Luckily, I have an open mind about such things as alternative therapies and holistic medicine; it has, occasionally provided me with some interesting experiences and remarkable transformations.
Unluckily, this one Thursday morning, I had placed myself in the hands of a patchouli-scented maniac with a whale music CD and a grudge against physiology. And science. And common sense. And me, I think.
Someone had mentioned that going to get allergy testing was a good idea and led to unmentionable weight loss, and theyd done it through this interesting alternative therapy guff that Id never before heard of. So, sucker for an easy solution, I googled my way to health and happiness.
Or not, as things turned out.
A front room draped in tie dye and small statues of random deities. A cat wanders through. So, she says, have you tried this before?
Nonono, I say, but Im interested to discover the root of it.
Oh, its very scientific she says. It was developed by scientists. And neurologists. And nutritionists. In the 1970s. Oh yes
I hop up on the bed. As I press for the scientific root, and face the explaination that the scientific proof can be found in the science of the procedure, she starts prodding my supine form.
Lift your left arm and press against the direction of my hand, she says. I do. Ooooooooh! Can you feel that? Its really loose
It means the electricity is flowing the wrong way around my body, she says. Or its stuck. Or something. The best way to fix this, it seems, is to use her knuckles to dig, hard, into the joint. She knuckles it. And knuckles it. And carries on knuckling it. I, Anna Pickard, dealer with pain, stiff-upper-lipper, whimper. Loudly.
Oh! Is that hurting? she says, of the area that will later stop me sleeping for the next three nights – Well thats great. If its hurting, its
She digs her knuckles into the soft tissue of my shoulder, then under my ribs, deeply into my hip joints. She declares that the electricity is flowing better. I wince, and try to sound pleased, though I think it comes out as ow.
Once the electricity problems have been satisfactorarily resolved (we can tell, apparently, because when pushed, my knee/elbow doesnt give as easily when push as it did when when pushed shortly before the knuckling began). Granted, this could be because the electricity had begun a proper course of flow around my inner noids. I could also be because the elbow wasnt being pushed as hard, or perhaps, just perhaps because my Whole Body was tensing up at the fact that some crackpot was trying to bore through to New Zealand, my right shoulder first.
I was wondering whether it would be terribly inpolite to run out of the house screaming when she suggested we move on the food allergy testing.
Curious. I was, I admit, curious. This scientific theory following on from what had been a perplexing beginning would be a sight to behold. After the armpush/knuckle/armpush and kneepush/torture/kneepush process that had flicked the fuses of my inner sustainable power source, the possibilities of how exactly she was about to discover my food sensitivities were seemingly boundless.
They turned out not to be boundless at all, of course. Because whats the best way to test for food allergies?
Ok, so if you can just hold this jar of wheat grain under your chin, and lift your arm for me?
I stared at the nice blonde lady. Waiting for a loud, jolly Im KIDDING, of course!!! Then, finding one not forthcoming, and figuring I was going to have to pay for this either way, tucked the small glass jar of grain under my chin, and raised my arm.
She pushed my hand.
No, thats not working
I tried very very hard to look surprised.
Can you hold it next to your cheek instead? Nono, your right cheek. Obviously! Oooooh! Thats better, isnt it? can you feel the give on that arm? That confirms it. Youre allergic to wheat. Some might say seriously. Right. Lets see what you need to remedy that
And so there I lay, holding jars of vitamin B complex against my forehead, slowly letting grainy, chalkbased, niacin caplets dissolve under my tongue running in wallpaper-pastesque tributaries down my throat until I wanted to be sick, as she lifted my leg and pushed it, jiggled my feet and poked them, pulled my arm, threw it and stretched it out.
Oh yes, its definitely the Vitamin B you need, isnt it? Your knee is as stiff as the dead.
Searching, in a holistic kind of way, for the possible psychological roots behind my digestive woes, she tested for things I might have on my mind. Seeing that my questionnaire mentioned stress at work, worry about new living situation, career panic and the usual general weight anxiety, the nice (stick thin, blonde, beautiful) holistic nutjob asked me to lie and Think Very Hard about how much I hated being fat while she pushed my elbows and knees gently for five minutes. Which, as you can well imagine, was just enormous fun.
I tried not to laugh; the knowledge that after it all finished I was going to get up, put my shoes back on and hand over a small wodge of notes was a pretty powerful giggle-gag, I can tell you. I just lay there. Bemused, amused, and utterly unconvinced.
Yes, certainly, I might well be allergic to wheat. I might well be in need of more vitamin B, but quite frankly if you were trying to think of a method to get me to do Absolutely Fuck All about the matter, this is almost certainly the best way to go about it.
After an hour and a bit of confusion, bemusion, amusion, and utter incomprehension (with a healthy dose of how-long-can-I-tactful-wait-before-blogging-this expectation) I walked out of the door, being English, saying nothing, handing over folded notes and saying I would phone for my next appointment when I knew I would never see this wheat-free fruitloop or her massage table again.
At the bus stop, alone, in the searing heat, I shook with laughter until I feared that a bit of wee might come out.
I thought about her later, at home, tucking into teatime snacks of toasted rye bread, vegemite, basil and sliced tomato with olive oil. I thought about how Id felt, how Id been fooled, how Id almost fallen.
I wandered into the kitchen to find some wheat.