China-Japan Friendship Hospital

Week one is almost done, it is a full seven days because this Monday to Wednesday is a national holiday and we will get those days off in return for working the weekend. The days are full of excitment and sometimes chaos, but I’m not too surprised by this. We wake up around 5:30am every morning and have a nice oatmeal breakfast which is quick and easy (and a little taste of home). It only takes us 10 minutes to walk to work, then we are right into the action. We work with eight doctors total, but every morning and afternoon we rotate rooms so we get to see many styles of treatment. Some of them treat as we would in Canada, but some of them specialize in some techniques we cannot use back home. The department head doctor, Dr. Li, mostly does the minor surgical procedures and treats many patients with allergic rhinitus or sinusitis. This treatment is fast and simple but strong. It involves using a special needle with a small knife-like edge to cut deep into the tissues, which he uses over the back of the neck, just under the scalp. Then he will pierce LI 20 (just beside the nostils), then he uses a long needle inserted just infront of the ear, that will feed through a small canal towards the nose. All doctors here can send for x-rays and MRIs, so we see a lot of those, and we have seen the before and after MRIs for patients with blocked nasal passages and the results are amazing. Many patients in this hospital get this treatment but we have noticed every doctor does it slightly different, and apparently this is the only hospital that does this specialized treatment so we see it a lot. The next most common treatment would be for paralysis, including Bell’s Palsy, Trigeminal Neuralgia and Stroke. The results are also amazing, and I hope to treat some of these conditions when I get back home. We saw a man yesterday who had a stroke and could not walk, but with continuous acupuncture treatment he has regained slight movement in his legs and arms…on a side note, we have noticed a lot of men who had stokes are affected on the left side…for reasons I don’t know but it is an observation. The point selection for stroke patients is generally the same among all the doctors, but we have seen with our own eyes a man who has limited range of motion in the hand or leg, but with a single needle in the area movement improves…very cool and it must give the patients and their care takers a sense of relief and hope that they will improve with persistant treatment. We also see a lot of patients being treated for tinnitus and again, the results are great. Patients will come for treatment either 2 or 3 times a week for as long as they need to see the results. Here, patients pay for the treatment out of their pockets, but it is a reasonable price based on which doctor they see and if they receive more than acupuncture (ie cupping, guasha, electrical stimulation) this adds to the price.

Some of the doctors ask us to help them with guasha and cupping treatments and to remove needles when the time is up. They will ask us what we think of a new patient diagnosis and will quiz us on acupoint actions and functions, it is great to help out and it makes the time pass by very fast when we are busy.

Today we were not so busy so the daifu (doctor) said we should work on each other, performing guasha and cupping…we now have cupping bruises and feel fantastic! Like brand new ladies! Hehe. On our way out of the hospital this afternoon, there was a lady with a cart selling plants, and June bought Mel and I an aloe vera plant for our room. We named the plant June-Bug and it makes us really happy.

After dinner this evening, our translator friend Maggie took us on the bus to a mall where we bought a basketball so we can play at the school court, this will be fun!

Every Friday night there is a movie showing in one of the classrooms on campus, put on by the English club, so we joined in on the fun. Last night they played the movie Silver Linings Playbook, and we thouroughly enjoyed it, Mel and I have declared our Friday nights date night.

Love, Nicole

Beijing, China

My classmate Melanie and I arrived here 9 days ago. June, a fellow student and Dr. Du, our professor and school director from home had arrived a few weeks before us so it was nice to meet a couple familiar faces in a foreign land. Dr. Du grew up here and studied at the Beijing University of TCM and knows a lot of people. Some of his school mates now work in the big hospitals so we were lucky to have an oportunity to see a couple hospitals besides the one we are working in. We met our translator and the head doctors over a fancy lunch, it felt very VIP. We didn’t start at the hospital until Monday so over the weekend we did some adventuring. We saw the Temple of Heaven on Saturday and Sunday we were taken to Nan Luo Gu Xiang, a local area filled with shops.

Our practicum at the China Japan Friendship Hospital will be for 6 weeks, the first 3 weeks will be in the Acupuncture department, then a week in Internal Medicine, then the Gynecology department, then finishing in the Dermatology department… From 8-3 (ish, depending on how busy they are) we follow Doctors who treat patients with Guasha, Cupping and Acupuncture. The room is set up with 4 beds and there is a continuous flow of patients being treated for a variety of conditions. Just in the last 3 days we have seen pateints treated for general back and neck pain, allergic rhinitis, stroke, digestive disorders, eye problems, migraine, weight loss, arthritis, etc. In China, Chinese medicine doctors are equivalent to Western medical doctors but the benefit of a Chinese medical doctor is that they must know both Eastern and Western diagnosis to make sure nothing is missed. Generally, a patient will check in to the hospital and go through the Western diagnosis and treatment first, but when this does not work, the traditional forms of medicine are used. It is incredible to see but overwhelming to say the least, we are exhausted by the end of the day and sleep a lot. The food is pretty good, we already have some favorite restaurants and no one has been sick. Although with the bird flu scare, some places are not offering chicken or duck, which is fine with us as we stick to cooked vegetarian meals! For anyone who worries about us here with this bird flu, please do not, the doctors are all well informed and would let us know if it is an issue.

Learning Mandarin is fun and we are making friends. The weather is cold and windy and today was the second day we have seen the sun, the pollution does get very bad some days. Our hotel is nice but they do not speak English, thankfully June knows Mandarin!

Love, Nicole