Search for sleep leads to needles

20:32, Mar 04 2014
PIN CUSHION: Western Leader reporter Kelly Dennett braves the needle as she undergoes acupuncture at Living Well Acupuncture in Titirangi.

Today we're kicking off our new monthly feature - Give It A Go. Western Leader reporters are going to take the plunge, push the boundaries and try their hand at something new - a sport, a career, a hobby. This month Kelly Dennett overcomes her fear of needles and visits an acupunture clinic. 

This week is Acupuncture Awareness Week, but what exactly is it? Acupuncture originates from traditional Chinese medicine and is based on the idea that disease and pain manifest in the body when an energy line is blocked. Acupuncture points are where the energies can be unblocked. -

I'm five years old and I need a blood test.

No less than three people are trying to hold me down while I scream and cry.

Then the needle snaps while in my arm.

It's this memory I'm replaying in my mind as I drive out to Living Well Acupuncture in Titirangi.


I know acupuncture needles are small and don't go all the way in but I'm starting to sweat anyway.

Fortunately my acupuncturist Kristi McNair puts me at ease straight away.

Kristi and her husband Richard have been running the clinic out of their Titirangi home for years after meeting through their mutual interest in acupuncture.

First Kristi and I run through a few basic health questions then talk about why I'm here.

It's not to beat my fear of needles - that's never going to happen.

Today I'd like to conquer something else, my raging insomnia.

I feel silly telling Kristi about my lack of sleep when some people are battling bigger problems but she listens patiently and coaxes more information out of me.

Do I get migraines? Heart palpitations? Digestive problems?

With each "yes" or "no" she gives me a reassuring smile and then she asks me to stick my tongue out.

I'm mortified because I've just had lunch.

Apparently it's red around the edges which signifies heat and could signal an imbalance.

She invites me to lie down on the table minus my shoes and at this point I start to relax.

The prospect of lying down and closing my eyes in the middle of the work day is bliss.

I didn't get to sleep until 1am and a little kip is just what I need. True to my insomniac form it doesn't quite work out that way.

Kristi inserts a needle in both legs, each wrist and another in my forehead.

It doesn't hurt at all except for my left wrist where I expect a gush of blood to come out and immediately begin imagining the headlines of my untimely death.

After confessing that I lay awake at night thinking about work I proceed to think about writing this article when I should be relaxing instead.

Conversely, when the needles come out, I suddenly feel like a sack of potatoes.

This is normal, Kristi says.

Some bound out of the clinic and others need a nap.

I'm the latter.

I get back to the office and my colleague tells me I'm glowing.

That's enough for me to vow to have more treatments.

Western Leader