How My Numbness Led Me Into A Love–Hate Relationship With A Tool

How My Numbness Led Me Into A Love–Hate Relationship With A Tool

macbook air on brown wooden table
Photo credits: Unsplash, Mikey Harris


Since April, I have been working from home. Remote working has truly blurred the lines that separate work from my personal life. And with that, comes its own set of problems. 

Due to the fact that I've been working non-stop on my laptop for an extended, undisclosed number of hours a day, I have subjected my aching nerves to send me an SOS with increasing occurrences where I notice my hands are feeling tingly and numbed.

So I set out to do what all digitally-savvy, educated people of this generation would do: search for the symptoms online. 

And according to WebMD, I already have carpal tunnel syndrome. 

But I remained skeptical. So I went to search for massages instead.

That mini online research brought me to learn of a massage known as an orthopedic massage. 


How this worked was that this massage aims to stimulate the meridian channels and acupressure points, using varying rhythms with a specialised tool known as the Bojin (拨筋) tool. 

This is how a Bojin tool looks like. 

After shortlisting a couple of spas, I decided on the one with best reviews (and importantly, known for no hard-selling of packages). 

On their website, they claimed that this massage is "proven to resolve a wide range of conditions", and that included numbed hands. 

So I booked an hour long session as they were currently having a trial 1-hour promotion for SGD$55. 

white plastic pump bottle beside pink tulips and gray towel
Photo credit: Unsplash, Camille Brodard


When I arrived at the spa, there weren't many people around - just 2 receptionists and another female customer who just arrived before me. Of course, because of the social distancing measures in place, no one was allowed to sit and wait. So all visits were strictly appointment only, which I truly appreciated. 

As I checked-in, the receptionist cautiously informed me that I will likely see bruises after this session, while studying my face to observe for any signs of hesitation from me. 

I looked almost too confident, and was well on my way in. 

They also got me to choose 2 out of 7 treatments areas, to be massaged for the session. Since the session was an hour long, each selected area will be treated for 30 minutes. 

These 7 areas of treatment were for headaches, stiff neck, lower back pain, stiff shoulder, sciatica, numbed hands and tennis elbow.

And since I was there mainly for my numbing hands, I naturally chose that first. 

As I told them I was constantly battering my body by sitting for extended periods at the laptop, they advised me to choose the neck area to be worked on as well. 

I agreed.

man massaging woman's body
Photo credit: Unsplash, Toa Heftiba


Like most spas you visit, the main corridors were tranquil and somewhat dim. 

I was led to a neat and cozy treatment room by my smiling masseuse, who gave me some privacy after she told me to take off everything I wore above the waist. 

After I did that, I was guided to lie in the prone position. 

And look, I am a chunky Asian woman, who is fat-chested. Sure, I'm uncommon, but I exist.

Some people say, it feels so good to be sleeping on the front with the head face down. I never understood what was great about that. It was just so uncomfortable for me. 

So you can imagine how I saw the flat massage table as my enemy for the coming hour. I expressed concern for that and my kind masseuse sought to make me feel better by offering me a softer towel to cushion the twins. And then, I was ready to proceed. 

It all started with her oiling the areas where she'd be using the Bojin tool on. 

For me, it's all about mind over matter. So I forced myself to relax, only to have her massage strokes intensify on my back. 

So I devised a plan to yelp softly like an injured puppy every time she made me hurt. It was my only hope of getting her to be more gentle on me if she did take pity on my cries. 

I was counting on her to show me some grace, in what seems to be a very dark, tense hour of my life. 

beige dog lying on brown wooden parquet floor
Photo credit: Unsplash, Ana Martin

Well, there were times she would be light-handed after hearing my purposive whimpers, only to press down even harder when she noticed me heaving a sigh of relief. 

I have never, in the history of massage sessions, kept awake throughout. But this one, oh boy, it kept me on edge from start to finish. 

And like every toxic relationship, I try to convince myself of the possible benefits while suffering the pains from the hour-long inseparable marriage between my aching body parts and the Bojin tool. 

pink breathe neon sign
Photo credit: Unsplash, Fabian Møller

As the massage session was seemingly almost done, she told me to turn over, and I was glad that my girls could finally catch a breather. 

She then covered my eyes with a clean towel, which baffled me. 

But the answer to the towel was about to be revealed. 

Shortly later, she pressed down on the nerves in my forearm. 

And like a lightbulb that flickered on inside my brain, I finally understood that the towel would used to soak up the teardrops streaming down the side of my face as the nerves from my injured numbed hands finally receive some well-needed yet overwhelming sudden attention. 

As she continued to massage the nerves on my forearms, I could literally feel my middle finger twitching along to her rhythmic pressing. 

At that point, I just wasn't sure anymore if it was a jerk reaction to the massage, or a signal sent from my brain to describe the current situation I was in.

Masseuses are scary. And they are certainly the last group of people I ever want to offend. They know exactly how to make you squirm in pain, pressing down on areas which render you useless for the next 10 seconds, and you can't even blame them, because it's done all in the name of health.

When the hour was up, the masseuse got me to sit up as she gave a slight, final push on my back. 

And to be honest, my shoulder area no longer felt super tense, but much lighter, and somewhat... airy. Like a heavy stone was lifted off of it. But I also felt a surge of mild warmness in my arms and a slight tingly feeling where she worked on. She assured me that it's perfectly normal, and ended the session.

She gave me an advice to drink more water before exiting the room to, once again, give me some privacy as I put my clothes back on. 

woman with blindfold touching her neck
Photo credits: Unsplash, I.am_nah


I head outside to the reception and proceeded to settle the bill. 

And true to what the spa's known for, there were no hard-selling of packages. So much so that it wasn't what I usually expected. 

So I asked, "Wait, so, that's it?"

And the receptionist replied with a smile, "Yes, that's all."

But seriously, not even a 'see you soon again'? Well, that almost made me beg for a package. 


When I reached home, true to their word, I did end up with a partially reddish, bruised back (and even some on the arms). I was also feeling soreness in my massaged nerves, but I wasn't that concerned though. 

As with every successful massage, soreness should only last for the next 1 to 2 days. So I set out to monitor it, and by the 3rd day, it was no longer sore. 

A week later, the bruises are mostly gone, but there's still a lingering sense of desire for the healing pain brought by the Bojin tool. 

And who knows, despite the slight objections from the twins which sprung from having to meet their nemesis again, I might just head over to revisit this love-hate relationship soon... Very soon. 

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The name of the spa and my friendly masseuse has been omitted for my attempt of a somewhat humorous review piece. 

And if you're equally a digitally-savvy, educated person of this generation, you probably already found this place anyway. 

Honestly, I truly enjoyed this experience. So if you already know which spa is this, please go check them out - they're pretty awesome.

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Follow me on: 

Instagram (@janelkuuu) 


This story has also been published on Medium

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