Thursday, November 15, 2012

an alt-medicine fiesta

I accumulated enough stuff to do today that I just bailed on work entirely. In between fetching my motorcycle from the shop in the morning, and getting the oil changed and tires rotated on the car in the afternoon, I did a Great Circle of the Bay Area, visiting a Chinese medicine guy in San Francisco and a wacky hippie doctor who defies description in Oakland. These were probably the last step in my Quest For Sleep before going to talk to an actual medical doctor (which would be sad, since I find them mostly useless).

(The Oakland guy is a certified and practiced chiropractor and obviously very smart, but he uses these magnetic-field generators and he sets off my low-level Bullshit Detector. Except that magnetic fields are used for various therapies, as they induce currents in the body, and our nerves do run on electricity. The world is a big place and there's a lot we don't understand.)

The Chinese medicine guy listened to my issue--essentially, waking up many hours too early--and said it was a pretty standard case, which was a relief, since he'd thought my case would be "out on the fringe somewhere." Then he actually took my pulses, whereupon he decided his theory was wrong, and we talked about how to address the massive chi and yin deficiency he found. I don't think he has a theory about the insomnia, actually: I asked him about it twice, and both times he sort of circled around it and talked about the underlying issue. Whatever: he could tell I'm deeply fatigued, and he suggested a couple over-the-counter supplements that won't hurt me in any case, and unlike obscure Chinese concoctions, I don't think there's any worry about the supplements interfering with the obscure Ayurveda concoctions I normally take. (Traditional medicine systems are great, but you shouldn't mix and match.) In particular he said I have a massive B-vitamin deficiency.

He also got my pulses more or less back in sync somehow--my wrist pulse was delayed from my neck pulse, and if you're healthy all your pulses should happen at the same time.

After a stop at Rainbow Grocery to buy supplements and lunch, I headed over to Oakland to see Dr. Hippie.

Holy crap.

I didn't try retaining the vocabulary for what this guy was doing, but basically he put a thing around my head with electromagnets controlled by a computer (but not touching my skin). The first phase was diagnosis, where, I gather, the computer manipulates the electromagnets so they use electromagnetic pulses like sonar, bouncing them off different...things, to get information about different parts of the body. I didn't get a picture of the machine, but it looks like it's from 1980 and it was made by "Maitreya, Ltd.",

Bullshit Detector notwithstanding, Dr. Hippie came up with a very similar profile to Dr. Chinese, even though he was reading straight from the computer--the only thing he knew about beforehand was the insomnia. Common things:
  • Systemwide fatigue, where parts of my body are not getting enough energy.
  • Broad B-vitamin deficiency.
  • My liver is a little crabby. (Dr. Ayurveda has done a lot of work for that this year, so I'm not surprised.)
Dr. Hippie's machinery pulled out some other useful and pretty accurate results, and then he proceeded to have it adjust...things. It does double duty as both diagnosis and treatment, depending on what you have the computer do with the electromagnets. I did start to get drowsy while the treatment part was running: qualitatively different than any usual afternoon drowsiness, but it was an unusual day.
"When do you want to go to sleep and wake up?"
"Uh...exact times?"
"10 P.M. to 6 A.M.?"
"Okay, that'll take a few minutes."
Apparently this is a thing he can do. I'm very interested to see what happens tonight.


  1. Not to be, you know, *that guy*, but, ah, have you actually thought about going to see a real doctor with a degree in something that has been accredited by the AMA?

  2. No, that's an excellent question.

    My experience of doctors is that they're fantastic for things like cancer, stitches, organ removal, and broken bones. When you say things like "I'm fatigued" or "I can't stay asleep" (which is, as far as I can tell, not a super common issue), you get weeks or months of tests that wind up inconclusive. (Unless you have cancer or something, but that doesn't seem likely here.) By contrast, I've been seeing Ayurveda people for about 7 years, with consistent obvious good results.

    Honestly, besides being underslept, I haven't had the energy to deal with a time-consuming effort that's not likely to yield much of an outcome. I'm feeling better now than I was earlier in the year, so yes, it's probably time to try anyway.