Saturday, March 25, 2006

Chinese Traditional Medicine

oh my gosh i just came from this totally freaky experience. it all happened so fast or i think my my pragmatic side would have taken over and refused. my morning started out just like normal and i went to teach my beginners adult english class. when i got to class they all saw that i was wobbling around due to my ankle. they asked if i went to a doctor and i commited the cardinal sin in taiwan of telling them i hadn't and i didn't plan on going to one. i tried explaining that i've done it a hundred times in my life and it just needs time to heal. these four women would not listen to me they basically went on and on giving me lectures about how i needed to see the doctor. one of my students eventually just picked up her cell phone and called her "doctor" friend and made me an appointment immediately after my class ended. since she had done this i figured i had to go. i figured it wouldn't hurt to have a doctor look at it or take some x-rays if he wanted (since it has been sprained at least 5x in my life). since i have been to a taiwanese hospital before i knew they were very modern, clean, and trustworthy.

on the way to the "doctor" my friend says "he is a chinese traditional medicine doctor". i still didn't panic cause i didn't really know what that was. many of my friends here use chinese medicine. they use a lot of herbs and stuff for healing and i totally will go for homeopathic medicine over modern medicine if i know it's going to work. then my other friend who came along said "i am worried about you, do you know what they will do?" i said no and she began to motion towards my foot and used violent grabbing and pulling motions!!! that's when i got scared!

we pulled up and we went into this man's very traditional looking taiwanese house. i smiled at the man but inside was shaking. he had us sit down for a minute in his living room and we told him what happened and how it hurt. while they were all conversing in chinese i began to calm myself down. i told myself, it will be just like a chiropractor, don't worry. of course i have never been to a chiropractor so i really had no clue what i was gettting into.

he led us back into this small, dark room. on one side it had an acient looking desk and chair and a huge bookshelf from floor to ceiling filled with bottles that had chinese writing all over them. on the other side was a very modern massage/chiropractor table/bed. he had me sit up on it and looked and pressed around on my ankle. i was sitting there, in typical american girl fashion, mortified over the fact that i hadn't shaved my legs this morning when all of a sudden he grabbed my leg and yanked it so that my body fell flat on the table. Now remember i'm a pretty big healthy american girl and this was some little taiwanese guy, it had to be a pretty hard yank. my two friends who came into the room with me both jumped and yelled when he did it, basically out of surprise. then he told me to stay lying down and to relax (yah right, ha) so i tried to relax as much as any person could who knows they're about to have their bones yanked out of joint. he did this a few more times and then popped my toes as well. now for most girls this is tramatic in itself but on top of all this, i HATE the idea of anyone EVER touching my feet, so as i'm dealing with the physical pain and fear i'm also dealing with my stupid phobias as well.

now i could end the story there and it would be tramatic enough but no, there's more. then he gets up and walks over to his huge wall of chinese medicines and pulls out a box of what looks to be metal hardware. i didn't notice to much because my two friends had started talking to me again and trying to tell me in english what he was going to do. neither of them could think of the english word for it so they are motioning and trying to tell me the best they could. i was trying so hard to figure out their charades that i hadn't noticed he had begun working on me again until i looked at my friends faces. both of them were now looking at my leg and wincing and moaning. i looked down and saw the man sticking a massively looooooong needle in and out of my leg!!! right then is when i knew what word they word looking for . . . ACUPUNCTURE! by this point everyone on the block seemed to have come into the room to watch the foreigner receive chinese medicine. i'm not kidding. the man's wife and son, friend, and the neighbor next door had congregated at the door all watching me wince. before i knew it i had 4 needles sticking out of my leg and ankle, i looked like a pin cushion!

by this point i finally just started laughing! i couldn't do anything else. i just thought . . . MY MOTHER WOULD SO FREAK RIGHT NOW IF SHE SAW ME. i then told my friends i needed a camera cause nobody back home would believe me. my friend thought i was serious and so she excitedly grabbed her cell phone and took a picture of the needles sticking out of my leg as well as one of me wrenching in pain when he pulled on my ankle (if she ever sends them to me, i'll post them, they're pretty hilarious). the man then continued with his procedure and would twist one of the needles around in my leg and say "does this hurt?" in chinese. i wanted to scream, "duh, you moran, of course it hurts, you're twisting a needle around in my leg!" he then left them in for a while and went over to his massive chinese medicine case again and took out what looked to be a wrap. i thought, finally, something that is pragmatic and not foreign to me. but then he proceeded to take out this huge jar of black slimy goop. he took the black slimy gloop and spread it all over the bandage. i knew exactly where that black gloop was going! he came over took out the needles and put the goop on. he wrapped my ankle and had me stand up. my audience immediately looked at me wide eyed and said, is it better??? it didn't feel better but i did notice i had better range of motion with it than i had when i walked in. i figured i atleast liked the wrap and knew it would be good to keep on for awhile. that is until an hour or so passed.

i had to return to the church cause i had signed up for an hour of prayer in the 24/7 prayer room. i figured this would be good, i could rest my ankle and get some good prayer time in. but while i was waiting my turn, i started smelling this AWEFUL smell! i looked around the room and thought, what is wrong? then i noticed the wrap on my foot was getting very warm and the color had seeped through the bandage. I realized that aweful smell was me! my turn came and i walked into the prayer room, the people who were already in there looked at me, then looked at the bandage and said, "oh it smells". hahahahahha how humiliating! luckily it was something from their culture and not mine! i apologized and they all just smiled and said it was ok, they knew what it was.

now they want me to go back tomorrow. i'm sure i'll go, if for no other reason than to get this horrific smelly thing taken off! i never did find out if the man was a true doctor or not but i must say that i am very thankful for my taiwanese friends here. i don't think i would have ever made it through that ordeal without them, however i also would have never been put into that situation if it wasn't for them. ha,ha the irony of life.