I live in Boudha just 5 minutes away from the stupa. When walking to the Stupa of Boudhananth one can smell many sweet incense burning, fragrant flowers, urine, decaying flesh and rotting food all in one breath. There are many spiritual people, wealthy and poor, who visit the stupa daily to deepen their understanding of themselves and their religion. On the path there are people begging for money, including people deformed from leprosy, mothers asking for milk for their babies, children who tap you on the back and hold out their hand while they follow you on your errands and stray dogs begging for food.
The spectrum of disease in the clinic also has a wide range. There are people who simply come for elbow pain and headaches, then others who are crippled from accidents, abuse or stroke. Most people here do not come to acupuncture for internal medicine. This is just as well as our pharmacy is somewhat limited and invites creativity. For my patient with staph, the best that I could offer was Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin granules with Zhi Zi and San Huang San for his swollen ankle.
I brought a couple bottles of Zheng Gu Shui, White Flower Oil, and Po Sum On. In three days I have had the opportunity to use all of them. There is also a great opportunity for different acupuncture techniques here. Thanks to starting my trip with GAHP, all of my needling is free hand, including scalp, butt and ear needles. Last week I mostly used channel theory, but for the stroke and the paralysis patient, I used scalp acupuncture, for severe pain I used auricular, and for one sensitive patient I used Japanese techniques. SIOM was not always an easy experience, but I feel like it gave me many tools to begin my practice.
Living in the clinic is also a unique experience. I live here with three other volunteers who all come from France. We spend about 60% of our time together, more now that I am locked out of my room and sleeping in the boys ‘dorm’. My room is just above my friend Sudan’s room. He is 5 years old and lives in the hospice so that the nurses can take care of him while he undergoes chemo to treat his cancer. He is my pal. The day that I returned from the mountains, he followed me everywhere, helped me to carry my bags, showed me around the clinic and introduced me to the residence here. He does not speak English and I do not speak Nepali, but we get by just fine.
Despite his illness, he has more energy than any little kid I have ever met. He has his hands in everything and can travel from one side of the clinic to the other in a fraction of the time as the rest of us. The nights that he screams from the pain are difficult. Not because it is inconvenient but because it is hard to be so helpless in terms of relieving his suffering.
Living here is not always easy but, thus far, it is an enlightening experience.