When I was young, I knew that I wanted to write. I also knew that I wanted to practice medicine.
I started writing short stories in second grade and haven’t stopped – but when it came to the ‘practice medicine’ part of my dreams – things weren’t working out that great. My first experiences with allopathic medicine included exam rooms that smelled like rubbing alcohol, big azz needles from hell, gag-inducing tongue depressors, exam table paper that stuck to the back of my legs, and a few doctors who touched me as if I had a PERDUE sticker on my forehead. To add to my disillusionment was a surgery I had when I was 9. I had to get a growth removed from my tongue; the doctors told my mom that it was pretty much a “taste bud gone wild,” which my mom attributed to the fact that I talked a lot. The only redeeming thing about the experience was the drug-induced loopiness, the wheelchair ride into the waiting room, and the ‘recovery’ days that followed, which included a popsicle-heavy diet and hours of The World of David the Gnome on Nickelodeon. David the Gnome was the best! A forest gnome and resident doctor of the forest, he went on amazing, world-bettering adventures via animal-taxi, and used acupuncture, hypnosis, and all kinds of other healing arts to treat his patients (who were mostly animals and other gnomes). David was my first real mentor in the field of medicine, but he was 6 inches tall, rode a fox around the forest, and was decidedly a cartoon.
At some point, I stopped telling people that I wanted to be a doctor when they asked me what I’d like to be when I was allgrownup. If I said “doctor” I knew what kind of picture would pop up in their head, and it wasn’t the kind of doctor I wanted to be. I longed to say “I”m going to recreate the genius of David the Gnome and heal my people!” but instead I’d shrug my shoulders and remind them that I was only 9, which is too young to be making such big decisions. Then I’d ask them for a snack.
When I got a little older, I decided to drop the childish, sentimental goal of practicing the art of healing and plunge head first into the world of finance.
Actually… it all worked out great. I discovered Traditional Chinese Medicine when I was 20 and I’ve been practicing gnome-medicine since!
Here’s the story. When I was 20, I’d started seeing an acupuncturist for chronic fatigue syndrome, a health issue that feels exactly like it sounds – exhaustion that loiters. I’d seen a ton of doctors over a 12 month period with no results. I even had one especially PERDUE-like experience that made me swear off doctors forever. Then my mom convinced me to see an acupuncturist, whom I saw once a week for a month; by the end of the month I had the energy to return to the gym, go for walks, hang out with friends. My brain stopped feeling like a mashed potato. Best of all, the soggy miasm that had descended upon my life seemed to lift with each session until it was totally gone.
I honestly couldn’t believe how effective this quack medicine had been for me! My desire to learn more about Traditional Chinese Medicine increased to a level I’d comfortably call ‘voracious’, and within a couple of weeks of reading some GREAT books, I learned that TCM was pretty much a blend of the three things I loved most – medicine, art, and science!
And just like that my vocation and profession embraced and made love in public, shameless, while David the Gnome watched and smiled with approval.
Okay, perhaps that isn’t the best metaphor, Prude, but it’s hard to express how great it was to realize that what I had wished for as a kid (and as a teen, and as a young adult) actually existed in real life as a modality of healing that I could study for four years at a graduate level! Sans gnomes. Though… we are never really sans gnomes. Face it.
Check out my post on Books About Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine That Won’t Put You To Sleep