Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chinese Traditional Medicine Doctor

I used to assume that most of my readers knew me fairly well, or at least were aware of me. However, my Google analytics has informed me that nearly 75% of my visitors are random people coming via search terms. It warms my soul to know that I'm attracting people who are searching for things like "asian farts" and "chinese baby split pants".

I bring this up, because anyone who actually knows me is aware of my annoying allergies. If you are one of those people that randomly found this blog while trying to figure out how to do a mongolia visa run, be warned - I'm one of those people that has an allergy for all seasons:
Winter: Dust mites
Spring/Summer: Pollen
Fall: Mold/Mildew
All The Damn Time: Cats

I also have a range of off-putting noises to accompany these allergies: Sneezes, Snorts, Coughs and more. In this regard, I blend in fairly well here. People consistently cough and spit up sputum on the streets. Its nice to not have people look at me like a freak when I clear out my throat.

All that said, China also presents a pretty cool opportunity for someone that tried allergy shots and pills his whole life. I've all but given up on western cures for my allergies. Two separate attempts at allergy shots, for over two years each time yielded no results. Claritin and sudafed provide temporary relief but often lead to headaches. I needed to look East.

It took me longer than I'd like to admit, but I'm finally seeing a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. I'd like to transition to a doctor that locals go to, but for now I'm seeing a very expat friendly doctor recommended by a friend (shout out Jen!). Just once a week for now, but I'm already sold. Hook, line and sinker.

My first visit was diagnostic with a little bit of treatment. I told him that I had seasonal allergies and he poked and prodded me for a while. Didn't ask any further questions and then had an assistant start massaging and stretching me. After the treatment we discussed my situation and this is where he got me.

1: He prescribed a lot of hip and back stretches for me.
People that know me, also know that I've had chronic knee, hip and back issues. The stretches he told me to do and had his assistant perform on me were identical to stretches my podiatrist and physical therapist told me to do. Those guys were trying to help me run and walk without pain, however my new doctor was working on my allergies! I didn't tell him a word about my back, knees or hips.

2: He knew things about me that I didn't even know!
He asked if I'd had any head or neck trauma as a child or if I had a traumatic birth. I didn't think I had so I told him no. He insisted and told me to ask my parents. I called my mom who informed me that she was in labor with me for TWO days and there were definitely some difficulties during birth. Additionally, someone (no names named or fingers pointed) dropped me on my head when I was quite young. It does explain a lot - but it also blew my mind that this guy could tell all of this.

He then proceeded to give me a list of things I shouldn't do physically:
1: Crack my neck/back
2: Sleep on my stomach
3: Read or watch TV in bed

Along with a list of things I can't eat or drink:
1: Cold Beverages/Sodas
2: Alcohol
3: Chili
4: Seafood
5: Cold foods like Ice Cream and Watermelon
6: Garlic that hasn't been cooked thoroughly

I've done my damnedest to follow his instructions. It's made me practice Chinese a lot more because I always need to ask if food has chili or garlic in it. It's also driven me crazy - I didn't realize how much I crack my neck and back! I never thought sleeping on my back would be so difficult.

Oh and no booze. Seriously. But I'm doing it.

Veronica says I'm getting better and I think I am too. So far treatments have consisted of these massages that really focus on aligning my hips to my head (or something like that). Nothing too "extreme", like acupuncture or cupping yet. But it all depends on what my body needs during a given visit.

Last visit he wrote me up a script for some herbs for a vapor treatment and told me to go to a pharmacy to fill it. This led to my first encounter with a Traditional Chinese Medicine pharmacy. It was really cool and very different from a western pharmacy.
I gave them my script and they began finding, preparing and weighing out herbs. The then divided them up into seven different packets for me to boil, inhale and then use for sinus cleansing. I have NO IDEA what the herbs were or what they do, but my doctor told me that it should help. I trust him and will blindly boil, inhale and then use for sinus cleansing anything he tells me to boil, inhale and then use for sinus cleansing.