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Katrina

Sleep problems becoming a pain in the neck

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Katrina    0

Maybe it’s the heat, the change of seasons, or the phase of the moon, but sleeping has been a real problem lately.

Having unsettled children bailing on their own beds, then tossing and turning throughout the night in our bed has turned into a real pain in the neck, literally.

Somehow my partner managed to wake up, after a particularly troublesome kids-in-the-bed night, with his head wedged between the bed and the bedside chest of drawers.

To say his neck was sore was putting it mildly — or at least the volume of his suffering indicated regular pain killers were not up to the task of relieving such an injury.

Prior to coming here, he would have headed straight to his local physiotherapist.

However, when in China….

So, with a note written by a colleague, on which she promised she wrote ”this man has a sore neck” in Chinese, he headed off to a Traditional Chinese Medicine hospital.

And now, he’s hooked.  The neck pain has totally abated after two follow-up visits — but I’m convinced he really kept returning more for the experience than the treatment.

On his first visit he says he was, rather fortunately, claimed by a nurse who asked him to pay 15 Yuan, and led him to the sore neck and back room.

It was a room in an old, high-ceilinged building about 8m wide x 20 m long, packed with eight treatment beds, four medicos (a guess as they were wearing white coats) 22 patients, two children and a microwave in the middle of the room that constantly binged, alerting nurses that their bowls of reheated noodles were ready.

Of the beds, the two in the back corner were equipped with some kind of stretching contraption and there sat a couple of grimacing Chinese people seemingly hog-tied and suffering in silence.

There didn’t appear to be a queue system in operation, so he followed the locals and, when the opportunity came, planted his backside on one of the numerous little stools around the room …. and waited.

It was like going to a barbecue without the beer, meat or fire.

Everyone was on for a chat, they walked around in their underpants in readiness for treatment (do not take this comment as necessarily indicative of every barbecue we throw) and there appeared to be equal parts of animated bitching and laughing (probably about my partner).

He took to describing the medicos as Elvis, the Gangster, the Scientist and the Kid.  Elvis is his guy. He is kind of smooth looking with perfect hair, a belly like a marshmallow and hands and forearms Superman would be proud of. In halting English he revealed to my partner that he works 15 hours a day, six days a week and he likes Australian cookies (we took the hint).

The Scientist is a woman in her mid 40s who always wears a long white coat, has her hair up in a clip and has black rimmed glasses. She always looks a bit crazed and flustered. The Kid is kind of smiley and jibbery.

But the Gangster is his favorite. He is craggy and weather-beaten and looks like one of those blokes who are a Mafia henchman, only he’s Chinese. His favorite massage trick is to get a sausage-like apparatus that looks akin to a door snake (perhaps known elsewhere as a draft excluder) and whack people with it. It’s all part of his treatment. The brave patients allow themselves a little squeal which elicits no sympathy whatsoever.

It must be hard work, all that rubbing and whacking, as the other day the Gangster stopped work, pulled out a smoke and fired it up – in the middle of the “surgery’’.   So there he was drawing heavily on his cigarette, sipping a cup of tea, blowing smoke around the room and giving someone a bit of a neck rub with one hand, all at the same time. My partner says he tried in vain to picture that going in an Australian physiotherapy room.

And then, with my partner still waiting his turn, an electrician got in on the action. After finding some dodgy wiring in a broken air conditioning unit, he wandered across the room and started talking to the multi-skilling Gangster. Of course the situation degenerated into a Chinese shout-fest.

The electrician was waving dirty wiring around with his filthy hands; the Gangster was firing back at a thousand miles and hour while never missing a beat on the person he was treating, who then bought into the argument herself. The electrician, duly rebuked on the finer points of electrical wiring by the masseuse and his patient, eventually wandered off back to his corner just missing stepping into the puddle of wee one of the children had left as a calling card in the middle of the floor.

Never start a nappy business here in China.

My partner finally got his turn with Elvis.  He reported that the TCM treatment was terrific and really made a difference.

He went back twice and, for possibly the first time ever in which he’s required a course of treatment, never missed an appointment.

I’m almost looking forward to getting a sore neck.

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