Massage as medicine

Panda does not want any of it.

I went to see my neighborhood Chinese medicine doctor the other day after a bad run-in with some cockles (little bivalves that are currently very hard to come by in Singapore).

The doctor asked me a lot of questions, looked carefully at my tongue and eyes, held my wrist between his thumb and forefinger for a few minutes, and noted the yellow-green pallor of my skin. Diagnosis: I am not getting enough rest (true), under a lot of stress (sure), and my liver and lungs (and everything connected to them in the Chinese medicine sense) haven’t had a chance to recover from the food poisoning because of all of the above plus the Cipro I tried initially. He prescribed bed before 11pm (livers apparently rest best between 11pm and 2am) and four herbal medicines in pill and potion form.

He gave my prescription to an elderly lady in a lab coat at the front of the clinic, and I watched as she pulled various roots and seeds from the tiny drawers lining the walls, ground them into powder, and threw them into a little terracotta pot to boil. While I was waiting for my concoction to brew, I wandered around the rest of the clinic and found myself suddenly in a room full of silent babies. They were getting massages.

Some sat upright and others lay on their backs, but one lay on his side like a tiny dictator–hand extended out for servicing by his attendant. The nurse masseuses carefully kneaded their backs, scratched their heads, and rubbed tiny circles into their palms. The babies drooled (more than usual) in ecstasy.

Baby massage seems awfully decadent, but I can say, four days of bitter herbal brew and my tummy is feeling much better.


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