain-free.

Before leaving Costa Rica, she had several more treatments and vowed to find someone close to home to continue the pincushion experience.

She succeeded in her search. After nearly thirty years of pain, she is pain-free.

It seems, being a temporary porcupine has its benefits.

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