Friday, October 30, 2009

Back to the

I know, I know...I said that I would blog in chronological order...but it just wasn't meant to be, folks. I apologize but I was in fact, very busy during my clinical rotations in China. I know. I had no idea either. I mean, I totally went into the "China Clinical Experience" with no expectations. I didn't want to put any more pressure on myself than was absolutely necessary.

But, to my delight, I learned so many gems and had a wonderful time in the Chinese hospitals. The doctors, nurses, and staff were supportive, gracious, and fun. They shared their wisdom and their joy with us. From them, and from my other mentors throughout my education, I was again reminded that showing love to our patients is one of the first steps in their healing. And I was also taught that compassion and laughter in the face of serious medical conditions can brighten even the sickest patients' spirits. Watching the masters in action was a complete thrill.

My first 2-week rotation was in Internal Medicine, at the Hall of Celebrity Doctors (seriously, these guys are masters!). Every 3 hour shift my friends Stacey, Tamara, and I would get to observe a Pediatrician, a Cardiologist, Gynecologist, EENT doc, Gastroenterologist or Respiratory specialist. Our favorites were Dr. Cai (peds) and Dr. Xie (GI and everything else).

I must also mention the head nurse, Dr. Cheng. Dr. Cheng was a cardiologist but felt like it was too taxing on her health. Instead, she has chosen to take interns like me under her wing and with generosity and a smile, make sure that we were comfortable and happy. She even changed our schedules so that we could spend more time with Dr. Cai and Dr. Xie. Dr. Cheng is planning to visit upon retirement...we will meet in San Francisco in 5 years. She promised!

Daegu or Bust!

Hello friends! I'm sorry that I haven't written with the verve that I had promised. I was a complete wreck after the 5 hour bus ride from Incheon to Daegu. We made one stop, during which I had a daytime nightmare that I missed the bus because I was getting snacks. I come from a snacking family and thus, am a snacker by nature. I had the wherewithal to not get snacks but I almost walked onto the wrong bus, a bus that was not there when I left to use the bathroom. The lack of cozy red lazy boys of my "limousine bus" clued me in.

As an aside, the public bathrooms here are quite lovely with western toilets, soap on a stick (actually, an astute idea), and paper towels. Ali said that due to the recent outbreak of H1N1, paper towels can be found everywhere. Anything helps, right?

Anyway, anyone who knows me knows that I cannot live without at least one beverage by my side. Well, I took 2 vitamin waters with me (oh, vitamin water! where have you been in Asia?) but alas, it was not enough. Thus, I became officially sick. Not sick enough to let on...that's the beauty of makeup. I was not going to let H1N1 paranoia (and potential quarantine) stop me from reaching one of my best friends, Ali Loercher.

Ali and Timber (her roommate and a friend of mine as well) have been taking such good care of me. For dinner we walked across the street and ate spicy Korean soup (sun du bu ji gae) at what may turn out to be the Peach Pit 2 (Saved by the Bell, anyone). We had sides of kim chee and pickled daikon radish. We were encouraged to throw some kim chee into the already spicy tofu/octopus/clam stew. Tasty and perfect for my Gan Mao (common cold). They've also taken the time to draw out a map including all necessary destinations (hair salons, of course) and Ali created a menu for me. Ali is also the woman credited for my love of tea and I've been on a steady diet of pang da hai and black tea, along with good old Yin Qiao Wan and Qing Qi Hua Tang Wan. I also was the recipient of a wonderful acupuncture treatment (GB 31, ST 36, ST 40, KI 6, SP 9, LI 4, LI 11, PC 6, LU 7) that immediately relieved my Tai Yang (temporal) headache.

And, to tell you the truth, it's about time that I slow down a little bit. Yes, I know. This is very unlike me. I've realized that Daegu with Ali and Timber is the best place I could be right now. Daegu isn't that much of a bustling metropolis so I don't feel pressure to "see the sights." And Ali is a wonderful caretaker. And, for your peace of mind, when Ali and Timber are at work, I am in good company. Ali has a cat, Fu Zi Miao (Confucius!), and she is being just as lazy, if not lazier than me. She is serving as my inspiration.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Welcome to Dynamic Korea!

So, I am now writing this email in the Incheon airport's "The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf" situated right across from the perkiest Dunkin' Donuts I've ever laid eyes on. They have a bunch of teeny-bopper celebs on the cork board and I am sipping on a blueberry/pomegranate tea which is quite lovely.

