Tales of the Kite — A Calculated Vulcan Risk

Once there was a man who had pulmonary fibrosis, a disease of unknown cause and poor prognosis—and his very kind and very smart doctors who knew the disease well looked at him sympathetically, and with open hands said, “We’re really sorry, but we’ve got nothin’. This disease has no cure.” Well, short of opening him up like a clamshell and putting an even more unlucky person’s lungs into him—and then stitching him up and putting him on antirejection drugs for the rest of his life. If that were me, I would find the prospect both daunting and discouraging. Oh, wait. That is me.

Fast forward a little. One day he—okay, I—read a letter in the Pulmonary Fibrosis Newsletter from a patient who, more or less in desperation, had turned to Chinese herbal medicine—and after eight years of decline, is now improving. Not just feeling better, but showing better numbers in the pulmonologists’ tests. This person included the Chinese herbalist’s phone number; he’s in the Seattle area, but consults by phone. So I thought, what have I got to lose, I’ll give him a call.

Forward again. I’m just starting an intensive regimen of Chinese herbal medicine, while continuing all my other medications. Herbalist Bob says he is currently treating around five patients with PF, and all are improving. The treatment is expensive, and of course not covered by insurance. It’s accompanied by an alarmingly extreme high-meat-protein diet. The idea is to lose weight and improve the circulatory system. If I’m measurably better in four months, we’ll know it’s working. If not, it was worth a try. (While I have some doubts about the diet part, this guy is mostly about the herbs and the state of blood flow throughout the body, especially in the lungs. He doesn’t talk about chi, or energy flow, or meridians, or any of that stuff, which I find mildly reassuring.) All the herbs come from Taiwan and are tested at multiple points along the way. I’ve just had my first dose, and they don’t taste too bad.

I’m calling this story Tales of the Kite because kites make me think of Chinese lore, and also because I sometimes feel like a kite rising and dipping on the wind, anchored only by the most tenuous of threads of faith, hope, and really tiresome exercises.

Is this a risk? I suppose it is. But the alternative is certain slow decline. Herbalist Bob thinks he can get me off supplemental oxygen, and maybe fix my allergies, and wouldn’t that be great?

The journey begins with a risk. A calculated, Vulcan risk.

6 Responses

  1. JJ
    | Reply

    You’ve lucked out with the taste. When I lived in Beijing I would occasionally visit the traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to cure my colds, mostly out of curiosity. Some of the things I took were so bitter I thought I’d never be able to use to use my taste buds again.

    Here’s hoping you see improvements with your new regime. Looking forward to reading the follow up.

    • Jeffrey A. Carver
      | Reply


      • Fran Guffre
        | Reply

        I have a good feeling about this, Jeff. I hope your decision to try something less traditional goes well & you can reduce your dependence on supplemental oxygen. You have an inspiring attitude of hope. Fran

  2. Jim
    | Reply

    My prayers that this works!

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