Once upon a time, I sought a future in educating children. I majored in Liberal Studies: Elementary Education, and acquired employment within an elementary school district. Shortly after, I began having children of my own, abandoned the prospect of being a paid educator, and put all my efforts into my own kids. However, I have been volunteering in their schools for the past 10 years, and seem to have a good rapport with youngsters.
When I began my education in Chinese Medicine, I was unsure about the area in which to specialize. Recently, my business partner suggested that I pursue pediatrics. I have been using this medicine with my own kids and the children of friends for several years anyway, so I decided to open myself up to the possibility, and am currently signed up to do an internship at Rady Children's Hospital next term.
There are many alternatives to needle insertion that employ the principles of traditional medicine. Though my older daughter (14) accepts a limited number of needles in select areas of her body, and is compliant with patented herbal formulas; and my younger daughter (8) will, if caught in the right mood, accept up to 4 needles on her lower legs and feet, they both prefer press-seeds, massage, and fire-cupping, and always love select, (tasty) raw herbal formulas that I serve as "tea." In addition to the education and experience I will receive during my internship at Children's, I expect to learn Shonishin, a Japanese acupressure technique, and look forward to implementing it into my private practice.
I've just returned from a month in Sichuan, China where I completed 88 hours of study at Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (and trekked a 10,000' mountain- my first ever!) My focuses in acupuncture, tuina (massage), and internal medicine included gastrointestinal, geriatrics, oncology, and pediatrics.
It was reassuring to see that what I have been learning these last four years is exactly what is being practiced in China. Though I do not speak Mandarin, and very little English is spoken in Chengdu, those of us in the hospital were definitely speaking the same language: TCM.
A major difference I observed, however, is patient compliance. In China, patients will go in for daily treatments, 5-7 days per week for a month or longer; however long it takes to resolve their condition. Acupuncture and massage is performed on people of all ages including infants, and herbal formulas are taken as directed. By contrast, in the U.S., we are lucky to see patients once per week, and it's rare to treat someone who actually takes their herbs. It's unfortunate because, if administered correctly, this medicine works.
I signed up for yoga at a community college because I need a class to help me hold myself accountable since I sometimes let my home practice find its way to the proverbial back-burner, but I am budgeting for China. The most affordable private studio in town runs $75/ month, unlimited, which is a great deal, and happens to be at one of my favorite local studios, but more than I am willing to spend. After registering for school, and paying the mandatory health fee and per-unit tuition, I am entitled to two 90-minute classes per week for five months, plus free to low-cost health services for a total of $66. Not bad.
It turns out that the yoga, itself, leaves some things to be desired, but there are other valuable things to be gained from this experience. Because it is a college course, students are required to learn more than just asanas and vinyasa flow. Each class begins with a 10-15 minute lecture (so we really only get 30-40 minutes of actual yoga), and the homework requires students to learn about our bodies, including our diets and exercise habits, and how we are affected by them, so I am privy to a nice, abbreviated review of things I'd learned in Nutrition and Science classes. In addition, I have found My Fitness Pal to be a useful tool which I can access from my computer and mobile device. It, too, helps me to hold myself accountable for my health.
Most recently, we were encouraged to have our blood pressure taken at the Health Services office on campus. Had this not been assigned, I may never have learned where the office is, nor what services are offered, because I monitor my blood pressure on my own. When I signed in, I noticed that there were several options to explain the reason for my visit. One option was "blood work." Who knew that, for $40, you could get a complete blood panel done? After having my blood pressure taken, I decided to have blood drawn. Because I had to fast 12 hours beforehand, I decided to go in later in the week. (No appointment necessary.)
I will receive my lab results Monday when the nurse goes over the numbers with me. In the mean time, I will be nursing this mess she made of my arm. Ouch!
Beginning next week, I will be assisting Tracie Livermore as she teaches Stretching and Traction, a massage class offered at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. I am looking forward to refining my classroom skills which have been on hiatus since I was employed by South Bay Union School District in San Diego, followed by an after-school science program through which I taught at various elementary schools in San Francisco in the mid 1990s. (Yes, it's been awhile!) As an added bonus, I expect assisting in the classroom will provide the opportunity for me to pick up several more stretching techniques than I currently employ in my private practice. ...More tools for my healing toolbox!
I've decided to explore Chinese Medicine in its place of origin by participating in a certificated clinical training program and attending lectures at a Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital during the months of April and May, 2014.
The cost of the field trip is $3250. This includes a student visa, round trip air fare from LAX, transfers, hotel accommodations, and breakfast. Additionally, I will need to budget for personal expenses such as lunch and dinner, and any sight-seeing I will be doing abroad. And, although we can get plenty of products made in China right here in the United States, I imagine I will be shopping for a few souvenirs. I've spoken with several colleagues whom have participated in previous trips and they estimate $700 is a conservative budget for these expenses.
This will be my first time traveling internationally (excluding Baja and a childhood trip to Japan via USN) and I will need to purchase a few items beforehand, including
I've also been warned that public restrooms are holes in the ground that are not equipped with, well, anything, so add toilet paper and hand sanitizer to that list!
I will be living on an even tighter budget than usual from now on in order to make this trip happen, so if you're feeling generous, please click the button below and know that your donation supports my education and is greatly appreciated! 谢谢
California Licensed Acupuncturist and Certified Massage Therapist; mother of two; dancer, yogi, hiker.