Here is a rambling post with lots of back story. It's kind of a window to my odd mind.
Back Story to the Back Story: For the 2012-13 school year I signed up for $60/month to come out of my paycheck each month for the medical flexible spending account. You get reimbursed for medical expenses on a pre-tax basis from the payroll deductions when you submit receipts. This is higher than I have elected in past years, but I knew J was having surgery in September so we would have higher medical expenses than usual. Well, for some weird reason, her surgery only cost us $250 out-of-pocket (I had thought it would be more like $500), which I submitted reimbursement for. Then J and I got pink eye, with multiple doctor visits and prescriptions. That helped make a dent, but we have only used about $450 of the $720. So I need to spend $270 on medical between now and the end of August, or I forfeit it completely. Which I don't want to do.
Back Story: I wanted to find an acupuncturist. Kind of like a chiropractor, acupuncturists (at least from my experience) try to get you to come for visits multiple times per week - which is a copay each time. I don't mind being pricked with needles (high pain tolerance...bet you would have never guessed). And I figure I can get some relaxation done while I'm there. From my one acupuncture experience last year, I know they leave you in a dark room with soothing music while there are needles in you. I'll take a nap mid-day multiple times per week.
My Decision-Making Process: Did you know that there are a lot of acupuncturists in my city? I went to the provider directory, and there's something like 30-40 acupuncturists in my city. I suppose I could have gone to the lady I went to last year, but I dunno...she was kind of eh. And since I can have my pick from 30-40 different ones, I decided based on address. I have lived in this town for over 20 years, and I can pretty much pinpoint where any location in the city is just based on the address. One of the acupuncturist addresses was for the building I used to work in at my first job: the Merrill Lynch building. It was just a normal office building, but ML took up about 1/4 of the building so I guess they were important enough to get their name put up on a big sign in front of the building. They have since moved, and now I don't know what the building is called but I certainly remembered the street address. I hadn't been in that building for 18 years because I haven't had a reason to go into it. Now that I had a reason to go in, I wondered how it changed...or how my perspective has changed. You know, kind of like when you go back to your old school after being gone for so long and you see it with different eyes. I called, he was willing to schedule me during lunch in a few days, and I was looking forward to my first acupuncture visit with him. I stated my reason for going was allergies because I thought "using up my flexible spending account money" may not be the best response.
The building didn't really change much in the past 20 years. With ML not there anymore, they converted their portion of the building. At some point it was a dentist's office based on what I saw when I drove past about 10 years ago; now it looks vacant. I put my nose to the glass and saw empty rooms. Kind of sad. Other than that, the smaller offices rotated names after all this time, as you would expect, but the layout and lobby seemed nearly identical. Maybe new carpet at some time along the way, but doors and trimwork were definitely the same.
Acupuncture--the reason I have been visiting this building twice per week for the past two weeks--is intimate. Intimate in both the literal and figurative way. Maybe it's because he's a guy that it feels kind of awkward. But I think he does his exams different than the lady last year. He runs his hands down my hands and legs. The first day I just happened to be wearing a skirt, sandals and a t-shirt. But it was nice happenstance because I didn't have to take off any clothes and put on the hospital gown (which would be even more uncomfortable for me). His hands went up up up my naked legs and down them, almost like kneading me. He asked me embarrassing questions. The whole things was very...intimate, as I said.
To make things even more ... intimate, he's the only person in his office. He's the receptionist, insurance biller, acupuncturist, medical assistant. As in, you would have to scream really, really loudly to get anyone else's attention in the event that something weird happened. The offices next to him are vacant. So your scream would have to go through three walls between the exam room in the back to the hallway, all the way down a long hallway, and through the door to another office.
Every Monday and Thursday I have a few rules:
- Must shave my legs in the morning.
- Must wear a skirt and sandals.
- Must wear short sleeves or a shirt where the sleeves can be rolled up.
- He always asks me how it feels as he runs his hands up and down my legs. I must say the standard, "Fine" instead of "OMG, this is weird to be in this tiny room with you and a thermostat that says 75 degrees with your hands going up my skirt...but you're kind of cute, so I suppose I should just relax and go with it."
He's kind of compulsive with his hand sanitizer, which I kind of admire because gosh I like his germophobe ways, but I'm thinking acupuncture might not be an ideal occupation for a germophobe. And then I wonder if he uses more hand sanitizer with me than he does with his other patients. Am I grimy?
And then I add a couple new rules:
- Wear twice as much deodorant as I usually do.
- Rub hand sanitizer all over my exposed skin before I go there just in case the 4 hours since my shower have made me a toxic mess.
I have more rules for a visit with my acupuncturist than I did back when I was dating. Seriously.
As far as the acupuncture goes, which is why I am there after all, it's okay. He does this test on me every time I visit. It's with electrodes and meridians and other things I don't understand. Apparently this test tells you all about the imbalances in your body. The first visit I was really interested until I got the results: bad heart (not my real heart, but the meridian going to/from my heart), my spleen, my lungs. I got this weird "report" that didn't really say anything. I guess it kind of gives a Western diagnosis to Eastern medicine. Basically it said my symptoms will be fatigue, stress, and anxiety. Which ARE my symptoms, but isn't everyone else in the country tired, stressed and anxious? Ah well, acupuncture is supposed to cure all that.
On the second visit he re-did the test, and I was like a completely different person than I was on the first visit. I had completely different organs that weren't not balanced. On my third visit he re-did the test again, and now I'm back to my first visit's imbalances. Let's just say that now I'm skeptical about this whole thing when the readings are so different from day to day.
Does acupuncture work? Heck if I know. I changed allergy medicines, and I do feel better. But it's hard to determine if it's the switch in medicine or acupuncture. But I'm keeping with it because, after all, I still have about $200 to spend in co-pays that I need to get reimbursed for.
The Lesson: If you're torn on how much to put in your flexible spending account, go low instead of going high.