Tag Archives: TCM

The Physician at the End of the 63

The 63 is a bus route that connects the Changzhou central train station in Tianning to a more remote part of Wujin near the eastern city line with Wuxi. The area around the southern terminus of this line looks deceptively simple.

Arguably, this is a part of southern Changzhou that has a decidedly small town vibe. This part of the city reeks of “nothing to see here.” This is both true and false. First, there really isn’t much to see at the end of the 63 bus route, but there is a personally complicating factor for me. Taking this bus to its final destination resulted in my learning more about Chinese culture.

Yes, this is a relatively small temple with a Guanyin statue out front. The temple doors were shut, and I was not able to enter and look around. I did, however, try research this place a few weeks later. That simply involved learning this place’s Chinese name — Hua Tuo An 华佗庵 and slapping those Chinese characters into net searches. As it turns out, Hua Tuo was a luminary in Chinese medicine.

This doctor lived during the Eastern Han Dynasty; he was born in what would become modern Anhui and died in 208 BCE. In Chinese history, he was the first physician to employ anesthesia during surgery. That likely involved spiking potent alcohol with a couple of herbs and making the patient drink the resulting elixir before cutting them open. Hua Tuo also preformed trepanations — boring holes though a person’s skull to gain access to a person’s brain. His acumen as a doctor and a surgeon was legendary during his life. Cao Cao is perhaps one of Hua’s more famous patients in this regard. This warlord paved the way for the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history.

Any old guy who has been near a gaming console over the last twenty years should know the Dynasty Warriors series. It tried to make a player a combatant some of China’s most epic battles. Of course, Cao Cao is a character in those. But, let’s get back to the point.

At one point, Cao Cao started to experience hallucinatory headaches. As concerns over his health mounted, he demanded the best doctor alive tend to him. For reason that I can’t easily find, Hua refused to to treat Cao as ongoing person doctor. While seemingly universal thousands of years later, the Hippocratic Oath just wasn’t a thing in Ancient China — save life whenever you can, and Hua had none of that. Hua continually refused to treat Cao — he made up excuses that involved tending to his allegedly infirm wife. Cao figured out he was lying and ordered his execution. Hua didn’t relent, so he was put to death.

Of course, I’m glossing over this story in the most simplest terms. But for me, it’s a strong reminder of one thing. When you are a foreigner living in a land like the Middle Kingdom with an absurd amount of history, taking a bus like the 63 to the middle of nowhere Wujin will still teach you something, if you look hard enough.

A Cautionary Tale


“You haven’t been updating your blog quite a while. Is anything wrong?”

I have heard this in last couple of weeks from people in person and via Wechat. The answer is usually the same. So, here has been what is up with me, lately.

The body and mind craves routine and pattern, and sometimes, when habitual things become disrupted, it’s hard to try and find that sense of balance again. About a month or more ago, I hurt my foot while writing something extremely meaningless for money. It may sound silly, but a person really can hurt themselves while writing. Being a writer requires long hours in a chair staring into a laptop monitor. It’s the incremental drip-drip of bad posture over a prolonged period of time — especially if you are sitting with your foot in a bad position. Like this…


Because of this, I woke up one morning back in October with an extremely sore foot. It’s an affliction I like to call “Writer’s toe.” Essentially, after a long time in a bad position, the ligaments in your foot become sprained. It makes it hard to walk. You end up limping for a few days and it goes away. This was not the first time I had this, and it likely will not be the last. Instead of staying off my feet and letting those inflamed ligaments heal, I did something very stupid. I was up against a deadline for a magazine article I had to write. It was about Wuxi, and I needed pictures to submit with my text. So, I had to get on a train, go to Sanyang Plaza and take photos. For five hours, I limped around Wuxi with my camera. To make matters worse, I had to go to Qishuyan the next day on something related to my day job. More hours of walking on a bad foot. The day after that, I couldn’t walk. At all. But, like the hardheaded moron I can be sometimes, I tried to go on with my day to day life without properly resting and staying off my feet.

Then, I made matters even worse. This is the “cautionary” part that the title of this post refers to. After weeks of hobbling around Changzhou, I decided to let a traditional Chinese medical doctor “fix” my foot for me. He explained what he wanted to do via Wechat, and the translation function garbled it. I really didn’t understand what I was consenting to. He first gave me a general massage, and that was relaxing. Then, he started scraping my food with a piece of plastic. That was a bit painful. Then, he started stabbing my afflicted toe and ligaments with a push pin. It was excruciatingly painful. When I looked down at what he was doing, I saw he was squeezing out blood — almost as if he were milking my big toe. As a result, I limped out of the massage place in more pain than what I went in. More time went by, and I finally listened reason. I spent a lot of time on my sofa watching horror and sci-fi movies and eating delivery pizza. In short, never let a TCM doctor do something to you when your really don’t know what he is actually telling you. Had I knew he wanted to do actual bloodletting, I would have said no.

So, this issue with my foot was one matter. The other issue is balance in life. Once a routine becomes disrupted, it’s hard to put it back together. Plus, I have been trying to add new routines to my life recently. I also have monthly column in Open Magazine, and there are other things like Steemit.com where I have been blogging for money. I am going to the gym everyday, and today I saw that I was down to my lowest weight ever in China. Yay for me! Also, I am trying to learn a lot more about the technical side of computers and technology — which means my mind has been swirling with talk of motherboards, PCI slots, and driver software as of late. So, really, it’s a case of trying balance all the new behaviors and endeavors with the old ones of like my love of wandering.