Day 9: Tuesday September 29, 2010
We took a car from the university to the shift today, so we were only 15 minutes late. Traffic was heavy and riding in a vehicle of any kind of reminds me of the game “crazy taxi” with the way people here drive. I have yet to see a single accident though, and we didn’t move very fast due to traffic.
The shift was particularly interesting because we saw a patient with neurodermatitis and another with diabetes. Our previous patients are also continuing to return and seem to have gotten very good results. For example, one man’s shoulder pain is almost totally gone, another’s stomach is much less upset and her appetite better and the person with a stroke is feeling less depressed. We also saw a young lady who was afraid of acupuncture today. She agreed to let Dr. Qiao do one wrist point and see what happened.
That point was so comfortable that she let us do another point on her ankle and bleed a few spots around her ear to help her tinnitus. Next time she said we could also do abdominal acupuncture. It is interesting to see that even in China, many people who have never had acupuncture are afraid until they try it with a good practitioner. As usual, Dr. Qiao was amazingly with the patients, putting them at ease.
For lunch I went back to La Italian place and had a banana and cheddar cheese sandwich just to see what that was like. Normally I try to eat less dairy than this, but in China I feel I need to try all sorts of different food I won’t find in the U.S.. The sandwich was good, as was the hawthorn fruit drink it got. I like hawthorn (Shan Zha) because it is both a Chinese and a western herb. It is used to lower cholesterol and help the heart and digestion.
In the afternoon we had a lecture on treating mental disorders with acupuncture from a different Chinese doctor. The lecture really illustrated the difference between classes here and in the U.S.. There was no time for questions and certainly no discussion in class. The doctor wrote all the points that could be helpful on the board and had us copy them down.
Presumably if we were Chinese students we would take this list of points home and sit down to memorize it. It is always interesting learning through a translator, because it must be hard for the teacher to gauge the students’ level of understanding. Fortunately for me, I was already familiar with why and how the points were helpful for mental disorders, so I had time to run errands and so forth instead of studying.
That was a good thing, because I had forgotten to bring conditioner with me from the US. After struggling with the character lookup on my iphone for about 40 minutes, I broke down and asked for help buying it. The product I had bought the day before had turned out to be shampoo and the commercials on the loudspeaker, which were the only thing in English in the whole store, were the most tedious jingle I had ever heard. They played it every thirty seconds and eventually I was desperate to get out of there. So I had to tell the salesperson that I was basically illiterate (in Chinese), which is kind of embarrassing when I think about it. Then she insisted on helping me choose socks. I knew I wanted tall socks since no one wears bare legs here. I had found the pair I wanted but the fuwuyuan (service representative) insisted I wanted this other kind. I told her they were not comfortable and she told me that they WERE comfortable. I said I didn’t want them anyway and she showed me some short socks. I told her they were too small and she said something about my friends. I couldn’t tell if she was saying all my friends liked a certain thing or that I wouldn’t have any friends if I got the socks I wanted. In the end I told her I wanted tall socks but not the uncomfortable ones and she recommended the socks I had been trying to buy. If my Chinese was better or I was less shy, it probably would have helped. In the end I escaped, feeling she had helped me to within an inch of my life. For dinner Ross and I biked to a cheap restaurant that an Irishman in our lecture had told us about. My new socks kept rolling themselves down all the way there.
When we got to the restaurant, we actually ran into the Irishman along with Mary Jean and Jonathan. I had a very good dinner of assorted veggies and whole fish that the customers pick out and they grill.
Cold Beer included, the meal came to 11 yuan. Less than 2 dollars for dinner and beer! I am finding it is possible to drink the Chinese Beer without a stomach ache like I often get from beer in the states.
Biking back, I reflected how biking in China gives me a very free feeling, and other people have remarked that it makes them feel they really belong. We also saw a few groups doing kareoke outside near the city wall on the bike back. This is fairly common in the parks here. Maybe some day I will come back and join them. As usual, customs here feel like a strange mix of wonderfully inviting and terrifyingly foreign.