comments iconDay 41 & 42: Repairs and renewal ahead of final leg to Edinburgh


Total walk:  599.40  miles

Today raised:  £ 10,685.00  +  ¥ 7,526.00

Total raised: £ 22,884.09 + ¥  104,790.66

We had planned to try and combine our one day a week rest day into two days to catch up on work and prepare for the final few days of the walk from Motherwell to Edinburgh. With Xuelin’s precision forward planning we managed to land in the Holiday Inn Express for two days for that purpose.

I have perhaps touched on this before, but if not then I should say it, that rest days mean ‘non-walking days’ but they are amongst the busiest days we have. Xuelin has a business to run and I have a mountain of emails from the House of Lords and the Department of International Development to keep on top of. After most ‘rest days’ I am looking forward to getting back out on the road to walk 20 miles for a rest.

Following our welcome dinner and invitation for a consultation on my aches and pains by Dr Michael Mei and Lin Yue of the Oriental Herbs Clinic we arranged an appointment in the busy practice for 4PM. I confess I rarely visit the doctors–my last time was certainly over five years ago. Anyway because of the persistent pain down my right hand side I was up for anything, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, that might offer a slightly longer solution that the Ibuprofen tablets I always carry with me.

Dr Mei is a fourth generation Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner and I was struck by how comfortable he was in explaining where it could help and where it couldn’t. It is the nature of when someone discovers something that has had a miraculous effect on them, a diet, a therapy, a religion that they become over-enthusiastic with their claims about what effect it can have on others.

Dr Mei had been raised with TCM and saw it as something that was complimentary to Western medicine in very specific areas. He had been intrigued by my case because he felt that the pain I was experiencing running down my right-hand side from shoulder, wrist, fingers, hip, knee, ankle and toes were all connected. Dr Mei showed me a model human figure with various points on it used  for Accupuncture and I saw immediately how the dots were connected.

After the consultation Dr Mei asked if I would be willing to undergo some treatment for thirty minutes which he thought might help. I was shown into a side room and told to lie on the bed. Fortunately Xuelin was with me and was able to prepare them for the fact that I am incredibly ticklish and would be likely to scream if a needle came anywhere near me.

I lay on my side and the needles went in in a way in which I hardly noticed. First around the right shoulder and then my right hand, hip, ankle and foot. My hip was particularly painful and Dr Mei felt that this was the centre of the problem which was then impacting everywhere lese.

Then the needles were connected to a low voltage electrical circuit, this I could feel as it caused my joints to twitch. Dr Mei reduced the voltage slightly to the point where it just gently pulsed and then left me. In a few minutes I had drifted off to a deep sleep and was woken by the door opening thirty minutes later and Dr Mei beginning to disconnect the electricity and then remove the needles.

Next there were jars which cause suction on the skin called cupping therapy placed where the needles had been. It took incredible skill as a small flame was flicked under the jar briefly to burn the oxygen and create the vacuum causing it to stick to the skin. This was only for a couple of minutes before Lin Yue came in with a warm thermal fabric bag containing selected hers and salt which was then placed on the treated areas. This was absolute bliss.

As soon as I got off the massage table to put my socks and shoes on I realised that the pain which had been almost constant whether I was walking or not had gone. I assumed that this was probably to do with that magic thermal bag so didn’t want to over claim a cure, but I certainly felt relief from the pain better then through popping Ibuprofen tablets.

So here I am writing almost 24 hours later and I would say that whilst I can still feel pain on my hip if I press on it, I do not feel it when I walk which I did before. I had a much better nights sleep because I was not constantly trying to change position to avoid painful pressure points. When I walk I notice the pain more in my ankle than I did before but I don’t feel pain in my shoulder, wrist, fingers or knee.

So what does that say? Well first and foremost it says that Dr Mei is very skilled at what he does. Second, it shows that it has brought about a longer lasting relief than painkiller tablets. Will the effect wear off? I don’t know. Do I feel much better and able to move more freely today? Yes. Did I expect that to be the outcome of my first TCM treatment? No. Am I grateful? Yes, very much.