What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Unfortunately it's the normal mid-winter get-a-cold time for me, during the current anything-but-normal East Coast cold wave. Most alarming news story of the week: this NYT column saying that rising global temperatures will lead to more severe and colder winters on the US East Coast! I was already concerned about climate change, but now...   As I shiver, I have laryngitis, coughing all night, and various other symptoms, many involving that least-lovely word in the English language, phlegm.

But thanks to some good friends* from China, relief is at hand -- in the form of products from the Tianjin Medicines and Health Products Company. Chinese traditional medicine is strong on relatively small dosages taken in relatively large quantities. So I am supposed to take four of the pills below, twice a day, till cured.


During our years in Malaysia in the 1980s, and more recently and China, my wife and I became unlikely converts to a lot of Asian medical practices. I had serious back pain cured by an acupuncturist (who used needles the size of aluminum baseball bats) in Kuala Lumpur. In her book, my wife describes how the gruesome-seeming therapy of fire-cupping, applied in an all-night massage parlor in the city of Yueyang, snapped her out of a serious bout of the flu. Sure, she had big red welts on her back for the next ten days, but her fever was gone!

So, why not take the pills. And I feel all the more consoled on checking the fine print ingredients list: honeysuckle, forsythia, burdock, and so on. I'm sure it's all safe, including the balloomflower, and it's not as if "normal" medicine is doing me any good.


* These are American friends, the China scholars John Flower and Pam Leonard, whose research in Sichuan province I describe in my previous book. They're the ones to go looking for, or else the QC team at Tianjin Medicines, should I never be heard from again.