Guest Post


Please enjoy this post by Sayan.

Not Exactly A Tourist: More Organic Than That, You Die

Sunday, April 18, 2010

More Organic Than That, You Die

It was hard to believe but Sami, my youngest colleague, died of cancer at age 34. Sami was so full of life, always smiling and helpful. All it took were seven weeks and he was gone forever. This unexpected loss was a harsh wake up call. It changed me from being a carefree person to a health-conscious one. I adopted a strict lifestyle, ate only organic food and exercised regularly.

Few months after this radical change, I woke up one day with pain in my left leg. A day passed and it was still there. The following morning I woke up early and went jogging. I was hoping to overcome it with vigorous exercise but the pain was more tenacious than I had thought. It kept moving towards my foot, the lower it went, the worse it was. I could neither walk nor sit or stand without feeling an excruciating pain. I bed, I had to use three pillows to find the least painful position and get some sleep. Much to my fear, I had sciatica.

I heard about this ailment long ago and the pain associated with it sounded exaggerated to me. Unfortunately it wasn’t. I started to worry that I might have a slipped disc, a common cause of the ailment. This unexpected sickness shook me to the core. People heard about my problem. Some exchanged funny comments about my healthy lifestyle that brought nothing but deprivation and a nasty ailment at the end. I couldn’t blame them, my story was indeed tragicomic.

I dislike going to doctors. I thought that with the combination of healthy food, visualization exercises and acupressure, nature would take care of itself without any problem. I was wrong. I then tried stretching and massage with hot balms but the pain was getting worse by the day. Finally, I resorted to using painkillers.

The random combination of different things offered me some relief, but the pain was on the prowl. To my surprise, I discovered that very strong coffee was more effective than the hot creams or the painkillers I had been taking. It reduced the pain a little and its effect was immediate. I switched to coffee instead of everything else without the faintest idea of how long this regimen would last. The pain would come back in full force around one o’clock in the morning. Drinking a mug of very strong coffee at such an ungodly hour left me awake till the morning. Trapped, I decided to see a doctor.

Disheveled, the eyes tired from lack of sleep, I went to a Chinese clinic. As I entered the main corridor, I saw a blood-spattered man, lying almost naked and screaming from pain. I went and sat down somewhere else just to find myself facing a wall that displayed pictures of road accident victims. I was about to leave the place and head for a Western clinic after all, when a smiling Khmer nurse came and took me to the doctor. Being able to keep a smile in that environment was quite a feat.

The doctor’s office had no waiting room. It looked more like the store of a herbalist than anything else. No impressive credentials, no medical posters hanging down the wall. There was a tiny desk surrounded by large wooden shelves with a vast array of medicinal products. One looked exactly like a big chunk of tar or may be it was. The doctor had tied some rusty nails together and used them as weights for his antiquated hand-held scales. The curtains had not been cleaned for years. The ashtray was full of cigarette butts of the cheapest brand. The place needed some serious dusting.

The doctor finally came in and excused himself for being late. He said, in broken English, that he had been taking care of the screaming patient. An altercation had happened between two cab drivers and one of them had shot the other straight away. I felt goose bumps hearing this as I was used to honk at the reckless drivers.

I recalled Erma Bombeck’s pun, warning people against doctors whose indoor plants have died. What would she have said about this one? Although I was shocked by what I found, I began to feel rather pleased to be there something that never happened to me before in a doctor’s office. He lit up a cigarette without filter and started smoking it with gusto. Why fret about death when one deals with it every day? After a basic check-up, the doctor gave me a prescription and sent me home.

At four O’clock in the afternoon, a delivery boy brought me a warm brew prepared by the physician. It smelled bad and tasted horrible. It had a muddy color that reminded me of the Yangtze River during the monsoon season. Mysterious bits and pieces floated at the bottom. I didn’t want to know what it was. I closed my eyes and drank it in one go. It went down like a fireball. Within minutes of drinking the brew, my leg started to feel better. I laid down in my bed and had a good sleep. That was a miracle.

Every afternoon the delivery boy came with the warm brew. By the fourth day I was able to walk around the house and breathe some fresh air. As I continued drinking the potion the pain gradually decreased. Now I could move, sit and sleep without feeling the sharp pain. It was a great relief. Within few more days the sciatica was completely gone. The brew from hell was heavenly. It worked on my entire system not just on my leg. It made me feel better. Even the white part of my eyeballs looked clean and healthy.

Encouraged by the experience, I returned to the same doctor for another ailment. He was pleased that his brew had worked well but he was not surprised. He told me that traditional Chinese medicine had developed a standard treatment for sciatica about two thousand years ago. It seems unbelievable but it is true. Out of curiosity, I asked the doctor about the ingredients he used in the medicinal portion. He pointed at one of the glass bottles on the shelf. I looked at it and noticed some black roots inside. It was not clear what kind of plant it was. I put on my reading glasses, took the bottle near the window and looked at it closely. It was full of black scorpion tails, stings included. I felt nauseous. “Vely good, vely s’pensive”, commented the doctor behind me as to reduce the shock. My mind went blank. I did not know what to say. I just remembered that, after filtering the brew one time, I had found several stings. I wasn’t shocked at that time because I had thought that these were thorns of roses, berries or some other bushy plants. The idea that they were scorpion stings did not even cross my mind. Scorpion Tail Tea is not something one can imagine.

How much poison had I drunk so far? It was too late to panic. “Is THIS what I have been drinking all the while?” I asked the doctor in utter disbelief. “Not just that, but this one too,” he said. He then opened a box and showed me a six-inch long centipede. It looked disgusting, I started to feel queasy. “Vely good, vely s’pensive,” he said again. He then added gravely, “If medicine not O.K, me give you next time this,” and he took out an adult cobra.

More organic than that, you die.

Posted by Sayan at 12:44 PM

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One thought on “Guest Post

  1. I was so enthralled with this article – thank you! I felt as though I was in the Chinese clinic for the last five minutes. Interestingly enough, though, I thought that the “medicine” was going to be a Kombucha – so as I was reading and found out that this “vely good, vely s’pensive” medicine was what it ended up being, I burst out laughing! Oh, the adventures that must have been! Yuck! 🙂

    Like

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