Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ni Hao, Yin-Yang, & Tape Offs

We just finished our second breakfast here at Pu Yuan Inn. This morning was not quite as impressive as yesterdays breakfast of carbs and sugar so my roommate and I returned to our room to snack on some Wheat Thins and chocolate wafers and to catch up on our journaling before class. 
Let me back track to yesterday morning...we woke up to the most amazing breakfast in the world, a menagerie of carbohydrates, filled with sweets, and delicious Mr.Coffee straight from the can. After breakfast we headed to main campus for our first class presented by Dr. Ke-Hong Li entitled "Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)." He spoke a good amount of English, however, it was pretty difficult for him to convey to us theories and mindsets that were complete foreign to us in a language fairly foreign to him. However, we had a translator for when things got really muddy for us so that made it somewhat easier to follow. The first half of the lecture covered the basic theory of yin-yang. This is one of the most basic elements of Chinese medicines dealing with the balance that must be maintained within the body. The yin is the "static" of the body whereas the yang is the "dynamic" (movement) of the body. Yin is the moon and yang is the sun. Yin refers to the lower body, chest & abdomen, interior, and "solid" organs: heart, liver, spleen, lung, & kidneys. Yang refers to the upper body, shoulders & back, exterior, bowels, and "hollow" organs: small intestine, gallbladder, stomach, large intestine, & bladder. In anatomical position, yang is the lateral (sun facing) side of your body while yin is the more medial side (where the sun normally does not hit) of your body. 
Chinese medicine depends more on listening and interpreting (qualitative) rather than technological readings and scientific basis (quantitative). Doctors are about to understand individual illnesses, complaints, or diseases according to a format very much like our own. First they observe the individual paying close attention to the color of their face and tongue, secondly they listen to the tonality & flow of the voice, the third step is the actual history taking process, and the fourth is palpation of the pulses. 
Pulse taking is probably the most intriguing part of the yin-yang theory to me. Dr. Ke-Hong Li explained that simply by palpating a woman's pulse the doctors can tell that they are pregnant! There are grids for both the left and right hand pulses that can determine where exactly the imbalance in the yin and yang is occuring. Whether it be an internal (heart, liver, lung, stomach, kidney) issue or upper, middle, or lower extremity injury. Often athletes are only able to perceive that they have pain but cannot tell you how or where specifically it hurts; listening to the pulses can often help the doctor to pinpoint the actual specific site of the injury. There are two different approaches that are typically taken: either treatment of the specific area (injury site) or treatment of the flow of energy through the area. The "big picture" understanding I took from the yin-yang balance is that; even though an injury might express as a yang type situation (might appear to be one thing) the palpation and observation of the entire body's operation might express that the total body expresses a yin imbalance. Basically, it is important to observe the entire body's operations (distinguishing abnormal from norms) rather than focusing only on the apparent injury/illness of the individual. These teachings are very similar to mindsets both Dave and Paul have tried to instill in us at home; for example although a runner might be experiencing pain on the lateral side of the knee that does not mean we look only at knee mechanisms. Lateral pain could be indicative of a a tight IT band or even abnormal pelvic tilts. All of this to say, it was a very thought provoking session. 
We also discussed the different meridians of the body and learned several points that can be used both in acupressure and acupuncture to either release or gather the chi (relieve pain, reduce spasm, etc.) 
So then after our three hour class we went to the cafeteria for another V.I.P meal. They feed us SO MUCH it's crazy!! I promise you they filled our lazy susan's at least three times with every sort of Chinese food you could ever hope for and more! There was sweet and sour chicken (the REAL thing!!), shrimp and vegetable puree, and even squid!!! The squid was super chewy but actually pretty tasty. We were supposed to make lettuce wraps with all the choices but most of us just tried a bunch of different things and filled ourselves to the brim with food. They are NEVER satisfied with how much we eat, we never eat enough for them even though we all eat 2 or 3 plate fulls! They are so incredibly hospitable and eager to talk, help, and accommodate us in any and every way possible! After our feast we returned to the classroom to learn about the history of Athletic Training in Taiwan as well as the basics of their Training Room so that we wouldn't be completely clueless when we had to go their for clinicals, especially since all of their machines are in Chinese!!
Mext we got an official tour of the training room and then about 30 minutes to play around with all the machines. The best of the machines was their interferential current. It's this HUGE contraption with 40+ buttons that lights up and sings you a song whenever you turn it on. Rather than the boring beeps we have in America, every command it is given is returned with a song or a ringtone. However, the best part of the entire machine is the massive sponge-filled suction cups they use for electrical probes rather than the sticky pads I'm used to. They suck so hard on your skin when you take them off your skin has a nice purple/red hue to it.
After we finished with out play time the directors announced we would have a TAPE OFF against our respective buddies. My Taiwanese buddy, LB and I (LB & LD :)) had to tape for a wrist hyperextension injury. Technically, I've never really learned this taping technique but I figured it wasn't TOO different from elbow hyperextension so I went with that. I guess it must've worked because we both go an 8/10 from the judges!! 
The taping challenge ended with the two Mikes facing off blind folded taping ankles. The Mike of Taiwan won by a landslide and not to mention his BLINDFOLDED was much more beautiful than mine ever is with my eyes open. 
We went to a little hole in the wall Mongolian Bar BQ restaurant that night which was a lot of fun and a LOT of food!!!!!!! (Pictures later I promise) After dinner we walked over to the temple located right in the middle of the city and watched a sermon being preached. From what I could gather people just walk in and out as they please, leaving "food offerings" on these long picnic tables and lighting incense to wave about and pray at respective alters with. It was unlike anything I'd seen before and something you definitely don't find that ornate in the middle of a modernized city. Oh Taiwan. ANd that was only the full day two. 

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