Since my first post about my trip to China, nearly a month has past. As you may have noticed, I wasn’t able to keep up with posting on this blog every week for the duration of my trip. To make up for this, I am going to write a long post about the three remaining weeks that I spent in Beijing.
From the second week onwards, my colleagues and myself became very busy. On top of our already busy schedule came more tutorials and Chinese language lessons. We also had homework to do! At the end of each day, we would go over what we learned together to help us absorb the vast amount of information we had received in the day. This was especially important for our studies on Tuī Na since we were to have an examination to conclude our training.
During the third and fourth week, our schedule remained much the same as the previous week. We were at the Beijing Massage Hospital (BMH) every weekday to study Tuī Na, clinical observation with our mentor Dr. Wang Ju Yi was every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, tutorials on acupuncture for orthopaedic problems with Yefim Gamgoneishvili was every Tuesday and Thursday evening (see Yefim’s presentation on You Tube for the 3rd International TCM Congress in Athens in 2013: http://youtu.be/ADb6Lgy-aNo) and finally, on Saturday afternoons, I had private Chinese (Mandarin) tuition to improve my spoken Chinese.
Before going further, I would like to explain more about Tuī Na. In Chinese, Tuī means “push” and Na, “hold”. This is a therapeutic massage and, like acupuncture, is a main branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Tuī Na is primarily used for musculoskeletal problems, however it is also used for internal diseases such as headaches, insomnia and constipation. Various techniques are used such as rolling, pressing, rubbing, kneading and plucking. Used in combination with acupuncture, it makes treatments more effective.
At the BMH we spent most of our time observing and treating patients. We were under the supervision of three doctors, Dr. Sun Yin, Dr. Tang Hongbo and Dr. Wang Xingchao. The doctors were very helpful and happy to share their knowledge with us. Each doctor would see between 15 and 20 patients a day. The doctors gave us the opportunity to treat some of their own patients. At the end of our 66-hour training here, we passed an examination and received a certificate.
This experience has been really interesting for me on many levels. As well as learning a new skill, I also developed an area that I didn’t know too much about. Even if I’m primarily an acupuncturist, as a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, it is important to know about other branches of this medicine in order to respond better to patient’s expectations. Bodywork and hand manipulation were an area that I needed to deepen so I could use it more effectively in my practice.
Observing our mentor, Dr. Wang Ju Yi was also very interesting (see photo at top of page). Each morning, Dr. Wang saw between 5 and 15 patients, depending on the morning. Many of the patients had common ailments such as insomnia, acne, back pain, headaches or upset stomach and diarrhoea but a few others had conditions that are less commonly seen in Western acupuncture practices, such as rheumatoid arthritis, facial paralysis, lung cancer, tinnitus, varicose veins, trigeminal neuralgia.
Observing Dr. Wang was not only interesting because of his extensive experience, but I also had the occasion to see acupuncture being very effective on severe conditions. Regarding the lung cancer patient, the treatment slowed the progress of the disease and helped her to cope with the side-effects of heavy treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Tutorials on orthopaedic acupuncture with Yefim Gamgoneishvili were also really good. We benefited from his great experience in practicing channel examination and using it to diagnose and to treat orthopaedic problems. I now feel even more ready and confident to treat these kind of problems in my clinic.
Finally, I wasn’t expecting to speak Chinese overnight with a few Mandarin lessons on Saturdays, but I was motivated by two aims. The first one was to be able to communicate better with Chinese people, particularly with Dr. Wang, and the other is a more long term aim which is to be able to read Chinese and the acupuncture classics.
I returned to Dublin on 20th November and have already started to integrate everything I have learned over these four weeks into my practice. It’s exciting to have new skills that will really enhance the treatment patients receive and to come home with even more belief and confidence in what I do. I am also very grateful to my colleague Mary Muldowney who took care of my patients while I was away.