"B- B- But... H- How...!" Dr. Zhong sputtered.
Zhou Qin took several tentative steps forward, stopping a few feet away from the bed.
"My God, Qinqin..." Uncle Zhou said breathlessly. "You… You're walking... You're actually walking!"
Li Yundong stepped closer with his arms extended just in case Zhou Qin fell.
"How do they feel?" Li Yundong asked.
"As good as new!" Zhou Qin beamed at him. "See?" She began taking larger steps around the room.
"T- That's impossible!" Dr. Zhong exclaimed, glancing at his colleague. "That's just..." He pointed a shaky finger at Zhou Qin. "That's just not possible!"
Li Yundong turned and gave Dr. Zhong a smile. "Evidence, doctor." He tilted his head towards Zhou Qin, who was now attempting to stand on one leg. "Isn't that what science is all about? You base your judgement on the evidence?"
"No." Dr. Zhong shook his head desperately. "There has to be some other explanation for this! I examined at her X-rays a few days ago, for crying out loud!"
Li Yundong sniggered inwardly. Yeah. And I bet her X-rays will look totally different now if you take them again. The X-ray is just a tool after all. If the Jindan's Aura really did heal her spine, the results would show on her X-rays as well.
"Ah! I know!" Dr. Zhong clapped his hands together and turned his head sharply towards his colleague. "You must have shown me the wrong X-rays!"
Dr. Zhong's colleague froze, blinking a few times. "I… definitely..." Then, a look of recognition flashed across the man's face and he began nodding fervently. "Pfft! Right? I must have given you the wrong ones, Dr. Zhong! I must have!" The man gestured at Zhou Qin. "There's no way a person with those X-rays can be walking around like this."
Li Yundong frowned when Zhou Qin suddenly stopped walking. Before he could rush to her side and ask her what was wrong, Zhou Qin began storming towards the two doctors like a woman on a mission. Two seconds later, Zhou Qin was standing in front of the two middle-aged doctors.
And she looked totally pissed off.
"Didn't you say that it would take longer than two years for me to make a full recovery?" Zhou Qin's words were clearly meant for both doctors, though her gaze was fixed on Dr. Zhong. "How about it, hmm? Ready to eat your words now?"
Dr. Zhong's mouth opened, but Zhou Qin didn't give him the chance to speak.
"Well, guess what? It only took a few days for Li Yundong to cure me," Zhou Qin said sharply. "And he has done so with Traditional Chinese Medicine, the same discipline that you have mocked and dismissed as mere quackery!"
Li Yundong shot Zhou Qin an awkward look.
Technically, that wasn't the complete truth. He did design his treatment strategy based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, but the Jindan's Aura and his mastery of Qi control still did the bulk of the work. His treatment plan wouldn't have produced such miraculous results if it involved acupuncture alone.
Li Yundong glanced at the two doctors.
Nope. Those assholes didn't have to know that. Let them suffer a bit.
"I've been dying to say this for days," Zhou Qin continued her rant, pausing to glare at Dr. Zhong. "You call yourself a doctor, but I doubt you're here to do your job." She let out a humorless chuckle. "Why don't you tell me who's the real charlatan here?"
Dr. Zhong flinched and suddenly glanced at the door.
"Do you think I'm blind?" Zhou Qin sneered. "You didn't think I would notice the way you were looking at me with those lewd eyes?" Zhou Qin pointed an accusatory finger at Dr. Zhong. "You're nothing but a sex predator masquerading as a doctor!"
Dr. Zhong paled. "H- How dare you make such baseless accusations—"
Zhou Qin sneered. "I bet you managed to get away with it every time." Another humorless chuckle. "I'm pretty sure your patients kept coming back in spite of what you did." There was a pause. "Your patients, or should I say your victims, kept coming back because they had no other choice! You were their only hope for recovery. That's why they kept their mouths shut and kept coming back." Zhou Qin was on a roll. "You are the one who's been preying on your patients' need to get better! You are the charlatan here!"
"T- This is libel! You mark my words, young lady. I shall have you sued for—"
"Libel?" Zhou Qin snickered. "Fine. Guess I'll see you in court, then. Let's see if your word can measure up to the testimonies of the dozens of young women whom you treated in the past, or those of the nurses and the medical staff in this hospital."
Dr. Zhong glanced at his colleague, who appeared to have taken a sudden interest in the room's flooring.
"Ugh! This is absurd!" Dr. Zhong turned around and stormed towards the door.
"And submit your resignation while you're at it," Zhou Qin yelled after Dr. Zhong. "You'll be doing society a favor by ridding other young women of the pain and humiliation caused by your obscenity."
The door creaked open.
"And stop playing around with women!" Zhou Qin yelled. "Or risk dropping dead due to Renal Yin Deficiency!" Then, she dropped her voice into a low mumble. "On second thought, it might be better if you drop dead."
The door closed with a loud bang, startling Dr. Zhong's colleague out of his scrutiny of the floor. The man stared at the closed door for a few seconds, then hurried after Dr. Zhong when he noticed Zhou Qin's glare.
As soon as the second doctor was out of the room, a shriek sounded from another corner of the room.
"Zhou Qin! You're on your feet!"
For some reason, Zhou Qin's scowl vanished as soon as that voice sounded.
"Madam Xu!" Zhou Qin said, her face lighting up in joy.
