Friday, October 29, 2010

China Japan Friendship Hospital, Beijing: Acupuncture Department with Dr. Bai, part one.

Looking around a room you see four beds, two chairs and a green two seat armless sofa. A plastic statue of Mao’s bust, encased in square clear plastic,  looks on. The light pours in through two big windows either side. Near, there is a patient sitting on a wooden chair. There are other patients waiting for treatment too. You see intern student physicians in white coats standing and looking on. They look worried. A 40 year old Caucasian male is biting his lip, a female is looking concerned and another one has widened eyes. One student reaches out to comfort the female patient. She is sitting with her bare back to us, the wrong way round for how you would normally sit on a chair, legs spread either side. Her arms folded on top, head on her forearms. Her back is purple, red and blotchy from the first part of her treatment: scraping of the skin with a plastic paddle to move the energy in the body. Soon a powerful force is about to be unleashed. One fellow student places their foot on the bottom horizontal bar of the chair to create a brace. The patient says something in Chinese to the doctor. Doctor Bai hits her on the shoulder with an open hand and pushes her head further forward and down. A tungsten needle is heated red in a flame held by an assistant. Dr. Bai, standing spread legged behind, plunges the needle deep and without hesitation into the base of the head next to the third vertebrae. A cry out of pain from the patient. The smell of singed skin. Dr. Bai places the palm of her open left hand on top of the free end of the stuck, thick needle and rotates it around in a big circle, manipulating it. The patient whimpers and the spine is felt with the free right hand. Then the needle is manipulated again and the patient stamps her feet on the ground. Another open hand slap by the doctor and we are ready to begin the adjustment of her herniated disc. Dr. Bai instructs the patient to call out a giant “huh” sound. She does this by shouting a large “huh” herself and nudging the base of the needle against the skin. Her left hand now fisted and the pointing finger second knuckle placed left of the base of the lodged needle, next to the herniated disc which is protruding left internally from the spine, Dr Bai releases a giant “huh”. With this her force of strength and body weight are thrown against the needle and against the patient’s spine. Both patient and doctor give a giant “HUH”. One in effort and one in pain, the creaking chair lurching sideways under the pressure. Then again, and another time and then again and another time for good measure. The needle is taken out, red heated and plunged again. This time centrally on the vertebrae bone or possibly on the herniated disk itself or close above. With crying out and “Huh”s the process continues. After this then again on the right hand side of the spine. The previous treatment’s dark marks, and scars, giving guidance of where to place the needle again. That’s because this patient we saw had returned to endure and suffer this. Maybe five times or so. Why? One stating they would prefer this than getting an operation. At the end Dr Bai brushes her hair from her forehead and continues to the next patient for treatment.
The patient? I’ve actually never seen a reaction like it. After treatment she was positive, smiling and happy. Dr Bai’s statement:" Everyone feels ten years younger after treatment". Incredibly it’s true somehow and they keep coming back for the effective results.
At 70 something Dr. Bai is fit, strong and generous. She will do these treatments as she has seen results for this type of case possible thousands of times over numerous years. She gets excited to tell you about what is happening and she takes the time to explain what’s she is doing between rigorous treatments.
Previously the head of Acupuncture at the China Japan Friendship hospital she has reached a legendary status. Appearing on the front cover of a magazine recently she was stated as being one of the top ten people in China! She is one of Beijing's most renowned practitioners and specialises in treating complicated musculoskeletal, neurological, digestive and respiratory conditions.
Still the first words I wrote in my notebook after my first 2 hours of clinic as a reflection of what was going on were: rough, aggressive and gut wrenching. The first two days my brain was paralysed with shock!

More soon about other amazing treatments and my own personal reflections and hopefully video and pictures too.

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