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Lying on the table, I couldn’t help but panic. The last words the doctor had said to me were, “Rest now. I’ll be back shortly to check on you.” I tried not to count the needles. Two in my feet, three in each arm, one in my head, two in my hands. Stop it. Just stop it. One in my stomach. One in my thigh.

I felt a full blown panic attack coming on, but there was nowhere to escape. How was I supposed to rest with needles sticking out of every body part?

“Well, you’re a mess,” the doctor announced on his return. It wasn’t surprising news, it was just surprising news from a doctor. It’s usually not their style. But then again, Dr. Dan wasn’t quite conventional. Other than wearing a white exam coat, he swore like a sailor and preferred using needles to prescribing pills. Pick your poison I suppose.

It all started when the sores in my mouth became overwhelming. I couldn’t eat salad, chips, anything for that matter. All I could do was sip on tea and try not to run the statistics of people who’d died from herpes in the trials through my mind. But the fact kept running through my thoughts like a ticker on replay. “Five people in this study died from herpes infections while taking this medication.” The thought was heinous. Death by herpes. I was petrified enough to agree to an impromptu meeting with my in-laws’ family acupuncturist.

“Yes,” I gave a nervous laugh, “I guess I am.” I expected to see him chuckling as well as he reported the grave news. But he was stone cold serious in his delivery. The words echoed again and again, “You’re a mess.”

He continued, “You’ve been mistreated by doctors for your entire life.” He was right, I had been. But I had never said those words, in fact, I’d only known Dr. Dan for 15 minutes before he starting poking me with needles that sent pains shooting up my legs and into my feet.

“Your husband is waiting downstairs. We ran a bit over since you looked so restful,” he said. Restful? You mean paralyzed with fear?

“He will explain the detox to you,” Dr. Dan stated. It was a fact, not a question. “You will complete the two weeks and then report back to me.”

“A detox?” I asked. This wasn’t what I was expecting, at all. “Yes, gluten free, dairy free, many of my patients respond well to it. We need to start from scratch. Until you complete the detox I am just guessing on how to best treat you,” he said, scribbling notes as he talked. He was so doctorly, and not doctorly, all at the same time. He spoke with the conviction that I was used to hearing from his type, but the words and techniques were completely foreign.

Well, then, I guess I have no choice. I joined Aryn who was waiting for me at the medicine counter holding three large containers and a pamphlet.

“Honey,” he said, soberly breaking the bad news, “You can’t have any ketchup.”