So we know I sprained my ankle. And I have not let it hold me back from experiencing Taiwan. What a waste it would be to sit in a room with my foot elevated in a place beckoning exploration.

Sadly, my ambitions led to my foot expanding to the size of a pillow and it became trying to put on my Nike sneakers, made for wide feet. They resembled the feet of a woman in her 9th month of pregnancy swollen and soft. Some internet research told me that it could be an edema. Not good since I am getting on a plane for 12 hours very soon.

Ice (and all suggestions by the Taiwanese vendor ladies) were no longer helping. My aunt scheduled me with an appointment to see a Zhong Yi, which means Chinese Medicine doctor.

After dinner, we traveled an hour by metro to Danshui (or Tamsui, if using Taiwanese pinyin). We walked through a night market, turned right into a dark alley and stumbled upon a building with no walls. It looked like it should have been storage space for crates of food ready to be delivered somewhere, but really was a makeshift treatment area. I can’t call it a center or an office because it was neither. It consisted of an altar with Guan Yin’s statue, 4 plastic chairs, and a treatment table that would make a massage table look like a Serta pillow-top mattress. The healer was upfront about not having official credentials but shared he has helped many after decades of experience. He had a Chinese patriarchal air about him. I was dubious.


He asked me what was wrong. When I responded, my aunt jumped in to help me explain and he told her not to speak. He also told her that he couldn’t say too much to her because she was not my parent. He put his hands on me and immediately told me that I had a heart condition and that my health was not good. He asked where I was from and what I did for a living. I told him, and he reacted in disbelief. He said, “how could you possibly have your doctorate when you can’t even take care of your health?” Anyway, a lot of questions and answers. He directed me “lay flat, turn your head all the way right, more, more, now the other way, twist this way…” and he made a few chiropractic adjustments. Then he pulled and twisted my sprained ankle. I jerked and writhed and yelped in pain. It was no matter to him, he kept on. After a minute that felt like 40, he stopped. He said that I was injured too long and needed to stop walking. He also gave me an exercise intended to repair my organ function. I told him about my food allergies and he said that I could cure it if I could heal myself. I asked how…

He said I needed to let go. My heart energy was dirty and I needed to let things go and heal myself. He told me to sit and meditate. And once I found peace, then I could really help others in my profession. He said that I should study some Chinese medicine and philosophy. He told me not to believe everything I read, especially those money-making spiritual communities that are haphazard and harmful. He began sharing anecdotes about our connections with ghosts and how sometimes we need to heal relationships with our ancestors before our bodies can heal or before we can move past emotional blockages. We conversed for quite some time.IMG_0813

The strangest thing was that prior to meeting my aunt for this journey to be treated by, I will refer to him as Shi fu, which means skilled tutor, I was reading a book which was talking about exactly that – sitting quietly to find peace. And I thought to myself, why is that so difficult for me? Yes, meditation is nothing new and there are now many masters and many practitioners worldwide so hearing this is not remarkable but the timing of it was…

I do not take every word he uttered as truth but there was something about meeting him that made an impression on me. Purpose and outcome is elusive but I feel grateful to have had that very strange experience.

The next day the swelling in my foot decreased and I was able to walk better than before. Placebo?