Acupuncture After The Apocalypse

Who Detected The Pulse

When Paulette was here in the office, she was the one who consulted with our patients. It was she who directed them to open their mouths so she could examine the film on their tongues. She was the one who gently lowered their hands, first one and then the other, onto a velvet cushion the size of a bar of soap. It was she who detected the pulse of qi coursing through the vulnerable veins under the skin of their wrists.

The only part of patient care I provided was when, halfway through a patient’s treatment, I entered quietly into the softly-lit treatment room and twisted each of Paulette’s carefully placed needles.

The twisting action intensified the impact of the needles, adding a mid-cycle boost to the treatment according to Paulette. Anyone could do this part, really, with less than thirty minutes worth of training. (Even a receptionist who claimed to be a screenwriter but who really had spent most of her adult life working as a sales clerk in her family’s magic shop.)

Still, in my defense, Paulette did talk to me about what she was doing. I received some amount of on-the-job education. And, of course, I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of acupuncture. You can learn a lot about almost anything from being on the receiving end.

Jill Riddell is a writer in Chicago. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and has a weakness for nature, magic, and pennies abandoned in sidewalk cracks.