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Published: April 12th 2011
The Bearded Ones
Outside the TCM hospital with a statue of the famous Chinese physician and scholar Zhang Zhong Jing. Not only was he and herbal master, but he had style too!
I just finished my first shift at the TCM hospital here in Chengdu. I was in the inpatient pediatrics department. What a different experience to the Children's Hospital in San Diego. Myself, 3 other students, 2 translators, a doctor, and 7 kids with at least 1 or 2 parents with them were in a room that must have been about 12 x 20 feet. The kids were in old metal cots/beds that have seen better days. They were each hooked up to IV fluids, mostly in their hands, but a few with the IV in their heads. We took some time and met with each child/parent to get a history of what was going on with the kids. The youngest we saw was just under 2, the oldest was 7. Most of them were a bit scared of us strange looking westerners, especially me with my beard and topknot standing at least a foot taller than the tallest person in the room.
To say that conditions there were cramped and uncomfortable would be an understatement. Nonetheless, we observed as the doctor listened to lungs, looked at throats and tongues, and took pulses. We got a chance to take some pulses and look at tongues as well, and I got a chance to look into a little boy's throat with a tongue depressor. I was informed shortly thereafter that the doctor thought my technique was not very good, so she gave us a quick lesson on how to best to use a tongue depressor to inspect the throat of a kid who doesn't want to sit still. It was very informative.
With each case we were also asked what we thought the diagnosis was, and what herbal formula we would choose for the kids. There was no acupuncture there, only herbal medicine. My classmates and I did pretty well when it came to diagnosing the cases, but when it came to the herbal formulas we scored a big 0 out of 7. All of the kids there had some sort of cough, or cold, with a couple cases of bronchitis and one with pneumonia. It was fascinating to learn what formulas the doctor had prescribed, and why. It made me realize just how much I still have to learn about this medicine.
Having only spent 3 hours in the hospital, I have already learned a tremendous amount, and I cant imagine all that lies in store for me over the next three weeks.
On another note, it seems I am quite interesting to the people of Chengdu. I have only been here 2 days and at least half a dozen people have literally stopped in their tracks to stare at me. They are probably all star-struck and recognize me from my outrageously successful movie career. Either that or they don't see too many white guys with beards and topknots! Come to think of it, neither do I 😊
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