This past Tuesday was one of those days that made me thankful for my Chinese heritage. I’ve been battling with a weird “acne” condition on my face all year and am not quite sure what it is. It’s not your usual breakout and seems to be more along the lines of some sort of inflammation than your typical “adult acne”…which is what the dermatologist told me this past February and prescribed some topical ointment that didn’t do anything for it other than dry out my skin AND make it appear more oily. Then I thought it was eczema, of which I got some ointment for but still…did not take care of the craters showing up. And then I was told it was a hormonal problem and should take birth control pills for it.
Fed up, I felt like it was time to take control and take a different route…seeing a Chinese healer. Thankfully, my mother told me of Uncle Bing’s Chinese doc. Uncle Bing has been a family friend since I was a baby and his daughter Natalie, is one of my best friends since childhood, was my first pen pal, and also was my maid-of-honor. Uncle Bing had frustratingly seen doctor after doctor and when he still did not feel better he went and saw the Chinese doc. After one visit and some herbal medicine, he was all better. This gave me hope.
So Mom rang up Uncle Bing and found out that the Chinese doc only sees patients out of his home in Monterey Park on weekdays from 9-12 and then from 3-6 and he only charges $10. Apparently he used to have a private practice, got sick, and now only practices out of his home as his seva (service).
Mom and I met at the house and in a typical SoCal suburban neighborhood. We walk up to the door and she rings the doorbell. Through the screen door we hear a man say, “Come in!” My mom and I walk in and the house inside is freezing. The temperature inside the house is colder than it is outside. I see an older man sitting in the living room speaking to 2 women. A lady dressed in a turtleneck and 4 layers of fleece walks towards us and told us to take a seat. We sit down at the only available seating which was at the kitchen table. She sits across from us as if the 3 of us have always sat together like this; she picks up a wide bowl of bright green soup, takes a slurp, burps, and continues slurping.
Thankfully, she speaks Cantonese and I’m able to understand the exchange her and my mom begin to have and find out that she’s the doc’s wife. My mom curiously asks what she’s eating and tells her it looks good. The lady says it tastes horrible; it’s 10 different vegetables, boiled and blended, and she eats a bowl of it everyday. It looked deceptively good…like yummy Brazilian green sauce. She asks Mom how long she’s lived in the U.S. I guess she deemed my mom as being American when she asked my mom if she had heard of cashmere and wondered if it was warm. They go on to talk about cashmere undergarments. I sat there in amusement and thought about how quickly Chinese people make themselves so comfortable with one another after having just met for 5-minutes. It’s endearing and also makes me feel ‘at home’. There’s something about speaking a different language and being amongst those that are also of the same culture…there’s just an understanding even without words.