Who will not look at other avenues for cure?
We did. And he came heavily recommended. One touch at the pulse, one look at the throat and the extended tongue, and he will know what is wrong with you. At least that was what we were told.
He was Dr. Tan Ci Shou and he practiced traditional Chinese medicine. A healer (there are many accounts from friends and strangers that make him sound larger than life).
I have no knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine. Or what I think I know, I learned from some Chinese movie (or is it from a Korean tele-series?) and novels (Amy Tan?). But it is fascinating and enchanting and carries more charm than the synthetic (non-natural and expensive) medicine of the west.
And okay, we were something short of desperate – as the pronouncement from our three doctors did not sound very promising.
So one Sunday afternoon, we meandered along the streets of Binondo to Fu Yong Mansion, Ongpin corner Teodora Alonso Street. It was there that we found him, at a nondescript, decaying building, two fu dogs guarding the entrance. We were excited to meet our alternative (also scared).
He was wearing white and sat at the corner of a box-shaped room, flanked by a female assistant and 5 other people. We sat and waited for our turn (hand on the camera – I originally wanted to document the experience but did not because I got shy). I imagined how this office must look like on a regular day (not on a Sunday at 4pm), when a line would snake out from the room, down the stairs and onto the hot, busy street, everyone sharing their stories (or not), while waiting for their 5 minutes with Dr. Tan.
Because really, that is all it takes.
The conversation (which was in Chinese) roused me from my reverie. Hubby, who understood a smattering of Cantonese explained to me that they – Dr. Tan and his current patient – were talking in Fookien (which he does not understand). We shared a laugh (we were both nervous and could see it in each other’s eyes). The doctor dismissed the patient in front of him and barked at hubby to come near. Hand to pulse, eyes to tongue and throat, the doctor said, “Mahina puso” (weak heart).
Amazing. But then we already kind of knew that.
He then asked “Tableta o laga?” (tablet or tea?). Since we had a little introduction to Dr. Tan and his ways and knew that tea is abominable (awful, gross) but more potent, hubby answered “Tea…?” Dr. Tan then proceeded to write some Chinese characters on white paper, gave us a calling card for a Chinese Drug Store where we can get the “medicine”, gave us a list of what hubby is not supposed to eat or do and barked for his fee (400 pesos or less than $10).
Dazed, we went out of the room. The paper in our hands said: For Clients with Heart Problems. Abstain from: oily and greasy foods (all types of animal fat), ice and cold foods, carbonated drinks, liquor, cigarettes, coffee, eggs, strenuous exercises. Please keep warm and be very careful of catching colds. Mild exercises such as leisurely walking is advisable. Clients with heart problems caused by goiter/thyroid (hubby does not have this) should avoid cabbage, radish, eggplant and carrots for life.
We walked out to the sun and walked straight to Hogwarts, er, the Ching Tay Chinese Drug Store, which was around the bend. We found herbs, dried and hung, claws attached to appendages, things (plant or animal?) which looked and smelled like dung – all fascinating and powdered and smashed and grated and weighed by 5 busy women.
We went back 2 more times to Dr. Tan and would have continued but we got the ultimatum and had to do the pacemaker implantation emergency surgery.
Yes, hubby is now okay, breathes better but his doctors made it clear that the pacemaker will not totally heal hubby’s heart.
So Dr. Tan will get a visit from us soon. We are not sure how effective he is, but he is okayed by hubby’s doctors (the “West”) who see no harm in us trying traditional Chinese medicine.
Hopefully, hopefully, the East will work its magic.