The Kidney Meridian

Chloe has been my client since early days. Meaning since before 1991, when I vacated my studio at the late lamented Spa Lady, which divested and fragmented and mismanaged itself out of business in all but a few metropolitan areas. She moved to the American Southwest over a decade ago, then came back to my turf over family issues, and here she stays.

She’s a creative worker. Meaning that, increasingly, she competes in what is referred to as the “gig economy,” aka “you’re on your own.” When you’re over sixty, that is not a good place to be.

A few months ago she hit a wall of some description, and ended up in the hospital with tanked kidneys. Long years of intrusive pain, lots of NSAIDs which are not balm for the kidneys, might have had something to do with this. I’m not a doctor. I just see people year in and year out.

Chloe is a natural spinster; meaning that she likes men but isn’t ready to let one dictate the circumstances of her life, at least not so long as he is any degree of an asshole, so she is on her own in more ways than one, the asshole issue being so prevalent. Our culture assumes that you will be partnered and buffered therefore and not have to face the world on your own. Yeah. Tell me another one. I didn’t find that place until a year ago, logistically, and that was altogether a fluke.

She showed up today, fresh off six days in the hospital, with its freight of neglect and humiliation: “I was throwing up, and they gave me pot roast. In July.” Hospital staff emptied the trash in her room at two a.m.; someone requiring a blood draw showed up not much later. The doctor doing grand rounds on the Fourth said: “I know you aren’t happy to be here on the Fourth of July, but so are we.” “It isn’t at all the same thing,” she told him. Good on her.

She was shaking, ten pounds lighter than I last saw her, when she got on the table. I suggested attention to the kidney points on the Chinese acupuncture meridians, though I have no robust certification in this art; just a value-added proposition. I keep an acupuncture mannequin so as to jog my memory of these loci. I’ve had acupuncture, beaucoup times, and it fixes things. Manual attention to these points has a track record. She went eep every time I dug into the kidney points. I honestly can’t say what I was doing, other than no harm. On either side of the matter, I did what was called for, work on the flanks and back exhausted by immobilization in a hospital bed.

I think Chloe is a year or two away from Medicare. At the worst, the US government has elected kidney dialysis, of all interventions, as the one that will always be funded. Dialysis sucks. I hope Chloe can avoid it. I hope to hell she doesn’t need expensive intervention of any other kind before Medicare kicks in, because none of us know what Congress can ram through to relieve obscenely, unimaginably rich people of paying taxes so that Chloe or anyone like her can live without worrying about being bankrupted by medical bills.

I had some arnica oil for the bruises from four IV sites.

And a homing instinct for acupuncture points.

It’s all I’ve got.





8 thoughts on “The Kidney Meridian

  1. So scary. I’m glad she has you to help. One of my obsessive thought patterns is what I’d do if something happened to me that would require hospitalization. It’s not a good series of thoughts.

  2. Being partnered up isn’t always a relief, either – I’m his caregiver now, so what will he do if something happens to ME? He’d be totally unprepared for that.
    Sorry to hear about Chloe. I might have to look that map up. If I can get him to let me poke at him again, that is!

    • No shit; my ex husband could not even drive a car. But it is something of a buffer even when you need a person in the room to notice when the hospital people are mistreating you.

      The primary kidney point’s in the middle of the arch of the foot. You know when you’re on it.

  3. Scary and sad. I just realized the other day I was taking too many NSAIDs again and went off cold turkey. So damn achy now, but my ears are ringing a little less. Maybe I should find a massage person.

    • Sounds like an excellent idea — of course, I’m biased.

      I’ve abused NSAIDs too. I finally quit the same way; I never feel ANY effect but I worry what it’s doing down there in the dark.

  4. Any known acupuncture points that reach the “You’re on your own” syndrome? Employment. Interpersonal. Hospital. Each iteration of “You’re on your own” lonelier than the one before. And so we cling to Medicare and Social Security.

  5. Actually, there’s a whole rubric of Jin Shin acupressure for anxiety and fear (Google Stephanie Mines), but the greater point is well taken. This whole American cult of rugged individualism has gotten out of hand. Nonverbal primate bands had a better social contract than we do at the moment. And let’s not even get into my feelings about medical care even if it’s paid for. Hospitals and nursing homes are too often like random hells where people are subjected to any indignity or humiliation in the name of “health care” (meaning: we can make money off this). Simple decency is thin on the ground.

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