This post is by our acupunk, Amy Chang "May I see your tongue, please?" My patient pulls out a dry erase marker and scribbles his reply on a small whiteboard attached to his belt. "I have no tongue."
I blink, a little taken aback. I'm supposed to be taking his pulse, butI've
never met someone
without a tongue before. True, we're at Burning Man, an annual art
festival held on a prehistoric lake bed in northern Nevada, where one
might meet participants from all over the world, but in 5 consecutive
years of being a HeeBeeGeeBee Healer (a theme camp which offers free
healing sessions and yoga classes) this is the first time I have run
into someone who literally could not show me his tongue. The wind
billows through the 30' diameter army green parachute that makes our
Chillspace Tent #2 as I swallow, wondering how to proceed.
explains, in a scrawl, "I was in Vietnam." He mimes something hitting
him in the right jaw, a grenade perhaps, blowing through his face and
half his chest. He pulls up his t-shirt and shows me a web of sutures
and scars. My first thought is: how are you still alive? It is a
miracle. Just as the existence of this place is a miracle: Black Rock
City exists officially for only seven days each year, during the week of
Burning Man, but while we're here no money is exchanged beyond the
gates, no vehicles are driven (except art cars registered at the
Department of Mutant Vehicles), all services and goods are given freely,
all art installations are open to interaction, and everyone commits to
leaving no trace behind us when we leave. Here I have met people I would
never have met if not for Burning Man, like this scarred Vietnam
veteran sitting on the blue and white checkered couch before me.
his current complaint is fairly simple, one that I see many times a
week at Sarana: left shoulder pain with difficulty raising the arm. He writes, "I am a lamplighter. I need my shoulder!" The
Lamplighters are a theme camp, like the HeeBeeGeeBees. While we provide
healing and restful shade, they contribute light. Every day, men and
womendressed in white robes
at dusk along the Esplanade and the paths to the Man and the Temple,
carrying long poles laden with blue lanterns that are hung upon wooden
stands, tohelp everyone see
where they are going. The lights are removed at dawn, also by
volunteers of Lamplighter Village. The streetlamps are tall; the
lamplightersuse hooks to raise and lower the lanterns. It is a repetitive motion, one that he cannot do at all right now. After
some thought, I put three needles in his left hand, avoiding the scar
tissue all over the rest of his body. Usually I would go for shin points
too, but I'm afraid he might have more scars that I don't know about,
so I keep the treatment simple.
Half an hour later when I remove the needles, full range of motion has come back to him. He writes on his whiteboard, "You are a gift
from the gods!"
Two days later, after the Temple has burned to the
ground, ritualistically marking the end of this year's Burning Man
Festival, the man with no tongue comes back to find me. He gives me a
small silver pendant with a lamp on it, and shows me how well his left
arm has retained the benefits of the first acupuncture treatment of his
life. I don't know what makes me happier, the token of gratitude or his smile.
We offer effective and affordable acupuncture in a relaxing and comfortable shared space and Chinese herbal remedies. Our goal is to provide quality compassionate care and to make it accessible to folks of ordinary means. We believe that Community Acupuncture can play a vital role in keeping health costs down while keeping people healthy. Pioneered by Portland, Oregon’s Working Class Acupuncture, Community Acupuncture makes this safe, simple, effective, 2,000-year-old medicine widely accessible in the West. We are part of People's Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA - pocacoop.com), a co-operative dedicated to increasing accessibility to and availability of affordable group acupuncture treatments.