Thursday, February 17, 2011

To Learn Widely and Listen Broadly

A psychotherapist was afraid he had contracted a virus from one of his patients who had the flu. He came in and said, “I have to work very hard. I am afraid I have some bug in my chest, and I can’t afford to be sick because I am going to have my Ph.D. exam.” His face looked a very pale. I asked, “Does your mouth feel dry?” He said, “No.” I continued to ask, “What is the color of your mucus?” He replied, “A little green.”

I began to take his pulse, but it was difficult for me to tell whether is was ‘tight’ or ‘wiry’. (You know how you feel but it is difficult to define*). Eventually I felt a little sleepy so I took a break. I took the pulse again, and after struggling, I determined his pulse was ‘tight’. I asked, “Do you feel chilly or have a fever?” He answered, “I feel a little chilly.” I said, “Your pulse is ‘tight,’ and he asked, “What does that mean?” I explained: “Well, as you know, hot expands, and cold shrinks. Your lungs breathe in cold air and when the body is not able to regulate the cold air properly it tries to protect your lungs and shuts down some passages to protect the lung.”

He asked, “So, what are you going to do for me?” I said, “Let me take a look at your tongue.” He extended his tongue which, if normal, has a somewhat white coating, but in this case the coating was not enough. As he was an old patient of mine, I joked with him: “I will increase your gall-bladder qi at this moment.” (In this instance qi means courage.) He did not understand what I meant. I said again, “You are now afraid to do anything because the energy in your chest is not enough and you hesitate to do what you want to do.” He said, “You are right!” I explained to him in Chinese medical language that if your gall bladder is powerful enough, you can be brave. Now you don’t have enough energy in your lungs. This affects your heart, and when your heart is weak, that will make your gall bladder activity weak also, then it will affect your courage. He said he understood what I told him, but I told him that it would take time to understand. He said suddenly, “Dr. Ng, I don’t have much mucus and maybe the color is not green.” I said, “The nature of your problem is insufficient warmth. Unless you have much yellow and green mucus, your mucus being yellow will not affect my judgment. I know what to do.” He knew he would get better, but he asked yet another question, “Dr. Ng, what is the secret of judging properly?” I answered, “Your have to learn widely and listen broadly.”

A few days later, he came in with a smile and no flu symptoms. He had the courage to do the right things he needed to do. He asked, “How is my energy? Can you give me more energy?” I said, “At this moment, eliminating the evil means supporting your energy. Now the major job is to clear up your lungs and drive the cold out.” He walked out with a smile. Suddenly he returned and said, “Dr. Ng, I always have some doubt at first when you explain things to me.” I responded, “But you have a scientific attitude, so though you may doubt, try to get confirmation.”

*Note: Signed by Jin Dynasty (265-317 A.D.) Great Master of Pulse Taking

She Took Fifty Days to Heal Because She Was Fifty Years Old

A middle-aged Caucasian woman came to the clinic complaining that she had broken a bone, the M.D. had set and applied a cast to it, but she could not sleep well because the pain woke her up at night. She asked if I could help her sleep better. My answer was, “With my help and your medical doctor’s treatment, certainly you will benefit. I will send a message to your kidney using acupuncture. Then the kidney will pay special attention to fixing your bone. I will also prescribe some herbs which will work like glue to help you heal.” Certainly I had a TCM base to create the prescription. She accepted my help with hesitation and doubt, and that’s acceptable to me. I often have the burden of treating a new patient who shows up on their own without a referral or any background knowledge of TCM. After the first treatment, she said, “Maybe I am a little better or just psychologically better, I don’t know.” After a couple of more treatments, she was certain that her sleep had improved.

After a few more treatments, she regained even more sleep. She then asked, “How long will it take for me to heal completely?” I asked her, “How old are you?” She said, “About fifty years old.” I told her that she is going to take about fifty days to heal.” She added, “But I have already received treatments for many days.” I responded, “So you just minus how many days, and you will know how many days it will take to heal.” There is a Chinese saying which applied to her: “She believed half and she doubted half.”

One day she walked in and said, “Dr. Ng, I believe I can heal faster than you expect.” I replied, “I hope so.” She said, “Hope so means you believe me but if you say I wish, it means it’s not really possible.” I said, “My English is still not good enough even though I have been in the United States a long time. I always ask my patients to excuse me for this because I concentrate on improving my healing skills and not on improving my English.” I continued, “Even though your healing can take place in less than fifty days, you will experience that your bone is not quite fully healed, especially when you use force.” Again she believed half and doubted half.

