A tall pink candle burns on the table next to a vase of orange and yellow-crested tulips, as the aroma of freshly made applesauce wafts near my nose. Life is good again. I’m emerging from the dark underworld of disease. I have my life back. Half the month I’ve been ill and today about five o’clock it lifted. I could speak again and felt like doing something besides sleeping and complaining to anyone who would listen.
Yesterday I went back to my doctor insisting she pull out all the stops. “I leave for Mexico in two days, what shall I do?” Nina is gentle and soft-spoken, competent and knowledgeable. “Take what I prescribe and this should be gone before you leave. In Chinese medicine they say that your liver is biting your lungs.” She inserted more needles into my body, as I imagined a big brown gooey organ with a fiery temper reaching up to nip at my lungs, like some ill-tempered dog. When the treatment was finished, she offered medicinals.
First came a sweet little bottle of tablets from Seven Forests called Qing Yin Bai Du Pian. Who knows what that means, but it’s suppose to help my lungs defend against the attack, then she added individually wrapped throat lozenges from Golden Lotus in shiny green paper with artwork worth framing stamped on each piece. I love the art and poetry of Chinese medicine. The finale came in a large red box from Hong Kong, the splendor of which is difficult to describe. The box contained a cough syrup delivered with foldout images of Chinese architecture, colored illustrations of each herb used to make the formula and a circular graphic of medicine being offered on a tray to a man sitting in bed, light streaming through a near-by window. I don’t know about you, but seeing and receiving beauty in the medicine I take has a very positive effect, not unlike the tulips and candle light gracing the table.
For me it’s a no-brainer. I can be treated tenderly and with respect, receiving ancient remedies from the hand of a gentle healer or stand in long pharmacy lines to receive prescriptions delivered in cheap plastic bottles with labels spit out by computers. The cost of drugs is ten times the amount and the possible side-effects even higher. “Here’s your medicine. Oh and by the way, this can make you sterile, drowsy, impotent or bald, cause a heart attack, or make the roof of your house collapse on your head. Have a nice day!”
If I get splattered on the highway by a passing truck and arrive unconscious, I’ll let the medical establishment sew me back together. Anything short of that, I vote for a competent healer, herbs from the arms of the earth, and beauty, always beauty, especially in illness.