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Friday, May 25, 2007

The Tibetan Cure

I now sit back in Canada reminiscing about my final - and one of the most meaningful health encounter in India. Dr. Yeshi Dhonden - most commonly referred to as the Dalai Lama's Doctor.

Dr. Dhonden is a world renowned physician, and served the Dalai Lama personally from 1960 to 1980, and yet unlike getting in to see a specialist in Canada, Yeshi Dhonden is very accessible to everyone.

Having come out of a 10 day Vipassan meditation retreat my back was a little troubled and clearly announcing it's presence with pain. It apparently didn't like being subjected to 10 hours of daily sitting. Luckily some friends told me about the Dalai Lama's doctor and that anyone could get in to see him. It was a date!

A few days later a gang of precocious backpackers gathered in the early morning (5am) in the main square of McLeod Ganj. We wandered down the empty streets, urine bottles in hand (one of the Dr's diagnostic tools), until we found the small line up that already began to form at the clinic's front door. At 7am an elderly monk came out and handed out numbers to those waiting patiently in line. A total of 40 numbers are available daily. With our numbers securely in our pockets we went to have an anticipatory breakfast before the clinic officially opened at 8.

With my belly full I returned to the clinic and sat in the waiting room until it was my turn. A wobbly monk would occasionaly come out of the doctor's office and guide people wordlessly down the hall. When my turn came he encouraged me to follow him to a sink. Demonstrated that he wanted me to pour my bottle of pee into his cup, where he whisked it, observed quickly the peculiarities of my morning pee and immediately poured it down the drain. He then guided me into the Doctor's office, sat me down, grabbed my hands and with his fingers observed my pulse. This was Yeshi Dhonden himself. He looked me in the eye and pointed at his back and abdomen. I whole hartedly agreed, yes those are definitely the areas where I need some help.

Another young Doctor in the office served as translator and told me they needed to work on Kidney energy. I was given a prescription written in Tibetan and asked to leave the office but return in a week for further evaluation. The entire visit took about 5 minutes. At the clinic's pharmacy my prescription was filled and I received 4 bags of little brown pellets, to be taken at specific times throughout the day with a glass of warm water. The pellets made up of different herbs look and taste like rabbit turd (I'm assuming, I don't really know what rabbit turd tastes like) whi makes chewing them as instructed a distasteful act, but well worth it.

Within a couple of days my back started to improve as did my energy. I returned to the doc. after taking my pulse he changed one of the herbs and gave me a 2 month supply, sying I should be all better by then.

I've been keeping to the pellet chewing schedule and feeling good about it - I don't even make faces anymore while I down the herbs! I'll let you all know how it goes.

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