I became interested in acupuncture after
getting malaria in Sri Lanka when I was traveling back to the UK following my first visit
to Japan. I had to take this medication which had worse side-effects than the disease
itself and even though the doctors in the UK were telling me that all my tests were clear,
I was still getting very high fevers and sweats. A friend kept on asking me if I wanted to
try acupuncture and I was like "nah, nah", but eventually I gave it a go and it
was great. That motivated me to come back to Japan to study acupuncture and then later
open the clinic.
When I first started my acupuncture clinic I was a bit concerned about the fact that I was
a foreigner and many of my patients were Japanese. But, in the end, they all come in,
they' all sick, they all need help and I can help them out so there's never been much of
a problem. I think when someone's in need, it doesn't matter what color you are or who you
are, if you can help that's all that's important.
Chaos. That's an average day. We open at 10am, and it varies depending on the time of
year, but on average we see about twenty people a day. On some days we've done 25 or 26
people, but because we've only got four beds we've had them sitting out in the waiting
room with needles in them.
Medicine is a humorous business, and if the patient and the doctor can see the funny side
of it, it really helps the healing process. I've had loads of embarrassing moments in my
clinic. One time I was needling this woman and she got hold of my trousers and pulled them
down, leaving me standing half naked in the middle of the clinic. Another time, a lady
patient whipped her hair around and somehow it got stuck in my fly. I don't know how it
got caught; we were pulling at her hair and pulling at my fly and no-one could get it out.
That's probably the most embarrassing thing that's happened to me. It was just bizarre.
Quite a lot of the problems I see are stress-related, but you know, you can trace most
things back to stress in some way. I think the frenetic pace here is a contributing
factor, there's no other place that functions like this. Of all the patients that I have,
the ones who are here for study reasons are the ones who fare best; they get better
sooner. Those that are really interested in their work also do well. But those who come
here purely for monetary reasons, or because their company sent them, are the ones who
have the most problems.
Oddly enough the people who come from the healthiest countries suffer the most in Tokyo.
New Zealanders and Canadians, suffer a lot from respiratory problems because the air is so
good where they come from and the air here kind of shocks their system...whereas me,
coming from smoky old London, I don't have to worry about that.
The worst thing about Tokyo is probably Shibuya on a Sunday morning. You feel like a
salmon swimming against the bloody current, except that a salmon can always give up and
float back. But in Shibuya, every direction you go there're always people coming towards
you...that's when I feel really foreign...like a foreign body in a huge immune system
that's trying to eject you.
In the future, I just want to try to be happy, try and have a holiday, and the people that
I couldn't help today, I want to be able to help tomorrow.
Edward Obaidey's clinic is in Sangenjaya. For an appointment, call 3418-8989.
Edward Obaidey spoke to Richard James.
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