Last night, a classmate and I gave a lecture to the cardiology department about Traditional Chinese Medicine in the United States. The lecture was all in Chinese, and while I originally thought I’d be speaking with masters students, it turned out that I was actually talking to all the doctors of the cardiology department.
The pressure was on.
My classmate shared a lot of bleak data and statistics about TCM in the US. Insurance is crazy. Herbal medicine isn’t considered medicine. Chinese medicine doctors aren’t recognized as doctors. Many of the cardiologists had this kind of irritable bowel expression on their faces.
Then it was my turn to talk. I could read the room. Why would you want to practice herbal medicine in America? It was a weird, double mirror kind of feeling. After all, these cardiology doctors are among some of the best herbalists in the world. They treat serious cases with such simple, natural medicine and get amazing results. Super Heroes.
And yet, after hearing about the US environment for practicing Chinese medicine, I got the feeling that they couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to do what they do in America.
But then something special happened in that room. I talked about my history with TCM, my classmates experience with the medicine, and then about how there are so many people in the United States who are given a diagnosis, prognosis and prescription and left with no other options.
We all know that veterans with PTSD come home from wars and are given a bottle of pills. How long do I take them? Your whole life. One pill a day becomes two and then three and four and five. We know that hypertension patients are the same way. Three to four different medications a day for the rest of their lives. Senior citizens have it the worst. After years going in and out of the hospital, they accumulate so many prescriptions that no doctor can know what kind of chemistry is going on internally.
These people have no other options.
And that’s when it happened. I was talking in the most simple, derr derr Mandarin when it all became clear. It hit me like a spell. I want to give Americans another option.
I mean, sure, I’ve been studying “alternative medicine” for four years now, but I never worn this kind of perspective, never seen it so simply and clearly. Recognizing this fact may sound like a whoop-dee-doo kind of moment to you, dear reader, but for me I know it’s all about vision. If my vision isn’t clear and honest, I’m destined to blunder around with this medicine and end up like so many others, trading my herbs and needles in for God-knows-what.
But this trip to Henan has been good for me in so many ways, and while I’ve written before that I’m not expecting any more surprises, it’s obvious now that there may be a few more around the bend.