On Saturday night I returned from my trip to China to learn about traditional Chinese medicine. I love the trip and really did not want to return home. We spent weekdays in lectures and on trips to museums to increase our knowledge about the different herbs and techniques that they use. Nearing the end of our trip we were aloud to practice acupuncture and a practice called cupping, which involves burning cotton with 90% alcohol, placing it into a jar to remove the oxygen and then sticking it to someones back. Anyone who is a student nurse or just knows about Britain’s health and safety policies would know that student nurses don’t often get to practice on each other as it is considered abuse. This is probably a good thing as by the end of the session half of the class looked like they had been abused, they were covered in burns/Hickeys all over their backs. We had no acupuncture training, expect for an hour introduction power point to it and even less to cupping.
I am on the fence about traditional Chinese medicine as there is very little scientific research into it and we were just told stories which often sounded very far fetched. What i gathered from Chinese medicine is that they treat the symptoms, they are not interested in someones chest infection or cold, they just want to know how they feel and then they decide what herbs to give them.
These beds weren’t old ones that weren’t being used, I saw porters dropping off these beds and wheeling them into the hospital. There are so many reasons why these beds should be thrown out. The mattresses are so thin that patients are very likely to develop pressure ulcers, the mattresses are worn away to the foam, which means that bacteria could be living inside of it. its very hard to clean properly and they are keeping them outside/ in a dirty old shed
We were taking to two different places in the hospital, the first was a burns and cosmetic surgery unit. We met a very kind doctor who explained to us about the different types of care given and about the different patients that they had at the time. We asked whether he used traditional Chinese medicine in his practice and he told us there was no place for it in burns. Bare in mind that there was 20 of us in our group, after being split into two, We were then shown three different patients. The first patient had 70% burns and was covered head to toe in bandages. The sexond was a 3 year old child who had lived on a farm, the parents had been burning the grass and thought that the fires had stopped but they sparked up again and the child was burnt. He had over 50% burns to his body and the first thing I noticed was his fingers, they didn’t resemble fingers, they looked like blackened stubs. We were told that he would eventually have them amputated. The doctor told us that it was very uncommon for farmers to bring their sick/injured children to hospital, especially in the case of the child. They usually let them die because they cannot afford to keep someone who cannot pull their weight around the farm. This broke my heart because I could not imagine having to make such a hard decision to either watch my child die or watch the rest of the family suffer.
The third patient was working in a factory when there was an explosion, he suffered 90% burns and the only part that hadn’t been burnt was his stomach. He had been on the unit for 2 months and had atleast another month to go. He had undergone 10 operations and still had many more to come but he would never look like himself again, he would probably never be able to work again. All of the patients were lying under what looked like a sunbed suspended from the ceiling, these were designed to prevent the patients from getting hypothermia as they skin was so damaged the temperature controls don’t work in the same way anymore.
We then went to a dermatology ward where the doctors practice traditional Chinese medicine. My first impression of the ward was not a good one. There were atleast 10 patients on beds in the corridors and it didn’t look like a temporary thing, they were surrounded by their belongings. The doctors did not show us around the ward but wanted to practice a technique called bleeding on us. I showed them my arms and asked if there were any herbs I could take to make the skin smoother and they replied “well I don’t know if bleeding will work, I could make it worse but I want to try anyway” they seemed to be only interested in bleeding patients. It involves cutting the top of a patients ears and letting blood out for a few minutes. I was willing to try until another nursing student pointed out to me that they had not seen them wash their hands after their other patient and I didn’t think the risk was worth it. The doctors did not seem to be doing a great deal with their patients, most of the care seemed to be provided by the patients family.
I really enjoyed my trip to China and it has changed the way that I think about many different things. Life experiences are what make nurses better at their jobs.