Today the clinic was incredibly busy. One of the doctors told me that they had over 30 patients to see in just one afternoon. And each of these patients arrived with a posse of family members. To my surprise, patients were allowed to bring their family members into the office while they were being diagnosed and treated. There were sometimes two families in the office at one time with barely enough room to stand. This made the doctor’s job much harder as they were relentlessly bombarded with questions from both patients and family members. I soon realized that 30 patients really meant close to 100. I was also shocked by how there was little to no privacy in the clinic. The doctors would be treating two patients at once in the same room. As soon as these patients began putting back on all of their clothes, the next patients were carted in to be treated. While the office was very loud and overcrowded, I could tell that this was the norm. In contrast to healthcare in the United States where individual patients are seen behind closed curtains, it is apparent that in China, healthcare is to a greater extent, a family affair and families are more openly involved.
I also had the opportunity to participate in the treatment of patients. The doctors showed me how to palpate the injury and then locate the essential meridians. Many of the patients who were coming to the clinic were older and suffered from spinal injuries related to osteoporosis. When the doctors located a weak or painful point, they first swabbed the area with iodine and then used a large syringe to inject the herbal medicine into the area of the injury. The doctors explained that it takes many years of experience to be able to know where and how to administer this kind of treatment. The patients all listened to Dr. Zhao’s advice intently. They had put their faith and trust in the skill of the doctor to combine an ancient tradition (TCM) with a modern method (Western medicine) and deliver them back to good health.
Even though the doctors were busy, they went out of their way to set aside the time to answer my questions and explain aspects of TCM theory that I did not understand. After a morning of seeing patients, they insisted that I have lunch with them and made sure that I felt very welcome. They told me that I am always invited to come back to the hospital to learn and practice more TCM. The longer I stay here, the more I am impressed by how generous the Chinese people are. They will go at great lengths to help you while asking for nothing in return. I have been told in that in Chinese culture, being a warm host brings good fortune. However, I believe that the Chinese have also discovered that there is great pleasure to be had in helping others and bringing happiness into their lives.