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Stories of Qi

We went to a hospital to see how some practitioners treat their patients in TCM outpatient clinic.With first doctor we saw many patients and he mainly used acupuncture to treat them. He was really fast and steady handed with the needles. I didn’t have any problems with the needles this time. This was interesting, but even more so was the next doctor. She had no patients at that time, so she started to tell us her own experiences and her point of view of stuff related to her profession.

She told us that some people can feel other persons Qi levels. Oh wait, I might need to tell you what Qi means. In TCM Qi is a kind of life energy that flows in every living thing. In humans it goes through meridians and if there is a problem in the flow of Qi we don’t feel that good. Acupoints are like gateways to regulate the flow of Qi and from them we can fix the problems of Qi flow. Of course there is more than this to Qi, but this is how I understand it. So back to the story..

Mainly these people are in professions where they help others, like doctors, nurses, massage therapists etc.Usually it is nessecary for these people to want to help others. If person has normal level of Qi there is no special feeling but if the Qi level is low then it feels like this person takes energy or Qi from persons close to them. If a persons Qi level is high then they give more energy to people around them too. I easily feel other peoples moods and I’m easily affected my them too. I have thought that I’m just really sensitive person, but according to this doctor it means that I can sense the Qi level of other. Cool..

The doctor also told us that sometimes there are ghosts or spirits around people or sometimes even inside some people. These spirits make the person they follow sick, but TCM doctor can release these spirits from the person. Sometimes this is simple and the spirits just leave but sometimes they attach to the doctor instead. Thats why people who are in a profession where they help other people, they need to practise Qi (like Tai Chi or Qigong) so that they can protect themselves from the spirits. If you are experienced in controlling your Qi, you can build shelter around you so that you are not so affected by forces from outside.

other students told me that here thay have a lot of news of doctors dying to the same disease they are treating. For them it means that the doctor has been affected by too many bad spirits of the same sort and so the doctor got the same problem and died. Like some heart surgeons die of an heart attack and so on. I also heard from other student that many people here believe in ghosts. I think that in Finland or in Europe not that many people believe in them. It is concidered a bit childish maybe.

It is facinating how different logic people have from each other. in the end I think words are just words and they are only a way to explain why things happen. To be different is not to be wrong nessecarily, not even if I don’t think the same way. And even if the story or the words are not “true” exactly the influence might be the same still. This is going to be so interesting.

First week of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Our firs week of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) consisted of some basic classes. Topics like Meridians, acupoints, basic principles of acupuncture, Yin&Yang and five elements and so on. First it was a bit difficult to get into the mindsetting of TCM because it is not only medical practice, but it is build on cultural beliefs and religius stuff. The ideological background is borrowed from Taoism so Yin and Yang and five elements come from there.

Yin and Yang are really complex concepts. For example Yin is body and Yang is spirit, but in the body there is also different parts that are Yin and Yang. For example lower body is Yin and upper body Yang, heart is Yin and bladder is Yang. I noticed that in TCM concepts are often more abstract and have many things they refer to than in western thinking. We have strict rules in our logic and our terms have usually simple meanings. You can find the difference even in the language. For us words usually have some quite restricted meanings but in chinese even other people who speak the same language don’t always get the meaning of other because words can be so complex.

Some difficulties also come from TCM being so old. For example heart meridian is not really what western people think of a heart but rather has the function of the brain (but again, you can’t think only about the organs because it leaves out too much) and spleen meridian has the function what we westerners think to be the function of pancreas. All in all, if you think too much inside of western box of thinking, you will certainly miss out most of the stuff that is in TCM.

The main purpose for TCM is to strive for balance. Sickness is imbalance in your body, in your meridians or organs, problems of the mind like being sad, depressed or angry are also imbalance and is is curable by balancing out your problem areas. This can be done many ways: with acupuncture, herbs, acupressure, massage, lifechanges, exercise and so on. TCM is really quite holistic system. It is actually more like lifestyle than just medical treatment.

My personal opinion on the first week is complex. Because I have different belief system than TCM it is difficult for me to understand all the connections. Still I feel that maybe I can get something valuable to my own practice if I understand even a little bit of the ideology behind TCM. I already know that there is some areas that can help me improve my work, like knowledge of acupoints and their function in relaxation and pain relief. All in all this is really interesting and I already feel that I understand thid culture a bit better than before.

