Author’s Note: the following came about due to first hand experience with the subject matter, which I discuss below the links. This discussion will be somewhat Kunderian, i.e. giving up a small portion of my privacy of my own free will. Feel free to skip it if you don’t want to know me any better.
To some it’s a number,
The rate at which atrial and ventricle chambers
Contract and expand,
Supplying oxygen to feet and hands.
To others, it’s that but more:
They want to know systolic
They are interested in diastolic;
These three form the western core.
The western core
Is but a faint shadow,
A distant memory
Of Oriental grandeur:
Nearly thirty modes,
Taken at several nodes;
The modes must be learned
Before experience is earned.
Using three fingers,
At the nodes they linger,
Evaluating Qi until the practitioner
Is satisfied with his role as diagnosor.
Some modes can indicate the reaper nears,
Others can indicate fear,
Fear of things outside one’s control:
Anxiety is the name usual.
And some indicate good health,
That the patient is generally well.
If you doubt my tale,
I don’t mind if you quail.
©2015 H.K. Longmore
- The Significance of Traditional Pulse Diagnosis in the Modern Practice of Chinese Medicine
- The 29 Pulses in Chinese Medicine Pulse Diagnosis
My experience with Chinese medicine
I went to a Chinese doctor that is also an MD, to get some treatment for bronchitis (or rather, to prevent a cold from becoming bronchitis, which is what has happened far too often over the past six or seven years). The treatment worked: my cold that was starting to become bronchitis went away; the beginnings of bronchitis subsided. Almost a year and a quarter later, I went to him for something that had been bothering me for a long time, but I just figured, “It’s a single symptom, there’s nothing wrong with me otherwise, I’ll just deal with it; Western medicine won’t have anything for me, and they’ll want to run a bunch of expensive tests, with the best result being that they give me some drugs to manage the symptom, not treat the problem.” I finally decided to see what Chinese medicine could do for me.
I told him of my condition (excessive phlegm in the morning, and sometimes during the day—ew, gross! I know, right?); ultimately he gave me some herbs to treat it, and I started doing acupuncture as well. After I told him of my condition he took my pulse, once on the left wrist, once on the right, basically following what I described above. He said, “I detect a phlegm pulse, but also a slight depression.” (On my next visit, he added some other conditions that I had not told him of, that were a result of auto accidents.)
“A slight depression!? How could he tell that from my pulse?” I asked myself. It was at that moment that I realized he was right: I had been in denial about it, but I’d been dealing with a mild depression since the end of January / early February 2014. It was brought on by something that went drastically differently than I had expected, and some of the aftermath of that event. Many times when I did things that I hoped would put an end to the depression (though I wasn’t calling it that then), things still went differently than I expected, and ofttimes just brought me further down (sometimes because I’m just too sensitive, which is why I usually build a wall around my heart and don’t let people in). But now I realized why most days since then I give a sigh before entering my workplace; why I sigh every time I leave the building. These are just outward expressions of my depression. So, there, I said it. I’m mildly depressed, and I have been for a while. I had a nice reprieve on a couple of vacations, and there have been days when I have thought things were looking up, and days that most definitely were looking up; nevertheless, it’s still there. But, “I have my books, and my poetry to protect me,” and I treat with exercise, with drumming, with playing other musical instruments, learning new ones, and with listening to music. Would that I could reverse what brought the depression on, but that is outside of my control. Thus I’ve also been feeling anxiety related to all of this, which the good doctor also detected in my pulse on my second recent visit.
Okay, that’s enough voluntarily giving up my privacy for one night. I’m going to go back into my “fortress deep and mighty” now, tell myself I am a rock and an island, despite the fact that “a rock feels no pain; and an island never cries,” and I’ve felt enough pain, and shed enough tears over the past while that I know it’s not really true. Yep. I’m going to go lie to myself. And maybe shed a tear or two.