Chinese Medicine

Trip Start Aug 20, 2004
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Trip End Aug 28, 2005


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Saturday, April 9, 2005

Like two weeks ago I woke up on a Saturday morning wrecked with pain in my upper right back. The pain was so bad that I couldn't really turn my neck to either side and any bodily twisting motions were impossible. That day was a complete wash and I figured I just slept wrong. It got a bit better each day but it certainly wasn't going away. On the following Thursday I woke up and within 5 minutes of being up the pain was triple what it was on the first Saturday. So that afternoon I went with my friend Jason to the local hospital where this whack doctor tried to tell me that I needed his special Chinese massage which would consist of contorting my neck and back against his force - basically causing many more problems, and that I would need to come several times at $15 a pop (a lot for China), so after a bit J and I got out of there (I guess Chinese medical doctors are as bad as western medical doctors). Jason said there was a famous local doctor of Chinese medicine, massage and acupuncture, that is really great and that we could go the next morning. The next morning we go there and before we say anything the doc has me sit down. We never tell him the problem and he takes my left wrist pulse for about 30 seconds and then my right wrist pulse and tells my Chinese friend in Chinese, "Oh, he has a back pain in the upper right of his back between the spine and shoulder"!! He then gets up and on first attempt touched exactly where it hurts...the medical doctor couldn't find it in 30 minutes with me telling him exactly where it was and this guy hits it on the first try! He says I need 12 sessions of 1 hour acupuncture treatment...grand total $15! Then he talked about how the Wind and Cold caused it, but its a bit hard to translate into English.

Doctor Qiu (choo) has an amazing list of qualifications and is pretty famous throughout China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and was the head of Chinese traditional medicine (massage and acupuncture) for the whole country! The cool thing is the philosophy...its really good for you and goes to the heart of the problem and cures it instead of just treating it topically and temporarily relieving the pain like in the States. It can be a long process but it works and it has history on its side...it has been in practice and has worked for about 2000 years longer then western medicine has even existed!
The treatment goes something like this: I lie down on my stomach, lift up my shirt and then 7 acupuncture needles (very thin and slightly round tipped, so not like the needle you were just picturing) are placed in my back, 2 on my lower back with one on each side, 2 in my middle back with one on each side, and three in my upper back with one on each side and one in the middle, and then 2 more on my upper neck. Now what this does is activate a separate meridian (energy point) and basically has it release the localized blood and energy flow. Then the doctor brings out 7 glass jars (like the ones jelly comes in) and he lights a cotton ball and rubs the inside of each jar (this heats up the jar and takes out all the oxygen - creating a pressurized space), and then each jar is placed over the 7 needles in my back. This process creates 7 "suction cups" on my back, in essence, sucking the bad energy out of my back and allowing the blood and energy in my body to flow freely as it should. The skin under the jars rises and turns purple...pretty weird. When the jars are applied, I'm covered with a blanket for about 20 - 25 minutes and then the jars are removed, the only sound you hear is that of pressurized air releasing with the removal of each jar. Then it's another 20 minutes under the blanket with just the needles and I'm done for the day.

As I said, it's a slow process and after about 5 treatments I began worrying that there was a serious problem with my back because, even though the pain was better, it was still there. On the 7th treatment, the doctors added Chinese massage, which isn't a particularly nice or relaxing style of massage as it can get pretty rough, but I felt great after that massage and can really see now that by my last session the problem should be cured and gone.

Added 4/15 - I have now finished 8 treatments and my back still gets a little sore at times but it's so much better.

Added 4/16 - Today I didn't have acupuncture as I was invited by an Orienteering group to go hiking and have a BBQ in the mountains (next journal entry) and it was fantastic! I was myself again running around and causing trouble and had no problems at all with my back!
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