My wonderful, supportive husband is so excited for me to have this opportunity to see Chinese medicine practised in a Chinese setting. Not just for a week or two, but to be completely immersed in a hospital setting for a few months. I've known about this trip for the past three years since starting acupuncture studies, but now that it's finally time, I really should stop and ask myself, what exactly am I expecting from this whole China adventure?
I expect to learn how Chinese medicine works as primary medicine. In our teaching clinic in South Bank, more often than not we see chronic conditions like long-standing joint and back pains, auto-immune diseases, insomnia and depression - conditions that are not very well treated by Western medicine. Patients don't come to us in the first instance; they tend to come to Chinese medicine after they've tried everything else.
I expect to learn techniques that are not taught in the West, such as scalp acupuncture for stroke and other neurological conditions. Last year we had a short lecture on acupuncture for stroke rehabilitation, and it whet my appetite for more.
I hope, rather than expect, to see how acupuncture is integrated with cancer care as this is my personal area of interest.
But more than anything, I expect to meet people who couldn't come from a more different walk of life, but with whom I share a love of Chinese medicine and a passion for helping patients regain their health. All I have to do is revise and speak this very difficult tonal language that is Mandarin. It is not for the tone-deaf!