After she received some more treatments, she asked, “Dr. Ng, if I come more often, can you make me well in less than fifty days?” I said, “I can make you feel easier and experience more comfort.” I wanted to explain to her using medical terms, but since I was unable to, I said that natural law dictates that the body’s power to heal itself slows down with the aging process. I told her to be patient, and she would be able to live normally. She said, “I still don’t understand.” I used the example of a wooden frame. If the frame collapses, you use nails to repair it. Then you have to sand the wood, polish it, and then you have to paint it. But until the paint is completely dry, you won’t feel comfortable to use it.” I also added, “and even though the frame may look dry, it won’t be completely dry until some days have passed.

Finally she understood because she worked her limb with force and did not feel pain. She said, “Oh! I see.” She asked me if she were 90 years old, would it then take 90 days for her to heal completely? I said: “I can’t say for sure, but when you reach 90 years old you can bring me a cup of expresso, then we can discuss it.” She laughed.

Finally, she asked, “How were you able to make me sleep better?” I responded, “I told you already.” She said, “I know, but why?” I said that in TCM, the kidney is in charge of the bone, so I ordered your kidney to repair your bone.” She said, “I know, but why did it take so long to heal it completely?” I said, “Your body needs a period of time to create something. If you are young, your body won’t take as long to create something. She responded: “I wish I knew the whole TCM story.”

I Felt Lazy to Bring My Cane

An old lady more than 80 years of age was referred to me by a physical therapist. She had been suffering for over twenty years. She walked slowly with the aid of a cane and as she sat down, she began to tremble slightly. I asked her to let me take a look at her tongue. The color was too red which means the body was over heated. But there was no coating which means the body’s fluid was insufficient. I also took the pulse for her. Her pulse was tiny; it should be at least three times bigger, in this case.

She began to tell me her complaint. I told her, “Your complaint is your symptom. Just cooperate with your doctor; I am going to help you get better.” After some treatments, she stopped trembling when she sat down. Then she asked me to fix her dizziness which she experienced each time she got up. “Am I going to get better?” she asked. “I hope so,” I responded. After some more treatments, the dizziness subsided.

One day she went to see an M.D. The doctor told her that her blood pressure and heart rate were much better. The more treatments she received, the more improvement she had. But the long term suffering she experienced cast a shadow and sometimes she still doubted the improvement. She asked me, “Am I really better? Do you think I am better?” I said, “Now when you sit down, you don’t tremble at all, and when you get up, you don’t feel dizzy. Also, your M.D. has told me about your improvements.”

One day, the M.D. told her to take a test, and the next day, she blamed the M.D. and said, “She makes me nervous.” I said, “Well, she is just concerned about you because you are more than 80 years old.” She replied, “Well, she still makes me nervous.”

One day she walked into the office without a cane and said, “I am feeling lazy to bring it.” The next time she came in she said the same thing, “I am feeling lazy to bring it.” After receiving more treatments her tongue color improved and it showed a healthy coating. When the cold and damp weather came, however, she complained, “I feel a little dizzy and I worry about my health.” I responded, “In such cold and damp weather, even a young lady won’t feel well.” She laughed, “May be I worry too much.”

One day she came in for treatment and said, “I feel a little dizzy; what is wrong with me?” After observing her face, I raised my voice: “If you have to take care of seven cats you won’t feel dizzy.” She laughed: “Maybe I worry too much about myself.”

Another time she came in for treatment on a very cold day and at once asked, “Dr. Ng, I am shaking a little, maybe there is something wrong?” I told her: “If you have a dog and a cat to take care of, you will feel o.k.” She laughed: “Maybe I worry too much. This morning I worried that the taxi cab would not come.” I said, “If it doesn’t come, you can just cancel your appointment.” She smiled and said, “Maybe I worry too much.”

Senior citizens need more care and comfort; they need to have someone to talk to.

The Woman Who Dared Not to Eat

A middle-age woman working at a hotel said her life was miserable. She had a constipation problem for years, each time she had a bowel movement, she had to sit for 45 minutes. But at work, she could not go to restroom and stay for 45 minutes, so she just did not eat; she told me she had no choice. I conducted the TCM examination and diagnosed yin deficiency which meant her body was not producing enough fluid. I helped her body create more fluid, and she gradually became better.