Ears full of Mandarin

Today it begun! My first real clinical practice day! I can admit, I was a bit nervous. My boyfriend will probably roll his eyes for this, because he needed to call me from Japan in the middle of the night because I was panicing. Just a bit.. Well, lets be honest, I might not have slept all night. In other hand, I must have slept some, othervise it wouldn’t have been possible to wake up so many times. I didn’t feel like the sharpest tool in the box when I started my walk forward the hospital in the morning.

kyltti

Our hospital!

sairaala

And the actual hospital too! That is the white building in the center of the pic.

Luckily just few meters before hospital door I met my good friend David (one of those local students who was in Finland last fall). He showed me where to change my clothes and kept me company for some day. Then other of my saviours arrived! James is one of the research students and he was my life line today.

We went to meet the first one of my six clinical advisors or teachers as they seem to call them here. My first expression was a bit shocked since this guy didn’t greet me, didn’t talk to me and as far as I could tell he didn’t even look at me. Just told James to show me the places. I was a bit confused and a bit scared. Would it be like this all the time? I am a person too you know.. But after the first four hours my impression was totally flipped. My teacher seemed like a really serious guy, but near the end he was smiling more and more all the time. Even thought he spoke only in Mandarin and James worked as a translater he started to aske me questions and I even got to do something small in my first hours there. I was told that since they usually have not that busy hour just before lunch, I can just tell them what I want to learn and they will provide me with lesson. My teacher also told me that my posture tells him that I might have some hip problems (and I do, my legs are not even) and that he likes to combine chinese medicine to the western way. This is a gold mine I tell you!

My first four hours were at orthopedical practice. It was a big room, full of tables and busy with physical therapists. One therapist had couple of patients at the same time and they used a lot of modalities like electricity and ultrasound. There were tables for cervical and lumbar tractio machines where patients were just put to the machine and then the therapist went to treat other patients while machine did the tractio. There were one other intern and some second year students as well. It was really nice to talk with other students and think about some problems we were given. I liked the athmosphere because it felt like people were discussing about treatments rather than just given one right solution from the teacher. James also praised my skills all the time, so what there is not to like??

sairaalanikkuna

View from the hospital window.

Other four hours were at orthopedic bedside. I felt familiar since my first clinical practice was at same kind of department in Finland. It was nice to notice that I had really learned something from my first training period and I had some selfconfidence about the treatments. I liked Matti’s teacher (mine had a meeting and wasn’t there today). She was really good at explaning everything and she provided enought info beforehand about conditions we didn’t know before.

In bedside department we discovered some unique features. All the patients we saw today had either a familymember or other caretaker at their bedside to take care of them sonce nurses didn’t have time for all of the patients all the time. And those familymembers really seemed to almost live there too! Well ofcourse it is a bit different here since they have different customs of taking care of parents and family. But I liked the feeling about it. Finland could use something like that..  Therapist used a lot of time to educate those familymembers about their relatives condition since they were the ones that were going to take care of them. They seemed to take it really seriously too. Two of them were taking pictures with their phones when the terapist showed some exercise stuff or how to for example sit down with a full hip replacement.

nohevat

Nohevat.

What else.. All the info we saw about the patients were on paper. Thay had one file per a patient and everything was put there. I don’t even know if they have files on computer. We also had to use masks all the time when we were with patients. This was more strict at the bedside than at the other department. Before this day we were also told that we should put neat clothes on (some local students even wear suits to make a good expression when they visit hospital), have shoes that don’t show toes (no sandals!) and we were given a white jackets to wear. I feel like a doctor when I’m wearing those! Our days are 9 hours long because between our two 4 hour periods we have 1 hour lunch brake that is not included to the hour count. There is no other breaks than that. So 4 hours straight without a break is a rough work I tell you.

All in all, I’m really happy about my placement at the moment. I have no doubt that this will be challenging couple of months, but it will be worth it. Even though would be easier if I could speak chinese. Today only one of the patients spoke English with me..

First ending

This first two weeks has been amazing. We have had a lot of time to get used to the country and these habits here. This far we have only had some lessons at university and next Monday our actual clinical training begins. It is exciting and at the same time a bit sad. We have met many students here and some teachers as well and all of them have been really friendly and nice to us. It is sad to think that some of those I have met last time now. It makes me think about the time when I will leave here and see all of this last time. But maybe this is not a time for that!

