Sunday, November 22, 2015

First Thanksgiving in Taiwan

Not quite a year has passed since my last big trip (Nepal), and I find myself packing again!

This time around, the focus is family, but I may find myself wandering around the central parts of Taiwan, if I get a chance… as I have yet to explore that land!

I'm packing with my parents, older sister, brother-in-law and nephew - The last time I went with fam, I was only 10!

Though I’m used to going to Asia for 2-3 months at a time; and two weeks seems like a mere "mini trip," I’m gonna keep those neurons firing like its all or nothing!!

The Yu-sibs and Grandparents in Kaoshiung, Taiwan (1999?)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Life Here Can be Overwhelming, but Trust the Process to Slow it Down

March 4, 2014

I wake from my first night home in my own queen-sized bed under a fluffy down comforter and pillow. It’s 4pm?! Apparently I just slept 20 hours straight.

I told Nichole I’d stop by Alpine... since they close in an hour, I quickly get ready.

I stand before my closet and dresser of clothes and freeze; I am overwhelmed by the choices I have, and I never even thought I had many. I wore virtually the same three pairs of pants and two shirts everyday for the last 60 days. I eat breakfast/lunch (…or is it dinner?) and go.

The clinic is less than ten minutes away, with no major traffic lights or freeways needed to get there. I focus on the road only, and barely notice anything else. I don’t think I can handle much more stimulus.

There is a new receptionist I’ve never met before. It’s already different…I stumble for words. I am a bit delirious - or overwhelmed...but I manage to tell her I work here; and I go on back. Nichole and Kelly are there – I’m so happy to see them both, and give them two big hugs…but of course they are the two people that are leaving…

I was so excited to come back to Alpine, and start working with you again, mentoring, collaborating, dreaming and manifesting, all the while, having a fun time. Now, things are changing – not the way I had anticipated – and I am forced to re-evaluate and figure out what I want – again. People keep telling me it will be a great opportunity…I don’t know. It’s overwhelming and I disagree.

Hmm how often do we contemplate the meaning of that word?

In Bhimpedi, I walked the same 500-1000m everyday, and still haven’t met all the faces, or tried all the “restaurants,” or noticed all the plants and flowers. I saw some patients ~10-15 times in seven weeks and still didn’t address all their complaints. I worked and lived with the same five doctors 24/7 for 60 days, and felt as if I just started to get to know them.

Now I am in this world with so much freedom, options, choices, opportunities…yet too often we hear life associated with the word…mundane. Are we overwhelmed with this plethora of stimulus and options that we just tune it all out, and thus life becomes mundane? Might it also be that I am part of this “millennial generation,” where if I don’t dream big, I am a failure? I have no story?

Que garne? What to do??

Its like that time I was on the cliff meditating. I don’t have to look at the horizon, or look at every single tree I see. I can focus in on ground below me, and maybe a couple trees in front of me.

I don’t have to accept every complaint a patient presents to me. We can focus on a few at a time.

I don’t have to go back to school now, or experience every possible profession my credentials allows for now. I can try one out and give it time.

I can always change the treatment plan later, or take a different path later if necessary.

I wrote a blog about "trusting the process" in the context of patient care and treatment plan. I need to trust the process for myself too. I keep worrying about a lack of story I have for myself. I must trust that I am living that story and it is there. Healing takes time. A story takes time too.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lightning and Thunder Comes and Goes Part II

March 3, 2015

I’m seeing the Northern Cascades of the Pacific Northwest. Same same but different.
So beautiful
I love you so much
Mt. Baker from my final airplane ride home
It’s reminding me to bring back what and how I learned or how I am/was in Nepal. How I interact with friends, family, colleagues, patients...

In case we forget about exactly what we said or what we did, I will never forget how you made me feel – worthy of love and compassion. Danubaht and Namaste.

Whether I am ready or not, I’m going back home… whether I am ready or not, my sati is not sitting next to me, holding my hand.

Things come and go. Like thunder. Like friends. Doctors come and go too…that’s life, but during the time there, I made some tear-jerking friends, and the locals met some compassionate and wise doctors and received some great care.

Was this trip to Nepal worthwhile? Did I make a difference? Did I make a positive difference?  I serviced others well. I believe my colleagues did so too. Did I service myself well? I believe so too.

Service to community? --community back home – well that one is to be continued…

Jack welcomed me home!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lightning and Thunder Comes and Goes

February 18, 2015

Its 8:45PM and dark; the whole town is shut down and everyone appears to be sleeping. We hear thunder. And then it’s gone. We see faint flashes of lights.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to sit in a thunder and rain storm?

We’re sitting on two rocks just outside Auntie’s house. Staring off into the horizon.

A perfect bright pink lightning bolt splits the sky. Blackness

Comes and goes.
There. Not there.

Even the in-between, with the plain darkness – there is so much beauty.

Is it because I know what it is capable of? Because I am anticipating something extraordinary?

Or something else...?

Drop of rain.
Hail storm!

Next morning - the sun illuminates the circumference of every tree in the backdrop. The dust and dirt all dampened to the ground.
February 26, 2015

It's now the last day of clinic. I’ve created so many relationships over the last two months, and though I am used to people coming and going from my life, I wonder about the patients – and their care (or lack of care) as the clinic closes for six months; and they will not have any reliable doctor whom they trust to care for them. Though we have been prepping them since day one - that our presence is not forever - how will they do on their own? It feels wrong…to just let them go…

There. Not there.

