Friday, August 31

' you have hot liver '

Today I saw Dr. Heng Seng Lim for the first time, the Chinese herbalist. 

We knocked on the door of the dark brick home, and I was instantly glad that I had Ben with me because it had a dingy, smoky and foreign feel inside. Depsite his gracious welcome, I felt decidedly outside my comfort zone. In his office, we took a seat and filled in my details at the top of a card. Lower down he began to write notes about me – in chinese characters. Unfortunately I have a terrible time with foreign accents, and I could barely understand one word he uttered.

“Peewud?” He asked first.
“Ah, what do you mean?” I replied, bamboozled.
“Peewud. Every month.”
Ben clicked and said ,’period’.

It was like that for most of the appointment, as I regularly said ‘pardon’ and looked at Ben for some aid.
He took hold of my wrist and held it in his gnarly hands for a very long time, while his loud clock ticked in my ears. I took the time to observe his certificates and awards and reconvince myself that he was not a quack. It wasn’t the pulse he had his finger on, but further over. Sometimes it felt like he was touching a nerve, but really I had not the faintest idea of what he was ascertaining from this examination. Next he moved to my back and seemed to magically palpate my many knots. My tongue and eyes were also examined, and I was grateful that he didn’t want to do anything else as I have never been a fan of physical examinations.
He noted down my tome of symptoms – well I think he did, except I didn’t know what he was writing. Finally with a big grin on his face he said,


“You have hot liver. I give you pills. You take everyday for ten days, and then you be better. If no be help, I give you stronger.”

That said, he went to get the concoctions and instructed me to seven of the little round tablets three times a day. I clarified that he really did mean 21 pills per day, as my western mind was slightly surprised at so much pill popping. I had understood him correctly. We booked my return visit for 10 days, and he bowed us out the door. 

On the drive home we threw around terms like, ‘simplistic’, ‘different to western’, ‘interesting’, ‘an experiment’ and ‘we’ll see’.  We understood nothing from either the visit or the explanation he gave of my illness, but we have been to enough doctors who seem to explain it well but really don’t know how to help, that we are open to anything, any culture, any suggested cure. So long as he has some idea of what he’s doing, I’m happy. I am not holding my breath for the expected recovery in three months, but Dr. Lim, I will be over the moon if you prove me wrong. 

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