WTF: Emergency Acupuncture

crazy accupuncture feet

This was the scene on the train ride from Chuncheon to Seoul. Note that the resolution hides the true hideousness of this woman's feet.

Jen and I were on the train, next to a young lady who dramatically grasped her head and/or covered her mouth for most of the trip. We thought she had motion sickness or maybe a migraine. Whatever it was, she finally decided the pain was too much to bear.

Staff from our tour group showed up en mass with an emergency four-pack of acupuncture needles.  They removed her high-heeled shoes — natch — revealing two of the ugliest feet I’ve ever seen.  Her left ankle had a swollen lump the size of a tennis ball.  (I’m not even joking about her feet.  They looked like they’d been run over by an 18-wheeler towing a U-Haul trailer.)

Tearing my eyes away from her wretched pedal extremities, I watched as a young woman hammered each needle in with the precision and confidence of someone who’s had plenty of practice, one in each hand and foot.  I should also note that the lady receiving the treatment was relaxed and, dare I say it, eager for acupuncture.  Afterward they propped her feet up and let her rest, before coming back and re-sticking the needles in her arms.

Now, I don’t want to minimize or downplay the lady’s pain and I sincerely hope she continues to get treatment — any kind of treatment that works — for whatever was causing. However, as with most things in Korea, I’m now left with an exasperating number of questions:

  1. Is acupuncture considered legitimate medical science in Korea?
  2. Is it an officially sanctioned and overseen medical practice?
  3. If so, are certified first-aid responders required to learn how to use an emergency four-pack of needles?
  4. What is the training regimen like?  Is there a pamphlet or video, as with CPR certification?
  5. Are migraine headaches and/or swollen ankles generally considered worthy of receiving first-aid treatment in any country?

I hope my tablet’s camera captured the scene effectively.  Unfortunately, the crappy resolution doesn’t show the needles, but trust me, they’re there!

–Daniel Daugherty

Update: Judging by this picture Jen took on the train this morning, the lady may have been in pain all day long.

the lady earlier in the day

She looks to have been in pain all day. Though it may just be that stressful sitting next to Daniel on a train.



Filed under Culture Shock

2 responses to “WTF: Emergency Acupuncture

  1. Don

    Did it ease the pain and make her feel better?

    People once thought maleria was an airbron virus, and that tomatoes were poisonous…

    Also that tobacco smoke pumped through a bellows into one’s ass was medicinal…

    So perhaps there is something real about acupuncture. My friend Denny Campbell could not quit smoking. After thirty needles in his nose and ears, he never craved a cigerette again.

    Believe it on not!!

    • Daniel Daugherty

      As I said: I hope her pain was relieved, whatever treatment she decided to go with.

      My high school band director, Mr. Hendrick, claimed that he quit smoking through hypnosis, so I’m not against unorthodox methods. The lady on the train did seem to feel better as we disembarked, but I honestly can’t speak for her.

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