Thursday- July 8th, 2010
Today, my placement was at the bone setter. I was really looking forward to this experience after going there two weeks ago. I will never forget what I saw that time- some of the most unsanitary conditions I have ever seen. But today, was somewhat different. We arrived there around 8:30 AM and met with Michael- the bone setter and also owner of the clinic. Two weeks ago I just went with Megan, but since there were two new girls with us, he talked with us for about an hour and a half. His discussions were similar to what we experienced when we first came, but he went into further detail on how he combines his three specialties: bone setting, acupuncture, and herbal medicine. He uses all three of his specialties to treat each patient. I won't get into too much detail because I wrote about this two weeks ago in my journal, but there were some new things he discussed today.
First, he discussed with us the process of how his patients come to him and also how he gets paid. First, patients usually go to the hospital and depending on the condition, they get referred to a herbal center such as Michaels. However, most of the time, these patients cannot afford to go to the hospital, so they go straight to the herbal clinics since they are much cheaper. Michael said that he does not do this to make money- he makes just about enough for supporting his family, but he does not make much profit from his services. He said that he charges a small fee to his patients- usually 20 cents for any treatment. I asked Michael what happens if someone cannot afford to pay. Michael replied "I treat them anyways." He stressed the fact that money is not important to him- he does this because he enjoys it and was passed down from his father and grandfather. He only charges a small fee to offset the costs of needles, bandages, etc. This was very interesting to hear from him, because he is such a sincere person and wants to help people, yet he does not make much money at all. He said that someday the government will help herbal clinics, so he is waiting for that day to come.
Next, he was explained acupuncture again. This did not really interest me too much, but it is something to think about for alternative medicine. He said that he has been doing a lot of research lately with skull acupuncture and how there are different regions on the skull to help with pain in several body regions and organs.
After listening to an interesting lecture for quite a while, he finally started to do bone setting. But first, he said he had to take a shower. We waited about 20 minutes and he was finally ready to do some bone setting. It was pretty amusing to hear him say he is going to take a shower, while his patients have been waiting for him for hours already. When we first got to the clinic, I recognized quite a few patients from 2 weeks ago. Almost every patient that I saw 2 weeks ago was here again today. I asked Michael how often they come, and he said that depending on the severity of their condition, they come once a week. He also said that some patients actually stay at his clinic because they cannot walk anywhere. I was able to see the room where patients can stay- basically sheets on the floor and a toilet in the corner, and he said that they are responsible for feeding themselves, going to the bathroom, and everything else. He just provides somewhere for them to stay to recover.
Anyways, the first patient was an older man that was suffering from epilepsy. Michael started to make some sort of herbal liquid. He took three different leaves and used some tree bark, got them wet with a bit of gin, and squeezed them to make some sort of medicine. He asked the patient to lie down, and Michael poured about one tablespoon of the liquid into each nostril. I can only imagine how that must of felt- he looked like he did not enjoy it, I didn't blame him.
We then went into the alleyway where he does bone setting. It was already about 11:00 AM at this time, and we only had one hour left until we were to leave to go back for lunch. I clearly remembered his first patient from two weeks ago- he had a fractured tibia which protruded through the skin. Two weeks later, it seemed to be healing. Michael took off his bandages and wooden cast and had him try to walk with a chair for support. Surprisingly, he was able to very well. He was actually one of the patients that have been staying at the clinic because he has not been able to walk at all.
I could have never forgotten the next patient. She was an older woman who had the most disturbing wound on her leg. Michael took off her bandages and not surprisingly, her wound looked a bit worse than two weeks ago. It was about a 2 inch wide wound that basically wrapped around her whole leg. The muscle, bone, tissue and cartilage were all fully exposed. It looked like there was also some type of green fungus growing on the tissue. It was so nasty to see flies land on her wound and hover around it- she is definitely asking for an infection. Anyways, it sure was disturbing to see that again, but at the same time, it was pretty awesome.
After Michael finished re-bandaging her wound, it was just about time for us to leave to go back to the home base. We were able to see one last patient- I remembered him from last week. He was an older man whose knee was totally dislocated. I could clearly see his patella about 3 inches down from his femur. Same as last week, Michael pushed up on the patella to try to maneuver it back into place. However, this was not working- he was screaming in so much pain, so he kept drinking his bottle of gin.
All in all, I really enjoyed my visits to the bone setter. Between the unsanitary conditions, the patient's wounds, and just the way of going about treatment and healing, it has been extremely memorable.