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Wang Dai Fu, Man About Town.

Wang Dai Fu's Gang. From left to right; Dr. Wen, our translator and the hospital's anesthesiologist, Al, with his head finally not cut off at the top during a group shot, Wang Dai Fu, without a smile, he doesn't have to, and Linda with a smile, she doesn't have to either.

Wang Dai Fu. That means Dr. Wang. Dr. Wang is the man in charge of the Bell's Palsy ward at the Yunnan Province Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Linda and I are spending a month with him.

Nobody is as cool as Wang Dai Fu. Dr. Wang wears black shirts with lightly colored floral ties. He's got this Mafia thing going on in his appearance.

Wang Dai Fu smokes and looks pretty damned good doing it. He uses his cigarette like an orchestra conductor's baton. With a trail of smoke he can direct his interns toward the greatest mysteries of acupuncture therapeutics. And he makes no excuses for it either. He doesn't have to. He's Wang Dai Fu. He's got the cool of Cleavon Little riding through the desert in the early scenes of Blazing Saddles, with the Duke Ellington orchestra swingin' in the background.

Wang Dai Fu with his trade mark oral moxa treatment.
Wang Dai Fu with his trade mark oral moxa treatment. Wang Dai Fu is the Bodhisattva of style, the Marlboro cowboy of Kunming, the Jack Nicholson of acupuncture.

And as for his therapeutics? Yeah, he's pretty good at getting results. There are many many people in Kunming who get "Zhong Feng" or Bell's Palsy. Nobody knows why, and to my knowledge, there hasn't yet been a study to determine this.

I began to put together a bit of a research project regarding lifestyles and environmental factors to try and come up with a common denominator, but our translator said that it was like not being able to see the mountain because you're inside of it. That is the Chinese equivalent of not being able to see the forest for the trees. There is so much Bell's Palsy in Kunming, its hard to get a sense of what the common denominator is to produce this, other than living in Kunming.

So, Dr. Wang's good at Bell's palsy, but what makes him special is his almost evil cool. He often works with a cigarette in his mouth. Rather than condemn it, we now say that he works with a moxibustion stick in his mouth.

The young man that he's working on in this picture came in to the clinic having suffered from Bell's Palsy for three months. He was unable to close his right eye, among other muscular pathologies on the side of his face. Two weeks later, at the time of the writing of this article, he can now close his eye. This, with an acupuncture treatment five days a week.

Al emulating Wang Dai Fu with Dr. Wang's trademark Moxa stick hanging out of his mouth.Al emulating Wang Dai Fu with Dr. Wang's trademark Moxa stick hanging out of his mouth.

Of course, I want to emulate the genius of all my teachers at the Yunnan Hospital, and the cool of Wang Dai Fu, so here I am helping with the diagnosis of a patient, with a (tobacco) moxibustion stick in my mouth.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 14, 1997 7:28 PM.

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