7/28 – Cupping!!

Day Thirty-Six – Friday, July 28

Today was one of the most fun and entertaining days yet!  Class today was… interesting.

IMG_4038.JPGWe walked into the school in the morning to find the building in shambles.  Plaster was being scraped off the wall, people were soldering metal inside, and everything in our classroom was in disarray.  Anthony and I were the first in the classroom to notice this; later our TAs walked in and we’re shocked.  After sorting out our classroom, we were told about an hour into school that we had to move upstairs because they needed to repair the computer in our room.  Our class was moved to the second floor lecture room – the tables were all arranged facing forward and it wasn’t like a normal classroom with desks.  We walked to the class to find cigarettes butts, shattered plastic, ashes, and trash strewn about the room.  As I said, shambles.  We had to find a janitor to clean it before we could even step in because of the filth.  For the whole day, the room smelled of cigarette smoke and our poor TAs had to speak with the microphone over the loud construction happening right outside our window!

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On the bus to cupping

But to at least our lesson today was fun!  We learned about going to the doctors and compared traditional Chinese medicine to western.  Our TA Kaylie introduced a few TCM therapies to our class, including acupuncture, cupping, and skin scraping (don’t know a better translation for this one).  A bunch of us had been planning to get cupping (like the Olympic athletes) and thought that today would be perfect because we just learned about it.  Lily helped us find a place and coincidentally, today they were running a special offer where cupping was just 1kuai per person!!  Almost our entire class 2 went, and we even convinced ZhuZhu and Kaylie to come with us!

Our bus ride was also interesting.  First, Lily took us the wrong way on the 70 so we got off at the first stop to cross the road.  David got off the bus first and literally ran in front of a truck across the road.  Honestly, one second he was with us, and the next he was gone.  He almost died – he waited for the truck driver to make eye contact and speed up before he darted towards traffic across the road.  I felt so bad for BBC (his lp) because he was so scared and always feels like he has to babysit David.  Later that day when we crossed the road, BBC grabbed David’s arm like a 5 year old.

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David, Anthony, and Garrett

I didn’t feel nervous about cupping until we arrived at the place.  The interior was very nice and professional – the cupping room was upstairs in a closed room.  There were three tables, which worked out perfectly because there were three boys and three girls.  The guys went first, with Garrett being the sacrificial lamb.  We all stood and watched in fear/awe as the person of a stick of fire under a bamboo cup and then placed it on his back. He said he felt fine, which was a little hard to believe considering we could literally see his skin being vacuumed up in the cup.  After all the guys had them on they waited for about 10 minutes, after which Garrett was the first to have his removed.  When the doctor took the first one off, he loudly said “oh!” as if something went wrong.  Garrett’s marks were super dark purple (usually just a mild red) and puffed up a ton.  Anthony’s were also too dark, but more normal than Garrett’s.  The two of them looked like turtles because of how lumpy their backs were!

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Me as a “hedgehog”

Now for us girls!  All the guys left the room and it was just me, Sydney, Lexi, Lily, Kaylie, and ZhuZhu.  After an awkward minute of debating who was gonna strip first and have the cupping done, I said I would try it first.  When the first cup went on, it didn’t really hurt it just felt like someone had stuck a vacuum on my back.  After a bunch went on (I had 15 in total), it was a little hard to breathe because my skin was being sucked up off my back.  The last cup they put on was over my left shoulder and it hurt so bad!  It was just like a tugging pain that came from the overwhelming pressure.  The three of us tried to chat while we’re were laying there (longest 10 min of my life) but we kept making each other laugh, which really hurt.  Our TAs were cheering us on but also laughing at us.  One of them used a translator to say we looked like a bunch of hedgehogs!  Sydney got hers off first (not fair) and everyone said her marks looked just normal.  Mine came off second and they were also all normal – a little dark – except for the painful one on my shoulder.  This one was incredibly dark purple and did not look ok.  According to TCM, this means that I eat too many foods and drinks that are “cold in nature.”  We were instructed not to use air conditioning for 4 hours and shower for 6 hours after this was done…  but of course David went out and bought an ice cold Red Bull five minutes after his were done.

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Me, Kaylie, and Anthony at Zoo Coffee

Outside the shop, we spent a good 15 minutes just in shock and awe of what we’d just done.  We also compared our marks – Garrett then Anthony won for worst/darkest marks.  Our TAs – who were too scared to do it themselves – were so impressed/nervous/intrigued by our cupping results.  Most of us then caught a bus towards Anthony’s house to meet up with RD Isabel at the biang biang noodle shop.  She laughed at our marks but was also scared as to what parents back home would think (esp because she is in charge of us)!  Later, Kaylie, BBC, ZhuZhu, Isabel, Anthony, and I went to zoo coffee for an after dinner drink.  To both Anthony and my despair, we could only get hot drinks because of our cups!  We were also starting to feel super sore where the cups were and it hurt to lean back against anything.  Sleeping tonight was pretty rough…

I was so glad that I could spend so much time with our TAs today!  Kaylie and ZhuZhu went out with us for the first time today… and they got to experience their students at their very best (slightly in pain and half naked for cupping lol)!  From the shambles to the cups, today wins for being the most interesting day yet!