In these two weeks I have learned some new skills! This week we tried pilates torture machine. It might have had another name too, but I don’t remember it at the moment. It was actually really interesting machine and I started to think how could I make on of those for myself. It is funny how much different exercise machines people have made and there is no end to it..

pilates

Using the torture machine.

pilates2

Actually this wasn’t that bad..

pilates3

It was even slightly fun!

We also tried some gyrokinesis. It seems quite okay. We only had one lesson so I cant say much about it, but it seemed interesting and worth trying some more. That also has some kind of a torture machine but we didn’t see that one. In addition to these we have dug into our brains trying to solve some case assignments and I already opened my Magee to check out couple of things. (Magee is a really heavy book about musculosceletal assessment.)

häkkyrä

One can measure muscle strenght with this “häkkyrä”. I forgot the name..

Our Chinese improves all the time. I get small learning experiences almost every day. I still have no idea what these people are talking about..

chinese

Trying to learn new words. This is difficult because locals know their marks better and writing something we will understand takes some time usually.

I have also learned that I get really tired if I try to go out every day and do something awsome. But I get really bored if I just sit in front of my computer. Maybe I need to learn to do something a bit less awesome but still active. I guess I will be in best shape of my life when I leave here. I have decided that in the end of the exchange period I will run these stairs up. 😀 I have improved really well these two weeks I have stamped those stairs. Every. Day.

portaat2

Small portion of my everyday stairs. Okay, maybe half of them if I go up only once.

Adventurer! ..to be?

As I have told you earlier, I’m a boring person who likes to follow rules and routines. I have noticed that I feel a bit uncomfortable here when I can’t read all the signs, so I can’t know if there is something I’m not supposed to do. In Finland I usually read most of the signs and I’m well aware what is expected behaviour. If I’m not, I might not even attend an event. I like to watch and learn before trying things myself. I want to know I’m doing things right before I do them.

I kind of thought that by coming here, I would become an adventurer. Just by changing the environment I could change myself. Weeeelll.. Not quite. I just noticed yesterday that me and my classmate are completely different with this. He is asking everything when I’m just trying to figure out myself just by looking. He is going to shops that clearly don’t operate in english and just trying to comminucate in some language when I’m just avoiding places where I think people don’t speak english. Soon, he might even know more chinese than me because he is always asking how can you say this and that while I just observe. Noticing this difference was a bit of shock to me, because I was thinking myself as a curious and outgoing person and I noticed that I’m still more of an observer than a doer.

paitateksti

I even bought a shirt to remind me not to make all these excuses and just do things.

It took me a while to accept the situation and to decide that it is okay to be like this. At first I thought that I can’t be adventurer if I’m like this, but later I just decided to change the concept of adventurer in my head. Because I’m different from what I hoped to be doesn’t mean it is wrong. I can also change the way I act when I pay attention to it and try to not to be so overly cautious about everything.

Comparisons

Now I don’t have (almost!) anything else to do than post to my blog..

You know that we make up things about what our country looks like if you just draw the lines. Like Italy is a boot. In Finland we like to think that our country looks like a woman. It is called the Maid of Finland. While I was reading about Taiwan I found out that they also have something like this. The island of Taiwan looks a bit like a sweet potato so some of them call themselves the Children of Sweet Potato. I think it is quite abdorable.

Taiwan is not the only name thay have, they are also called The Republic of China. To be clear, the other China is called People’s republic of China. But since this is quite confusing, I just continue to use Taiwan and China.

In Taiwan there is population of 23,373,517 people. That is A LOT of people. In Finland we have only 5,454,444. (Numbers are according to Wikipedia). In Taipei alone there is 2.619 million people. Almost half of all the Finnish would fit in there. To be exact, I live in Jyväskylä and there is 130,816 people here. In Helsinki which is the biggest city in Finland there is 614,074 people. Now I can tell you a secret. I really don’t like big crowds..

Official language in Taiwan is Chinese (mandarin) and in Finland we have Finnish and Swedish. Religions in Taiwan are diverse but about 70 % are either buddhist or taoist. In Finland we have mainly Lutherianism and Eastern orthodoxy and if you compare, there is only 3,9% christianity in Taiwan. This means they have tempels and we have churches. Some similarities are found too! There is freedom of religion in both countries.