Is there beauty in the in-between, in the darkness?

Are we making positive change?

I hope so…

(to be continued)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Namaskar Uncle Lal

February 21, 2015
Saturday afternoons we have off. I need a break from working on my case study. I abruptly leave the dinning table, and take off without any word. I find myself in lotus pose yet again at a space on the ridge between two others I have been before. I see the bridge to my left where we cross to walk to Kogate and Suping. I see the jail on my right, near the field where l I often walk to in the morning.

I space out into the horizon, waiting, hoping…

Why am I always looking as far as I can, searching for something?

I look closer at a tree in front of me. Nothing. Closer, to the ground below me. Just dead grass and pebbles…

Well, would I be sitting on the alive plants in the adjacent field? No…

This grass that gives me a place to sit and meditate, and be “grounded” is here because it is dead and flat. I put each hand on a shrub of dead grass on either side of me. My hands float so my palms can meet above my head. Coincidentally, wind begins to stir around me. My palms settle down to my heart center. The wind stops. Stillness. My spine is long, and I am light and elated, yet rooted and calm.

It is the dead that support us, earths us, keep us present. Like Uncle Lal….


I’ve observed and

Watched you smile and dance.

I tried to keep you in mind as Bex’s patient, and separate myself because I was scared; I know I haven’t said much, but I feel I got to know you a bit over time. Your stories and your suave captured your life. I hope you know.

The way your nephew talks about you. The way your daughters and wife care for you - I know you were and will be well loved.

I heard your body was to be carried down. I was at clinic, and couldn’t leave my current patients, but all I was thinking, “I have to be there.”

I was given a way out to come see you one last time. I almost started running. I got to your house, and you weren’t there. Lost in translation, but I heard it was done. Pacing back and forth, unsure of what to do. But knew I couldn’t go back to clinic just yet. Then a mysterious man – your uncle? - took my hand, and ran me down to your funeral.

As we finally arrived, it looked as if the others were about to leave. Bex saw me and approached me, gave me a handful of gravel and dirt. I held it in my hands, without words knew exactly what to do. The family was telling me to throw it. I hesitated. Not yet. I must say one last prayer. The space was filling up you and your belongings disappearing. There were more sensations in my chest than words or prayers could describe. Rest in peace. Shanti shatnti shanti. So thankful and glad to have met you. You were always complaining – or wishing - to give when you were too sick to. “I wish I could paint you a painting. I wish I could go out and dance with you.I wish I could work, so my family wouldn’t have to work so hard…” But you did, you gave your family, and us all a chance to receive and give back, to feel love and compassion.

Though it was so painful to watch you suffer in your last hours, I saw your daughters hold your hand and chest, keeping you comfortable and safe. I saw your nephew shed tears as he took his turn to hold you. I saw your wife touch your face and prayed to God to take you, and relieve your suffering as soon as possible.

And the dirt and gravel flung from my hands. I watched it fly and fill the space, I took a step back, and my eyes instantly began to flood. I barely knew you, but you’ve touched me somehow, Uncle. I hope you know that too. Rest in peace and Namaskar.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Annoyed or Grateful?

February 15, 2015
Annoyed or Grateful?

“I have gastric pain”
“Okay, can you show me where?”
Patient points to her head.

The day starts and I’m a bit on edge; dialogues like this add up, and I’m beginning to get annoyed.

“My knees hurt”
“Ok, how long has it been?” go to start palpate knees
“and I have back pain!”
“Ok, wait, your knees…
“And when I bend over, and do this and that and this and that, its pain here, and here.” Patient flailing their limbs around, eliciting all sorts of pains

Trying to take needle an acupuncture needle near the elbow. “Just relax your arm.” Patient lifts their elbow towards me. “No, just relax.” Patient keeps lifting arm towards me. Patient locks their elbows “Relax!!” ….”duksha (pain)!”

Can’t remember how to say “see you tomorrow.” So….“Oodera jonkey” The first line of a chorus to a local folk song - I say to a patient as he gets up to leave.
“da-nama bangjiang”
“Resam pre ri ri”

It’s the first time I see him smile.

Some light to the day! The smallest things in life – really

I recall these scenes with my colleagues. We all laugh.

Annoyed? Or grateful?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Trust the Process

February 10, 2015

When you first came in, I flipped through you thick chart with apprehension. You are 76 years old and I feel your pain won’t improve.

I don’t want to lead you on, don’t want you to think I can heal your pain – especially since you walk to get here with your cane, and need to stop two times in a walk that I could do in 15 minutes.

You can’t lie down and I cannot thoroughly assess your back. You’ve been to the hospital and the health post with no satisfaction. You’ve tried injections and medications.

I tell you I don’t know if I can help much, yet you continuously come twice a week. Today was the 10th time I saw you. You no longer need to stop and rest, you come with a smile on your face. Though we still speak different languages, I feel we are now communicating with one universal language. We are able to look each other in the eyes; the translator is no longer an obstacle. We no longer need to speak about your pain. I know the pattern. Instead we now get to talk about your land, your farm, animals, your children, your grandchildren, what you enjoy cooking for breakfast, and even professional wrestling…

Healing takes time. Trust the process.