Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chinese medicine

One area that has often created tension between us has been the issue of chinese medicine.

Now I am a medical practitioner, a doctor, in fact a specialist in my field, and yet I seem to be outranked at home on all medical issues by my mother-in-law, who seems to believe that all ailments can be treated by prescribing a weed, root, or some other dried out plant substance.

Now it wouldn't bother me so much if this was how NaiNai, as I call her (means grandmother in Chinese), simply used Chinese medicine on herself, but this is in fact all about our son, and how he gets treated.

When my son gets a fever for instance, I see it as a fever, however NaiNai and my wife (whom I will call Ms B), see it as the child not having drunk enough water, or the child being upset by something and thus having too much fire in his system.

Even worse they visit these unregulated dispensers of these weeds whom I call witch doctors, who seem to re-inforce this bizarre notion that any ailment can be treated with a mixture of a few dry plants.

Unfortunately, being in the medical field, I know only too well how risky Chinese medicine is. In fact I know of patients in the hospital I attend who have developed cirrhosis of the liver or end stage kidney disease because they have consumed these weeds. And they have died as a result!

But does Ms B listen to me? No.

This is an odd response from an otherwise intelligent woman who is highly educated and highly advanced in her field. And yet she believes in something that in her eyes, can never be disproved, even with hard science.

Remarkably, this is a woman who refuses to believe in religion, because as she says, there is absolutely no proof that God exists. Yet she believes in so many other things with no proof, including superstitions, which I will touch on later.

Married to the Mother-in-law

Well, my first genuine misunderstanding was that I didn't realise that getting married meant having the mother-in-law immediately move in with us.

She is an 86 year old lady but in quite good shape for her age, but as soon as we got married she flew out from China and into our home. She has not left since.

The woman is a widow and I know that its the right thing to do, but I simply was not expecting it.

My mother-in-law doesn't speak a word of English but she does all our cooking, and this has freed me and the wife to focus on our careers. Its not a bad thing, but it has some disadvantages.

For instance, the primary language in my own home is Mandarin, and given the language barrier, it means that I am left out of most conversations.

What do you like/dislike most about Chinese women?