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Earthquake Relief Fund: Rebuild Chanaute's Clinic

by Mindful Medicine Worldwide
Earthquake Relief Fund: Rebuild Chanaute's Clinic
Earthquake Relief Fund: Rebuild Chanaute's Clinic
Earthquake Relief Fund: Rebuild Chanaute's Clinic
Earthquake Relief Fund: Rebuild Chanaute's Clinic
Earthquake Relief Fund: Rebuild Chanaute's Clinic
Earthquake Relief Fund: Rebuild Chanaute's Clinic
Earthquake Relief Fund: Rebuild Chanaute's Clinic
Earthquake Relief Fund: Rebuild Chanaute's Clinic
Earthquake Relief Fund: Rebuild Chanaute's Clinic
Earthquake Relief Fund: Rebuild Chanaute's Clinic

In three week’s time we have delivered a total of 282 treatments to 70 unique patients. The age range is typically 40-60 years old and roughly 65% female.  Most patients have returned for treatments at least four times, and only 15% of patients haven’t returned at all. So far people have come to clinic seeking relief from pain (shoulder/arm, sciatica/low back pain, joint pain/arthritis, burning pain in the legs, gout), severe menopausal symptoms, hypertension, thyroid issues (mostly hypo), constipation, gastritis, urinary issues, headaches and insomnia. 

Shoulder pain is by far the most common chief complaint. So far acupuncture has been effective at alleviating pain in nearly every patient with shoulder pain.  Sometimes the pain decreases incrementally over the week and other times the pain is completely gone by the end of the treatment (but typically returns within 24-48 hours, progressively getting better throughout the week).  

Treating the same patients daily for a week affords many learning opportunities.

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Derek and his family
Derek and his family

Twenty years ago, my wife Linda and I began our partnership around our shared value of participating in compassionate collaboration with underserved people. Linda has lived out this value in the classroom, teaching in predominantly non-white Chicago Public Schools. My professional journey began with social work and agenting in the music industry. After a bout with cancer in 2014, I experienced the healing benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Subsequently, I embarked on the process of becoming a TCM practitioner as my main modality of compassionately collaborating with people to improve and maintain health. I'll graduate from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) this month.

When Grainne came to PCOM to tell students about MMW, I knew right away that participating in their mission would be a great opportunity to live out my values and to cultivate a solid foundation of practice. MMW encourages volunteers to practice mindfulness; that is, engaging with patients, peers and periphery purposefully and non-judgmentally. Extending my services to the people of Nepal, where medical needs exceed the availability of care, is a unique opportunity to grow as a practitioner in an environment devoid of professional or financial ambition.

My desire is to carry this experience into the rest of my future practice, and to my family. To that end, Linda and our nine-year-old daughter Eve will join me for the second half of my two-month residency. I am thrilled that the seeds of compassion and mindfulness will be sewn in Eve, and am grateful for MMW's help in exposing her to a broader perspective of humanity and the world.

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Through Mindful Medicine Worldwide, Grainne McKeown has been able to treat patients who responded immediately to acupuncture and Chinese herbs. She treated and healed people for chronic back pain who could then go back to their fields and work. “It was very moving to see the medicine in motion. You go to school for four years and you work in a suburban clinic and patients come in with a thick file, with sometimes ambiguous results. To travel to Nepal and to treat patients who were so highly affected immediately by acupuncture was transformative for me personally and professionally,” she said. “In Nepal, people are often simply deficient and so the acupuncture helps right away.”

MMW Volunteer Alumna, Amy Babb L.Ac., shared this about her experience volunteering with Mindful Medicine Worldwide, “Just knowing you’re giving them a day of relief is very meaningful. So, when they come and say they’ve had a week free of pain or even longer, that they’ve been coming for acupuncture, and it’s been helping them significantly to do their work or live their lives...it has a different feeling to it,” she says. Since many people are working twelve or more hours a day in the fields, MMW’s acupuncture efforts helps them get back to work and living life pain-free. “It has a different feeling to it than a lot of times in the West where we have struggles and suffering of course and there’s a lot of people in pain but there’s so many options and there’s so many comforts in the West. You have a soft bed, you have running water, and here you don’t even have that.” Amy volunteered in Nepal for three months. 

“We created MMW so that the significant financial obstacle of volunteering would not be on the volunteers. We ask them to fundraise in their community for $1,000 and that’s it,” she said. The $1,000 covers the volunteers’ supplies for one month. MMW covers the second month of supplies and housing for volunteers. If volunteers choose to stay for five months, MMW will pay for all their supplies and housing. And the longer you stay, the more healthcare volunteers can bring to people. “Our clinic is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Anyone can come in at any time to get care.”

