Chinese Medicinal Treatments
Yesterday was one of the worst days of my life.
My neck hurt so badly after our adventure at the Magaliesberg Canopy Tour, that I finally contacted my friend Alice and asked if she knew of any Chinese physician（铁打医师) in Johannesburg that I could go to. I never like going to such physicians because I’ve had bad memories of being tortured by them as a child but I was getting desperate. I haven’t had proper sleep and this whiplash injury had turned into a stiff torso and a pounding headache as well.
Sweet Alice drove me to the clinic.
It looked innocent enough from the outside, and the herbal and medicinal smells in the clinic were familiar. It smelled like a cross between Hong Lim Complex and Chung Hwa Clinics in Singapore. I was rather at ease. I imagined it would be a couple of minutes of very painful massage of the hurt areas and I would be done. I even looked forward to a sumptuous lunch with Alice.
The Chinese physician was a nice lady. She asked me what my ailment was and immediately told me to lie on the bed for skin scraping (刮痧）and acupuncture treatment. It still sounded pretty innocent to me. I haven’t tried skin scraping before but Alice said it doesn’t hurt much, and I was familiar with acupuncture so the needles part didn’t faze me.
To my horror, taking off my clothes and laying on that bed became my nightmare. I had forgotten how brutal chinese medicinal treatments can be. I was in trauma for almost an hour on that bed.
My traumatised look shot from underneath the table.
All pictures are in black and white. There is no way to show the pictures that Alice had taken with my iPhone in full colour because they would make my blog seem like a horror movie.
After my skin was scrapped, it was blotchy and looked like I had some horrible skin disease. Then the acupuncture needles were stuck in me and blops of “love herbs” (艾草）were placed on the tips of the needles and BURNT. The paper “trays” were placed around the needles to collect the ashes. Three rounds of this was done, and each time I tried not to whimper when it got so hot on my back and tried not to choke when the whole room smelt like it was on fire.
Burning herbs on acupuncture needles on my already battered back.
When that was over, I was so relieved, I felt tears in my eyes. My eyeliner had already smudged badly by then. But no, it wasn’t over yet. The nurse came in and removed the paper and burnt herbs and proceeded to clip wires to the needles. I kept calling for Alice because I couldn’t see what was going on and I was feeling so panicked. It turned out that they were going to send electric currents through me! Argh!
For 10 mins, I whimpered silently while the machine sent currents that made my shoulder muscles twitch and jerk. I felt my body go numb and was close to freaking out. When the timer beeped, I practically shouted for the nurse to remove the stuff from my back. She did so, but didn’t stop at that. My nightmare continued as they went on to do the fire cupping treatment (拔罐）on me. Waaaait! The Dr didn’t tell me we would be doing this… Too late. The cups were already on my back. This therapy was so scary and painful, I finally felt like a deflated tyre.
The dark blotches on my back were bruises. By the time these cups were removed, my back looked like someone had kicked and beaten me up. It had never looked so bad in my entire life. I looked like I had been butchered on that table. It was one of the most horrible experiences of my life.
I didn’t get all wimpy about it for the rest of the day, but every time I looked into the mirror, I felt like crying when I saw my battered back. I think that’s how the treatments cured my sore neck – they distracted me. For the rest of the day, I forgot to think about the pain in my neck. Which, by the way, is still there. Sigh.
I know such treatments have worked for lots of people and it’s considered relaxing for some. But no, no more Chinese medicinal treatments for me from now on.