My next move? Who knows? It's anybody's guess. I have about 4 hours to chill before I can board a bus because one of my very best friends, Ali, won't be able to get me until around 7 pm. We went to OCOM together and did a short shared-living stint during my second year. She now teaches in Daegu, South Korea at the Ding Dang Dong School. Or is it Dang Dong Ding School? Shoots. Anyway, now I have the choice of blogging/reading, sauna/shower, or napping/resting.

You see, voted the best airport in the world in 2009, Incheon is very intuitive and luxurious. Yet, on the practical end, the information desk has proven quite helpful. My 2-hour flight on Asiana Air was very smooth, quite pleasant really.* I fell asleep a few times, the last of which I woke up to see a sticker on the back of the seat in front of me that said, "did you have a nice rest? let us know when you would like to eat." It was the sweetest thing.

I'll keep you posted on the rest of my adventure in the Best Airport in the World!** Lord knows I have time...and access! Sweet, sweet access!

*I did have to pay a large sum to load my second checked-luggage (all 10 kg of it). Not too happy about that but what can you do?
**Photos to come!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I think I forgot how to ride Chinese-style...

"Whoever said that riding a bike was just like riding a bike?"

Precariously white-knuckling my handle bars, I yelled these statements to my best friend, Steph, while we were riding to clinic for the first time in one week. I know, one week is not a long time. But, if anyone has ever played drive-simulating video games may have a clue as to what I'm referring to. For those who do not, allow me to break it down for you.

Riding a bike in China is first week here I thought that everyone was out to get me. I mean, me and my beautiful (albeit suspected "hot") bike and I have to contend with cars, city buses, motorbikes, scooters, and pedestrians just to get to clinic. Not to mention the fact that my full pedal, including the wrench-looking thing (ok, you got me...I'm obviously not a cyclist), has fallen off completely while on route twice.

However, there is a moral to this long-winded story. The moral is that whenever I "man man lai-it," Mandarin for "take it easy," I have a wonderful time on my bike. Cruising is the key. When I pause to look around me, I realize that the Chinese have perfected "flow." I'm not sure why this is surprising to me as I know that Chinese medicine seeks to smooth the flow of qi within the body to achieve optimal health. I just had no idea that "smooth flow" applied to most things here. I love this place!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Question #1: Beijing or Bust?

Hello again! So, three girlfriends and I are thinking of going to Beijing this weekend...what would be our last weekend in Nanjing. We are planning on taking a 9 hour train ride in a hard sleeper for about $80 (round-trip) on Thursday night, touring all day Friday and Saturday and leaving on another hard sleeper on Saturday night. We would only have to miss one day of clinic and only have to pay for a hotel on Friday night. We hope to spend 1/2 day at the Great Wall and 1/2 day at the Temple of Heaven and then explore the Forbidden City for one full day...any thoughts on this?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Begin at the Beginning

So, I realize that it's been almost 3 weeks since my arrival here. However, something about my training has me wanting to start my blog in China in chronological order. With that, please get comfortable with a nice cup of oolong tea...we have a lot of catching up to do!

Day 1: Shanghai Hustle: the discovery of coconut milk!

The 13-hour flight from PDX to Narita, Japan went smoothly. Well, except for the rollercoaster ride of a landing. But I digress. My classmate/safety buddy Sara and I shared three seats among us so we converted the middle seat into a well-utilized end table. Our fancy airplane even had wood floors! The Narita airport was much cuter than even I expected and I was taken in by the gift shop and heated toilet seats. Yes, that's right folks, heated toilet seats...

Arriving in Shanghai around 9pm, all 15 tired, hungry, and sweaty travelers (or maybe I was the only sweaty one) rolled ourselves & our luggage straight to our fancy Shanghai hotel. Honestly, it had one of the nicest entryways I’ve ever seen. My “buddy” (safety first!) and I had comfy robes waiting for us in our room, which also happened to come complete with lovely bedroom slippers. After settling in, we walked to our first Chinese convenient store where we discovered what would become the group’s non-alcoholic beverage of choice: Coconut milk!

Friday, October 9, 2009

And I'm back on the grid!

Oh, my lovely and loyal friends! Thank you so much for sticking with me and having faith that I would yet again return to the Wonderful World of Blogging! After much struggle and hardship (along with the help of tech-savvy friends), I am now able to blog.

Due to certain internet "restrictions," I had previously been unable to access certain internet sites. I hope to now put that terrible time (of course, I use hyperbole generously, but it was really hard to not have this connection that I so depend on half-way across the world) behind me and get you caught up on all of the splendor and excitement that is Zhong Guo or "The Middle Kingdom," or what we call "China." (Don't ask me how us Anglophones got to "China" from "Zhong Guo".)

Thanks again and I miss you all!