Monday, June 30, 2008

There is a Picture of Me in my Daughter's Bedroom

There is a picture of me in my daughter's bedroom.
On her night table, it would be the last thing she sees
Before turning off her light.

It is a photograph of me holding her in my arms.
In it, she is one year old and I am nearly twenty,
As she is now.
In the picture, I am holding her
As I am now.

Last night she swallowed a bottle of pills.

There is nothing unhealthy in my daughter's kitchen.
Processed foods and artificial colours would never
Find their way to her table.

She is a dancer for the ballet and vigilant with her body.
She regards it as sacred and believes
Others should as well.
She has done her best to keep everyone
Full of life.

Last night she swallowed a bottle of pills.

There are no prescription drugs in my daughter's medicine cabinet.
She questions doctors on the rare occasions
She feels the need to see one.

She must know why she needs the pills and what they will do.
She regards them as foreign substances
She should avoid
And would not take anything other than
An occasional aspirin.

Last night she swallowed a bottle of them.

I have a picture of me in my daughter's hospital room.
On my night table, it is the last thing I see
Before turning of my light.

It is a photograph of me holding her in my arms.
In it, she is twenty-one years old and I am nearly forty.
A nineteen year constant, growing wider, growing wider.
In the picture, I am holding her
As I am now.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Massage-esque, Non-acu-anything Table of Ultimate Promise

If you don’t feel well, if you need to get your blood flowing and muscles moving, take a walk. If you need medical care, if you THINK you need medical care, see an Oriental Medical Doctor, an Acupuncturist or Herbalist, see a massage therapist or even a good, decent MD, if you can find one who still remembers how to treat a patient and not a just a condition, but, for goodness sakes, see a real person who will put their hands on you, listen to you, look at you and actually take the time to see what is wrong, see you as an individual, treat you as an individual.

Don’t see a table.

I received a coupon as part of a drawing at a health fair. The prize I had won was a free month of massage, once a week, at a place which shall remain nameless here. I thought this strange because it was the same coupon/gift certificate I had seen lying in piles at a chiropractor’s office a week before. “Some prize,” I thought. Giving as a prize what one normally offers for free doesn’t exactly boost ones’ karmic brownie points.

Thinking I would give it a try anyway, I called to make an appointment. None needed? How many therapists do they have there that one doesn’t even need an appointment? Fine. It seemed strange but I thought I’d try it anyway. I jumped on my bike on a Saturday afternoon and headed into Melbourne.

A storefront in a plaza. Wide open view to the inside. People milling about. A row of six angled massage tables, or so they seemed, to the left side of the store. Each had a person on it, fully clothed, no draping, no therapist. At the front counter, a short line and, across from that, seating for six with four chairs filled.

I enter.

An old woman is at the counter asking about her next appointment. She will be seeing her MD between now and then about her diabetes.

She is told not to worry about it. The massage bed, yes, they called it a bed, will take care of it. The magic jade fingers will provide acupressure that will alleviate the diabetes.

The table provides, they say, the equivalent of moxa, acupressure, reflexology and massage as well as energy therapy. Further, I was told, using the Migun table means no need to exercise. as it will bring all the muscle movement and blood flow a body needs. Really?

A roller with, I am told, heated jade knobs, runs up and down the back shu points. Simply, up and down next to the spine. This is not acupressure. It is not acu-anything. It is not accurate in any way at all, as a matter of fact. And, of course, no diagnosis is done what-so-ever and certainly nothing that applies to any specific patient.

This, I think, standing there, is worse even than the Western medicine, one size fits all, treat the symptom not the person method. The most they do here is adjust the spacing of the knobs, those magic jade fingers, for the general size of the person.

She asks about her weight.

Don’t worry about that. Enough treatments and the weight will start to fall off.

I keep my mouth closed which is quite difficult for me even under the best of circumstances.

She hands them a check for six more sessions.

My turn at the counter. I hand them the certificate. It is unsigned. They don’t know where it came from, despite my giving them the location, time and circumstances, and don’t know how to assign the credit for the certificate. Somehow it becomes my problem and I must wait while they figure it out. I do wait a few moments and ask questions of the attendant left at the counter.

“Oh, it’s a wonderful massage.”

How do you all know what parts to massage or how much pressure to use?

“The table has variable pressure. We can turn it up or down.”

Just in general for all over or does the pressure vary by part?

“No, just in general. And it works on the back only. And the back of the legs and neck.”

What if I don’t fit on it, just in the right place. My legs tend to fall to the side.

“We can strap you in to keep your legs straight. That problem can be fixed with enough sessions.”

Since moxa is used for tonifying in a person who had a deficiency, what would you do if you had a patient who had excess?


I was told I could have my turn in about a half hour and I could have a seat and wait.

I opted for my bike.

A month later I was assisting at a table at a Palm Bay city health fair held at out local community center. We had a booth there and we were one spot away from the Migun table. Again, I am leaving out the name of the outfit that was purveying the massage-esq, non-acu-anything table of ultimate promise.

As our practice is concerned with Oriental Medicine, Acupucnture and Massage, the fella at the table felt sure we’d be interested in purchasing a Migun table in our office, for the benefit of our patients. I almost never try the cure of the month club’s newest entry. But, as this one was offered, it was ten feet away, and I wanted to sit down, I thought it a sterling opportunity to give it a whirl.

I laid down and it hurt. Hard, knobby, pokey.

“I’ll adjust it.”

Knobs turned and the magic jade fingers moved closer together toward the space between the outer and inner urinary bladder channel about four fingers away from each side of the spine.

He turned it on. Was it badly adjusted? He said no. It hurt. Magic jade fingers rolled up and down the back of my legs and backside. Just hitting the wrong places nearly every chance they got. My legs turned to the side and the fingers hit bone. A separate set of magic jade fingers rolled up and down my back. They hit my scapulae, against my skull. A timer was set for five minutes and I was set to endure it for a fair trial.

About three minutes in I gave it up. Yes, he agreed, it often hurt. The pain would go away with many treatments as my tissues softened. Softened? Pulverised? Ok. Would the magic jade fingers also learn where the correct anatomical points were and stop ‘massaging’ bone?

How about acupressure? Oh, he said, everyone gets the same points done. The same meridian (inner urinary bladder channel).


“That fixes all the problems.”

Since moxa is used for tonifying in a person who had a deficiency, what would you do if you had a patient who had excess?


I went back to my table.

Healing happens when a person, learned and skilled, finds the way you became ill and works to correct it. It is not done by a machine.

Sure, a machine may help. Electrosimulation is something we use with acupuncture. We might use a heatlamp. We find MRIs helpful from time to time. Precision lasers are amazing tools in the hands of one who is learned and skilled.

But don’t look to a table to heal you. Magic Jade fingers or not.