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Studying Chinese Medicine in Hangzhou, China

Classes and clinic have begun and I have already learned more than I could have ever imagined. The best part about school here is the amount of pathology that I get to encounter. I have seen everything from Parkinson’s to Diabetes to Meniers disease to Vasculitis to Bells palsy and stroke to just name a few. Acupuncture is one of the primary methods of treatment here so people with a wide range of diseases go to the clinics for treatment. We even travel to the ER on occasion to treat an acute cases there! Yesterday we ran to the ER to start needling a man with hemiparesis who had just had a stroke. The clinics are incredibly busy too and generally on a three hour shift I see anywhere from 10-40 patients. Clinics here are nothing like it is in the states. Each doctor has a room that contains many beds, sometimes with half wall dividers in between them and sometimes just right next to one another. The is no privacy and really little modestly and most patients just lay and chat, and help support the person next to them while getting treated, it makes me wonder if this isn’t one of the tricks to the healing?

One of my favorite patients was an American man who had traveled over to China 9 months earlier after suffering a massive storke that left him paralized on one half of his body, and blind in one eye. He was half Chinese and knew the power of the medicine from his grandparents. Luckily he had the means to travel over and spend 9 solid months in rehab in the Chinese hospitals. He was seen 6 days a week for physical therapy, and acupuncture, and received different Chinese herbal prescriptions every week. When I met him, 9 months after his stroke, his had full vision bilaterally, full use of his leg, and only residual hemiparesis in his first three digits. This is when I started really understanding the power of this medicine

Treatment protocols here are a bit more intense, last for longer (generally around 45mins-1 hour), and generally more needles, that are much larger, are used. Most of the time Chinese herbs are also prescribed along with the acupuncture treatment to increase the efficacy. They also use some therapies like injecting vitamin B12 and different herbs directly into the acupuncture points. I was also told commonly they would pull a patients blood and then inject it directly into an area of weak immunity where there is a rash or acne or into a necrotic tissue area. Dr. Feng told me he actually saved a women’s leg from being amputated by using this therapy. So all very cool stuff and still so much to learn that is for sure!

The training is intense I get up a 6 am to take a bus into town which takes about 40 minutes and then walk the rest of the way to the clinic. Shift last from 8-11:30 then 2 hours for lunch then back for afternoon shift in a different hospital or clinic until 4:30. After taking the bus home I usually get back around 6pm. So long days to say the least but I get to explore different parts of the city and am starting learning more about this foreign culture.