I was feeling tremendous relief; one could even detect a sense of exhilaration somewhere in that bundle of easing emotions. The initial gentle probing of my neck and shoulder bones had given way to some stretching, sustained pressure at a few points and, sometimes, a jolt of pain.
Nonetheless, the overall feeling was of tranquility.
Then a voice said: “It’s done!” and as a hypnotist brings back his subject with the snap of his fingers, the spell was broken and I realized I was on a clinic bed at Yueyang Hospital and the hypnotist was none other than the doctor.
My first encounter with traditional Chinese medicine was like a dream (pun intended).
Coming from India, it was easy for me to accept the efficacy and concept of TCM. India is a land of ancients, be it culture or medicine. We are rightfully proud of Ayurveda, an ancient stream of traditional medicine, which like TCM also emphasizes balance and natural healing. But, despite being in China for more than a decade, I had never ventured near TCM. And I cannot imagine why.
Anyway, I got to correct that anomaly during a recent trip to Yueyang Hospital. I have been suffering from osteoarthritis for some years now and the ravages of age have more than taken their toll on my brittle bones, especially my knees and shoulder.
I had an appointment with the youthful doctor Zhang Chao, who specializes in acupuncture, and he immediately put me at ease. Having ascertained my problem, he suggested acupuncture, massage and herbal medicine as the panacea for my ills. Seemed simple enough to me!
I have been getting allopathic treatment for my wobbly knees and creaking shoulder and while the medicines were having their effect, the fear was that the pain would come back in the future.
There is no sense of permanence with modern medicine, it normally treats the symptoms rather than tackles the cause of a patient’s discomfort. And so it was with me and therefore this foray into TCM in the elusive search for some kind of closure to the pain in the bones.
Dr Zhang, having ascertained my general condition and ailment, decided that a bout of TCM massage would at least kick start the healing process, which, I have no doubt, will take some time and lots of patience, on my part.
He bade me lie on the clinic bed and got down to work, using his fingers to probe my shoulder and neck.
The good doctor had earlier explained to me that the pain in the shoulder was related to the neck, which in turn was linked to my sitting posture — an instant indictment of my sedentary work and social life, which involves sitting in front of the computer most of the time. And so the gentle touch of his fingers allowed me to ease into slumberland even as I felt a general relief easing through the pores of my body.
Dr Zhang’s expert touch explored the points (bones) where the pain was sharpest. While going through the manipulative therapy, he explained how stretching, pressing, traction and vibrating the body areas can ease pain and bring relief.
And indeed it was relief that I felt, so much so that I may have dozed off for a few moments before being pulled back to reality by Dr Zhang’s gentle, “It’s done.”
It was not simply done, it was well done. Later, one of my Chinese colleagues exuberantly asked me whether I felt like Superman after the TCM experience. “No, I don’t feel like Superman but I feel a damn sight better. In fact I feel great,” I replied, looking forward to more adventures in my embryonic TCM journey, which, I feel, has set my bones rattling ... with relief.