Monday, March 20, 2006

The Holy Vacuum Cleaner

This past weekend my stunningly beautiful wife convinced me to go see what the Chinese call a “bonesetter” or Chinese traditional doctor. These should not be confused with the Chinese herbalist who boil various plants to make a medicinal soup. The bonsetters are more like physical therapist who treat trauma where as the herbalist treat things like colds and flu.

I’ve had chronic hamstring pain, especially in my left leg since I tore, not merely pulled the muscle when I was 13 running track in Jr. High School. I’ve spent countless hours stretching and swallowed countless numbers of aspirins to relieve pain and reduce swelling. But mainly, over the years, I’ve just gotten used to the pain.

I must admit, I’m not the biggest believer in alternative medicine. In this case I was skeptical because of the explanation of the doctor as to what she was doing. Supposedly, she was replacing the bad air or spirit in the leg. To do this she combined a very vigorous, painful message with a heat and suction treatment using a machine that can only be described as a combination vacuum cleaner, hairdryer and Plumber’s Helper. This suction heat device had an official seal of the Tibetan Medicinal Medicine Society on it so, I guess, it must have been a high quality device. Kind of a Holy Tibetan Vacuum Cleaner.

I also figured, devious man that I am that if something went wrong and I lost my legs as a result of this treatment then my wife would have to be nice to me and buy me what ever I want for the rest of my life.

The treatment consisted of alternating sessions of applied heat, massage and suction. She’d use this thing that applied heat to the muscle in either a contact mode or by blowing hot air over the area she was working on. It felt like it was going to bake my leg. I mean this was uncomfortably hot and very concentrated. The purpose of this was to place good air or spirit into the leg. I was sure I was going to have burns on the back of my leg.

She would then massage the affected, but now very warm muscle. Massage is perhaps the wrong word. The idea of massage to me means relaxing, pleasant and enjoyable. This hurt. She would sort of pinch the muscle and lift and twist it. It felt like a dog was taking bites out of the back of my leg. The purpose of this was to both work the good air into the leg and loosen the bad air. I just knew I was going have bruises on the back of my leg when she was done.

After burning and twisting she applied suction with that device that looked like a vacuum cleaner hose with a plumber’s helper on the end. We aren’t talking about the little suction cups that physiotherapist sometimes use. This thing was big and powerful. I bet the people at Kirby, Rainbow, Hoover or Eureka would be envious of the airflow this thing produced. We are talking about feeling like this thing was going to eat the part of my leg that the dog hadn’t taken! This was suppossed to suck the bad air out of my leg. At the very least I thought I was going to have vacuum cleaner hickies all over the back of my leg

This whole process took about 40-45 minutes as she repeated the process several times.

She said I need to go back several more times.

As I said, I was skeptical. Having been a bicycle racer and long distance runner I know that doctors do not recommend applying heat to an injury but rather cold. Also, the goofy Buddhist philosophy explanation was absolute hokum and made me think that this was going to be a worthless, though expensive waste of time.

Amazingly, I have neither burns nor bruises and I don’t have vacuum hickies either. My hamstring hasn’t felt this good since I was 13 years-old.

What I decided was the therapy works but not for the reason the Chinese bonesetter believes. I think it is kind of like Ptolemaic astronomy. If all you are interested in is finding the time of sun rise tomorrow it works just fine. However, the reality behind the theory is wrong. But, if a Ptolemaic astronomer predicted an eclipse over Hong Kong, I would probably be safe in believing that an eclipse would occur. I have to separate the goofy from the therapy.

I think I’m going to go back and get some treatment.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Nearly Pain Free Blogger

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