If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you might remember one dated December 11, 2019, when a car came up the driveway and a young boy got out and asked me to help his father who was suffering a great deal of pain and needed help to get out of the car and into the house. It turned out that he was Eduardo, one of a team of wonderful men who had reroofed our house about three years earlier. 

Just this morning, four years after that visit, his car arrived again, and this time three people emerged: Eduardo, his sister, and her husband. I was grateful that the visit was well timed as we were having friends over for morning tea within an hour or so. This time, instead of a bag of oranges, Eduardo was carrying a most glorious orchid with two large fronds each heavy with gorgeous purple blooms. Old school.  

I took pulses, then opened a translation app on my phone and started typing to explain the findings. Tightness in the very superficial portion of the pulses were the feature. Eduardo accepted my invitation to learn how the muscular tension is felt in the pulses and was so delighted that he could feel what I’d described. Then to the table, where, of course, he intensely disliked the required sinew treatment. Although I offered to stop several times, he insisted we follow through. Just like last time, the paravertebral muscles—having become raised rails of debilitating pain—gave way, softening with every step of the treatment. He lowered himself from the table and smiled. Relief. 

Then to his brother-in-law, who told me he had similar pain. But no! Not the same at all. He had no sinew pulses. Rather, his liver pulse was empty; when pressed, a certain slight tightness at the sides gave way to a bottomless vacuity. He answered yes to every question: did he go to bed very late, was he drinking coffee, eating sugar, etc. His addiction to sugar had stagnated and depleted his blood volume so deeply that there was vacuity and wind in the form of numbness and pain all the way down the leg through the gallbladder channel. He was quite puzzled that I wanted to treat him face up, so I explained that to increase blood volume and circulation, the treatment needed to be that way. Coming off the table, he felt much better, but was not entirely free of pain and numbness. For that he would have to adopt a wet diet. Fortunately, in his culture, soups and stews are a feature. His wife indicated she would love to cook more in that traditional way, like her mother and grandmother. 

Never having seen acupuncture before, she came closer to the table to watch the treatment, with rapt attention. Then she asked where she could buy needles so that she herself could treat her husband and provide the same relief. There was such profound and immediate faith in these methods. They seemed so natural and simple that she was sure she could master it.  We agreed to start with cooking, and to come back if needed.  

Often, a return to traditional ways is not just comforting, it’s necessary. And beautiful. Just as necessary and beautiful as the return of the tradition of dropping in on a village doctor.

Ann Cecil-Sterman, 

January 21, 2024

Litchfield hills, CT

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