As I sat in Dr. Wu Jiaqi’s office, he felt my pulses in both my wrists and declared that my pulse was weak. I thought about explaining my intent to take up jogging, but it was clear that was not what he meant. Further examination of my abdomen led him to pronounce that my intestines were cold and that he was going to make them warmer – as they should be. This was not my first foray into Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), but this was my first time seeing Dr. Wu who is working out of the new Oasis Hospital near the 798 Art District. In TCM circles, I’ve heard phrases like hot, cold, strong, weak, wet, and dry used too describe symptoms before. I always feel like something must be getting lost in translation with these explanations and it was clear that Dr. Wu could sense my lack of understanding, so he added that I have stress in my abdomen and he was going to help my nervous system to relax so that the symptoms would diminish. Specifically, he was looking for at least an 80% reduction in my abdominal discomfort and, hopefully, I’d gain a bit of weight too as he clearly thinks I’m also too skinny. He’s in good company there.
Previously, I’ve tried all manner of treatments for my tummy troubles, but this was the first time I was trying Chinese acupuncture. Dr. Wu is renowned for his needle skills (especially for people who are over-weight or suffering hair loss) and he even practiced acupuncture for many years in the USA before returning to China. To date, I have received four treatments, each lasting about one hour (approximately 30 minutes on each side). In my case, he determined that I needed warm needles, so he hooked me up to what appeared to be a very sophisticated machine for ensuring that I received the correct amount of current and was not electrocuted. It may look painful, but most of the time I did not feel any pain when the needles were applied (an occasional twinge) and the heat from the electric current actually felt very soothing. An infrared heat lamp was also used to warm the area during each treatment.
After the first round of acupuncture, I didn’t really notice any change, but each subsequent treatment left me feeling better and better. My appetite improved, my gut felt much more relaxed, and when asked by the Dr. Wu, I could honestly say that my stomach did feel warmer – even a week after the treatment. It was a strange realization for me, as I had never thought about the temperature of my gut before. It’s nice to have warm fuzzies again.
TCM treatments seem to rarely be isolated, so next time I will write about the herbal remedy that Dr. Wu had the TCM pharmacologist brewed up for me.