The Power of the Pulse (Part 2)

Continued from yesterday…

We both smiled and chuckled a little and I could tell she was not intending to be critical.

“Look,” she said, “I raised a daughter on my own and we’re so enmeshed it’s incredible. At a certain point you’re going to move away from that, too. You’re going to have criticisms and doubts.”

Her hand continues to press into my wrist to take my pulse. I nod in an exaggerated fashion, indicating that I’m already there.

“You’re your own person, ok?”

“Ok,” I say, as if it were that simple. Slowly, she takes her hand from my wrist and returns it to her lap where the charts still rest. She lets out another long breath, leans upright on her stool, and looks me directly in the eyes softly.

“Look,” I say, “I took Aleve the last time I had my period, and I was able to walk around the house and even smile at people. But I can’t keep covering up the pain. There’s something there, something brewing. All that pain and hardly any bleeding? It makes no sense. I’ve got to deal with this and find out what my body is trying to tell me. Why am I holding everything in?” I forget, for a moment, that I’m talking to her at all. Then I see her nodding in agreement.

“At your age, if you deal with this now your experience with menopause will be so much smoother. You’re right, there is something there. You’ve got to dig it up. Specifically, your kidneys and spleen are deficient,” she explains. I’ve heard this before, but the way she explains this time it actually registers and I appreciate it when she assures me I’ll see results within one month, and probably won’t ever have to resort to The Pill again.

She goes on to describe red blood cell counts and hormone production (in Western medical terms), then switches to Chinese terms and chi. “You were given blood letting herbs. You need more nourishment. You need blood invigorating. And you need a kidney tonic and a spleen tonic, and you’re an athlete so you probably have pretty good aim so you’ll hit fifty percent of the trees you aim for if you really get out there and give it a go with those Mason jars.”

I smile broadly at her, all my trust transferred. But I remind her, “And what about the obsessing thing? You see, it happens if I meet someone, anyone, really, and he gets under my skin, and that’s it. It’s like, I’d rather spend my mental energy in other ways, but I can’t. I drive myself crazy. I’m fine in action, but in thought, Lord help me.” I am more animated now, clearly showing my exasperation with myself.

“It’s the kidneys. Your chi is clogging. You need a better filter. The teas will help. And,” she pauses dramatically, then tips her head so she’s looking at me above the rim of her glasses, “you’ve got to tell Margot about this. Tell her I said you need a dai and she’ll know what I mean. Come back and see me in one month and I’ll check your pulse again.”

Then she thwaps! her hands on my knees as she gets up, smiles one more time, and whisks out the door. For the rest of the day my breathing is calm, steady, and ready for anything. I get home and call Jo to tell him about the herbs I’ll need and see if he’s still up for our bartering agreement.

“Yeah, sure uh-huh, gotcha,” he says as I stumble over Chinese pronunciations. “Got ‘em all, not outta anything. Just come on by, ya know, I’ll be around. Weekends are always interesting though, hah! We can do more pressing for tinctures or gosh, geez, there’s all kindsa work around here.”

  • Marisa

    Katey, this is such good stuff. Both the writing and the emotional/mental/spiritual work you are doing. Tell me again, why weren’t we closer in college?

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