November 16, 2015

Dr. Chao and his magic medicine

I've been in Hong Kong now for five days, and each day I work towards convincing myself that I actually live here and that I'm not on vacation. Every day there are moments of "WOW, this is my city now!" followed rather quickly by "Holy cow, why did I think moving here was a good idea?" It's safe to say my heart and head aren't fully in sync with the move quite yet.

Five days in, I can't say I've had any monumental adventures, but I have started carving out pockets that feel a bit more familiar. The side streets in Wan Chai, the neighborhood where I am staying, are packed with little shops, stalls and  restaurants.

Each morning I set out in a different direction to find a noodle soup breakfast at a dai pai dong style cafe, which is more or less a small old-style restaurant. Breakfast is simple and inexpensive, a bowl of macaroni with ham and broth and a cup of milk tea (dark-brewed breakfast tea with evaporated milk and a bit of sugar) costs less than $4 USD. 
dai pai dong style breakfast

The morning has been the time I've felt the best, so that's when I've done most of my exploring. I arrived in Hong Kong with a nasty cold that began in my nose in Seattle and settled into a nice chest cough by the time I landed in Hong Kong. As such, a good chunk of my time has been spent in my temporary apartment watching survivalist documentaries on Discovery Channel or reruns of NHL or NFL games. No joke, I saw the second period of the Philadelphia Flyers vs. Montreal hockey game three times on two different days.

However, I am very fortunate that my good friend's father is a Chinese medicine doctor in Hong Kong. My friend is a former coworker from Seattle and she moved home to Hong Kong a few years ago. We met up on Sunday to check out a vintage market in Mong  Kok then went back to her home. She gave me some medicine her dad recommended to calm my cough. 

The medicine came in a tiny plastic bag that contained approximately a teaspoon of reddish-brown powder, she mixed it with a bit of water and told me to drink it. The mix was gritty, thick and bitter, but no worse than a shot of cheap vodka. 

Her father, Dr. Chao, arrived home an hour later.He had been in Taiwan for a week and walked in the door tired with his hands full of luggage. He immediately set down the luggage and walked over to me to take my pulse.

Then he walked away and quickly came back with a face mask on and a stethoscope. He listened to me breathing and took my temp. Meanwhile my friend and her brother were on Google Translate trying to figure out the English words for what he was describing.

Google's answer from Chinese-English was something like "hyperactive respiratory tract," which didn't really help. So then I pulled out Google Translate and keyed in "bronchitis." The English-Chinese translation was exactly what he had been describing to my friend.
Google Translate magic
TCM herbal pill packets

"Not quite yet bronchitis," he said. Best diagnosis ever.

He then gave me sets of herbal medicine to take three times a day. Each packet of medicine contained ~10 pills to help with my symptoms, six of which were the nasty reddish-brown powder in pill form.

Happy  to report that now, two days later, I am feeling much better. My cough is still a bit pesky, but I more or less feel like myself. All in, my first experience with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was a big success. 

Most of all, I feel very fortunate for my friend and her father who were able to help me out so quickly. Their generosity and kindness have been early seeds in the start of my yet-to-be-formed Hong Kong community. 

1 comment:

  1. Acupuncture needles are so fine that there is no discomfort when they are inserted but a slight tingle (known as needle sensation) may be experienced. At acupuncture-mississauga the needles are usually left in for approximately twenty minutes to more.