Uncle Mak

For more then a week I had been dreading to go. Saturday the 16th was supposed to be my last day in the city before moving back to the loft in Williamsburg. I went to the gym. I ran five miles on the treadmill a day before but was determined to push my cardio workout to a new level. The plan for the day was to run another five miles. I had pain in my left knee but thought I would get away with it.

I have to start to accept that I’m not 20 any more. I ran the five miles despite the pain and went out dancing the same night. I have been limping ever since. The following Tuesday I went injured to kung fu training. Again I knew it was not a good idea but I did it anyway.

I spent the last 1 ½ weeks with Arnica Gel, Tiger Balm patches and was sleeping with a pack of ice on my knee every night. Nothing helped. Things seemed to get better but as soon as I had to walk long distances I was back to square one.

I had to do something about it. Last time I had this problem was more then 15 years ago in Germany. I ended up having to have Cortisone injected into my knee to get back to normal.

In kung fu school one name pops up often when people talk about injuries. “Uncle Mak” is regarded as a medical prodigy. There is a story about one guy who had shoulder injuries all his life and all he did was visit the uncle once and he was healed. Everybody I know who has seen him swears on his ability to help.

“Uncle Mak” is a doctor in Chinatown. You can’t call him you just go. My sifu (kung fu father/teacher) gave me detailed instructions how to get there because all signs are in Chinese. To visit such a medical genius must be very expensive? “Uncle Mak’s” rate is $ 20. –.

I had tried all I could to get myself back on track. It was time to go and see him. I took the train down to Chinatown. It was easy to find his place on Mott Street. I rang the buzzer, the door opened; I found the waiting room on the 2nd floor and was enthusiastically welcomed by “Uncle Mak’s” dog. There was already one older Chinese man waiting. I said hi but I don’t think he was speaking any English. I sat down.

The whole setting felt really surreal. There were two big fish tanks a wooden bench, the dog starring at the hallway ready to welcome the next patient and the older Chinese man starring at the wall. “Uncle Mak” was taking care of another patient in the next room while the door was open. It felt like it was the scene in the “Matrix” movie when Neo was waiting to talk to the oracle.

The guy who had been in the works left and the older man was next. A few minuets later it was my turn. “Uncle Mak” is in his mid 50. He smiled at me and said, “Liung Ting Kung Fu? Sifu Alex?” It seems that my kung fu brothers and sisters are the only non-Chinese people who visit him so he figured I must be one of them. He asked me what is wrong and I pointed at my knee. He put something that smelled like alcohol on it, figured out where the exact spot of the pain is located, then twisted my leg in all kinds of directions and massaged it.  He mixed all these herbs together put them on my knee and bandaged it.

The whole thing did not take longer then 10 minuets. Then he shook my hand, told me to leave the bandage on until Thursday night and to say hi to Sifu Alex. I gave him $ 20– and left.

Will it help? I don’t know yet but I believe it will. And if it does it shows that a different approach to helping people is possible then injecting or operating and charging them hundreds or thousands of dollars for it. Stay posted and I will let you know.



“Uncle Mak” Manhattan/New York City/Chinatown/Mott Street/At Uncle Mak’s 08-27-08 at 03:57 PM

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