The Art of Chinese Medicine

Part 1: My Grandfather

Gemma Jiang, PhD

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Image Credit: Dragon Images / Shutterstock

Earlier this year I visited a traditional Chinese medicine/TMC doctor in Atlanta for the first time in my eleven years living in the United States. The whole experience felt like visiting with an old friend. I enjoyed the conversation, the atmosphere, the pulse reading. Towards the end of the visit, tears suddenly welled up in my eyes while I was watching the doctor assembling the herbal medicine. I was flooded with gratitude for the legacy of my grandfather, who was a TCM doctor. His medical practice and way of living influenced me in innumerable ways.

My story with Chinese medicine started at birth. In the late 1980s in rural China, most babies were delivered at home. It was not a fashionable option among many others accessible to mothers in modern industrialized societies. It was the only option because hospitals were too far away from the remote countryside. My birth was not an exception. Perhaps it was the midwife’s poor hygiene practice. Perhaps it was a difficult birth, or some other complications. The legend I was told growing up was that shortly after my delivery, a respiratory infection caused severe breathing difficulties. Alarmed by my purpled face from lack of oxygen, Mother inquired to Grandfather whether I should be sent to the hospital. “She won’t make it.” Grandfather replied. He was not joking: the infant mortality…

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Gemma Jiang, PhD

Senior Team Scientist, Colorado State University; Complexity Leadership Scholar and Practitioner; also at https://www.linkedin.com/in/gemma-jiang/