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On April 25th, 2015, approximately 9,000 people were killed, several thousand injured and more than 600,000 buildings were destroyed in Nepal and neighboring villages. The Nepal earthquake, also known as the Gorkha earthquake, continued with three aftershocks and triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest killing another 21 people. It became one of the deadliest earthquakes in history.
 
Chanuate, Nepal, a small town of approximately 2,500 people, received much devastation. Already an area with extremely limited access to healthcare, the earthquake caused even greater hardship including tearing down one of the area’s most prized acupuncture clinics.
 
In 2008, Grainne McKeown embarked on a journey to Nepal with the intent of taking her skills in acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to a place that really needed it. Having previously studied Buddhism, meditation and Buddhist philosophy in Nepal from 2003-2004, “I said to myself, I want to work here. I want to go back to school for natural medicine and come back and volunteer. So that’s what I did.”
 
It was during her very first year in Kathmandu in 2003, prior to acupuncture school, that Grainne noticed the blend of all medicinal modalities being used in a free clinic. They had the practices of Tibetan, homeopathic, western medicine, Ayurveda and others, before the notion of integrative care had become more mainstream in the US. “I wanted something that was a whole system of medicine that I could get really good at,” she says. So she decided to go back to school for Oriental Medicine in 2005.
 
After graduating from the Seattle Institute for Oriental Medicine for Chinese Medicine, she went back to Nepal to volunteer in that same integrative clinic. Her continued volunteering efforts in Nepal at that time also led her to Bali where she served in a midwifery clinic treating women with prenatal and postpartum acupuncture. She realized the vital importance of caring for women during this special time and how acupuncture could help them deliver naturally and in a comfortable village birthing center, without having to go through a C-section at a hospital.
 
But it was on a yoga retreat with her brother in Thailand, when she realized everything she’d experienced in Nepal--studying Buddhism for a year, coming back to volunteer, discovering the benefits of integrative care with acupuncture, and giving her services to those who needed it--would lead to something far more transformative.
 
“I have all these patients in Nepal and they need care, and I have all these acupuncturist friends in the States who want to do this work. So, I thought, I’m going to start a non-profit,” she said.  Immediately Grainne began writing a mission statement. With the help of her brother who was also living in Nepal, she built a website and it was done in a matter of weeks. “It was just so clear and so obvious to me, and people were interested right away.” And so, Mindful Medicine Worldwide (MMW) was created.

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Excerpts from Rosanna's blog

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Monday, another work week begins. It was a big day. I saw 10 patients this morning, and then another 7 after lunch. Word seems to have gotten out that I’m here doing acupuncture. Patients are feeling better and bringing their friends. And I think the doctors at Shechen now feel confident in my skills because I am getting many more referrals. The hardest part is that I don’t have my own interpreter, and I have to keep finding someone to help me talk to my patients. I have a few cases that are very difficult, but mostly people are doing better. No one is cured, except maybe a patient with shoulder pain, [...] but then she came back with pain in her other elbow. And I treat her for her grief. It’s interesting, I now see where the term ‘widow’s peak’ comes from, as Tibetan women seem to shave a large triangle of hair from their foreheads, I think when their husbands die. But after 17 patients, I’m starving. Off to dinner with Isabelle and Josien.


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47 patient treatments this week. That number now feels very manageable and I can imagine doing more. Some did return, some were new. Things seem steady. I wish I could help them more. I am no longer dead-tired after a workday, which I attribute to daily yoga and meditation practice. And settling in. Think I’m going to try to contact Chapagoan clinic this week (HIV/AIDS). I also met a man, James, who works in the Beggar’s Camp, and I might go practice there perhaps. I’ll find out more tomorrow about his project (quilt-making with/for the poorest of poor) when we travel back to Pharping together to go experience some important lama named Thinle Norbu. Matthew came today, bearing gifts and thanks for helping [a local man] (who is much improved this week, stronger pulse, no more diarrhea or black marks on his tongue, he’s feeling good--transitioned him from Wen Dan Tang to Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang). He told me about ThinleNorbu first, said he’s some superlama uberguru, kind of like the Dalai Lama in importance and just being in his presence is transformative. He recommended I come. Then when James mentioned he was going, it seemed like fate. So, I’m going to check it out, I could use more transformation. I guess it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, although sometimes it seems like those happen every day here.

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Instant success story: [A man] came in yesterday limping with sudden left foot pain if he put all his weight on it. It had started in the morning. It was clearly on the stomach channel, right under the ball of the foot where the toe joined the metatarsals. Stomach pulse was full, but pulse in general was slow. Tongue typical thick white/yellow coat from the diet. Feet felt cold to him. So I needled [him]. Then I did about 50 cones of direct moxa on the bottom of his foot behind the second toe--Japanese point for digestion. Result: No more pain! Yay!

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Organization Information

Mindful Medicine Worldwide

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Grainne McKeown
Chicago, IL United States

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