The Nurse Who Glared at People

A charge nurse suffering from an auto-immune disease came to see me. Her eyes were red, she always glared, and many parts of her body had a bumpy texture. A female medical doctor was treating her condition. The doctor knew that giving her drugs to fight the disease was very harmful to her body because the drug was very poisonous. The doctor was not willing to let her take too much, but she had no choice. So the nurse came in and asked if I could do something to help her. I told her she would be able to improve by taking advantage of both modern science and ancient science.

I told the nurse that while the poisonous drug could help fight the disease, it would also kill the good germs in her body, as well as cause other side effects. Using TCM methods, I would be able to give her body supplemental energy and help her benefit from the other treatment.

Over the course of treatment her eyes lost their red color, and the glaring and bumpiness of her skin diminished. Her medical doctor felt better and began to relax. I kept encouraging her and comforting her. We were all eager for her to stop taking the poison drugs.

Sometimes the condition re-occurred if she worked too hard, and we would all became a little anxious. As time passed, however, the medical doctor foresaw a positive outcome. Sure enough, the patient finally got much better without having to take the poisonous drug, and the three of us were overjoyed.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Wish to Live 30 Years Longer

A well-educated Caucasian man with a hepatitis problem came to my clinic.  He wanted a secret consultation with me.  His concern was to live five years longer in order to take care of his son until he was grown up.
I asked, “Why do you ask for only five years?”  He said, “I have a liver problem, and I often feel pain in my ribs.  I want to see my son grow up, then he will be able to take care of himself.”  This man came in for many treatments and his pain diminished substantially.  I urged him to have a medical check-up to see if the liver problem was getting better.  He promised to do it but he did not actually go.

As his treatments continued, he reached a point where he felt little or no pain.  Again I urged him to have a medical check-up.  He promised, but as he did not tell me anything after that I believed once again he did not go for a check-up.  He continued treatments and continued to get stronger.  One day he came in and said very close to my ear, “Dr. Ng, can you make me live 30 years longer?”  I laughed and laughed; I laughed until I started coughing.  “I’m not the right person to talk to about that,” I said.

He Could Not Sleep Without Wearing Four Pairs of Boots

An office worker in downtown San Francisco told me that he needed to put on four pair of boots in order to sleep.  It was very difficult to conduct the TCM examination, and that’s why I never asked him how could he possibly put on four pair of boots.

Each time I performed acupuncture on him, I had to give the needle at least 300 strokes before he could begin to feel it. My diagnosis for his case was kidney weakness and lack of heat. In the beginning of the treatments, he doubted that I was giving 300 strokes. I said, “Sit on the bed, and watch how I do the count.” He was amazed to see what happened to him. He also took herbs as part of his treatment.

As time passed, he got rid of one pair of boots and told me at night his feet felt as cold as an icebox. He felt that his feet did not belong to him. After some time, he asked me, “How come I feel so cold?” I explained: “The sun can warm up you body, like the sun warms up the earth. Your kidneys are not only weak, but you do not have enough yang energy (yang in this case means sun) to warm you up.

After more acupuncture treatments and herbs, he told me was able to get rid of another pair of boots.  He needed to move to other city, however, and he could not come for treatments anymore.  I hoped he was able to get rid of the other two pair of boots.

No One Can Do Everything

A successful lawyer told his employee, a young lawyer, to come and see me.  He said, “Dr. Ng, my medical doctor told me that my knee area bleeds internally when I do heavy exercise.”  I said, “I can use treatments to reinforce your knee, but there is no guarantee for success.”  He was kind of upset because his boss had recommended me so highly.  I said, “Don’t be disappointed.  No one can do everything, and it is not very necessary to do such heavy exercise.  It is just your own thought and desire that makes you over-exercise.”
Once in awhile, this young lawyer came for treatment for his knee and for other problems like stress.  He was still thinking about heavy exercise, though.  I told him I understand, and said, “It’s all in your mind; it’s a habit.  Just as you may think someone who drinks a lot of alcohol may be wasting their money, they could think you are a sports-oholic and are just wasting your energy.  He accepted my opinion and stopped feeling awful.