Having followed Zhou Qin's gaze, Li Yundong saw an old lady standing at the connecting door near Zhou Qin's bed.
"Good Lord!" Madam Xu exclaimed. "You're standing!"
Zhou Qin strode towards the old lady. "Both my legs are healed, Madam Xu!" Zhou Qin stopped in front of the lady and did a full turn on the same spot. "See? They're totally fine now."
"Oh, what great news!" Madam Xu clapped her hands together and looked towards Uncle Zhou.
"I know," Zhou Qin said elatedly.
From the corner of his eyes, Li Yundong saw Uncle Zhou slowly lowering himself into a chair. The man appeared to be still in shock.
"But... how is this possible?" Madam Xu inquired. "I thought the doctors said..."
Zhou Qin shook her head. "The doctors didn't make this happen, Madam Xu." Zhou Qin gestured at her legs.
"T- Then who did?" Madam Xu asked.
The next thing he knew, Zhou Qin's finger was pointed straight at him. "He did."
Madam Xu turned her head sharply. Li Yundong gave the old lady a polite smile.
"He looks young, right?" Zhou Qin added seconds later.
"Oh, he does," Madam Xu answered without taking her eyes off him.
"Mm-hmm..." Zhou Qin said. "But don't be fooled by his appearance." Zhou Qin glanced at him briefly. "He's actually a rare talent."
"Zhou Qin..." Li Yundong said in a warning tone. "Stop exaggerating. I'm just... Whoa! Ma'am! What are you—"
Madam Xu suddenly dropped to her knees and hugged Li Yundong's legs.
Li Yundong shot Zhou Qin a panicked look.
Zhou Qin seemed quite stunned as well.
"Oh, master healer! Would you please cure an old woman of her many ailments?"
Li Yundong bent down and tried to pull Madam Xu to her feet. Alas, his efforts were futile; the woman refused to stand up, and Li Yundong didn't want to resort to force lest he accidentally hurt the frail-looking woman.
"Please get up, Ma'am," Li Yundong said in a helpless tone. "This isn't necessary. I haven't done anything to deserve your—"
"Nonsense," Madam Xu said, hugging his legs tighter. "You helped Zhou Qin stand up again. That's a miracle in and of itself!"
Li Yundong shot Zhou Qin yet another pleading look, which, much to his distress, went utterly unheeded.
Li Yundong sighed and nudged Madam Xu's arm gently. "Please, stand up, Ma'am..."
Madam Xu tightened her arms around Li Yundong's legs. "I'll stand up only if you agree to take a look at me!"
Li Yundong sighed in resignation. "Alright, alright. Fine. I'll take a look at you. But please, get up first, okay?" Li Yundong reached down once more.
This time, the old lady relented and allowed herself to be pulled to her feet. Thank f*ck.
Once the old lady was on her feet, Li Yundong took stock of her appearance: short and petite; thin and frail; dressed in some kind of blue traditional gown and a pair of cloth shoes.
"Um... Where should I sit?" Madam Xu asked tentatively.
"Here. You can use this."
Li Yundong turned around in surprise and saw Uncle Zhou rising from the chair he'd been sitting on.
Madam Xu thanked Uncle Zhou after the man carried the chair over and placed it behind her. While helping Madam Xu into the chair, Li Yundong could feel Uncle Zhou's curious gaze on him.
Once Madam Xu was comfortably seated in the chair, Li Yundong took the woman's wrist and began a pulse diagnosis.
About a minute later, Li Yundong released her wrist.
"So?" Madam Xu asked. "Will I live?"
Li Yundong smiled. "Just a sec, okay?" He went around to stand behind the chair. "Is it okay if I touch your head?"
After receiving a nod from Madam Xu, Li Yundong placed his palm over the top of her head and performed Neiguan to observe the state of her Five Zangs. Her Kidney and Spleen seemed much weaker than the rest of her five Zangs, which was rather alarming since her Zangs were already weak to begin with due to old age. Her Liver looked pretty bad as well, though not as bad as her Kidney. Li Yundong closed his eyes and moved his Qi around her body through her meridians. After several circuits, Li Yundong discerned several oddities in several of Madam Xu's joints. Something seemed odd with her left forearm, as well, though Li Yundong quickly attributed that to a past injury.
Li Yundong removed his hand from the top of Madam Xu's head and stepped around the chair so that he was standing in front of Madam Xu.
"What is your diagnosis?" asked Madam Xu in an anxious tone.
Li Yundong held his chin as he sorted out his thoughts. Seconds later, he glanced at the old woman. "May I confirm a few things with you?" Li Yundong said.
Madam Xu nodded.
Li Yundong took a step closer to the chair. "You have been experiencing frequent bouts of fatigue throughout the day recently, I presume?"
"That's…" Madam Xu's eyes widened slightly. "That's right."
"Your knees, ankles, and elbow joints start to hurt during cold days?"
Madam Xu nodded desperately.
"You broke your left forearm before when you were younger," Li Yundong said.
"You brat!" Madam Xu slapped her thigh loudly. "You're spot on in everything you said!" All of a sudden, Madam Xu's slapped her hand over her mouth and gave him a sheepish look. "Oops. Forgive my rudeness, young man. I didn't mean to call you a brat..."
Li Yundong smiled. "That's fine, Ma'am. And you've been suffering from diarrhea for the past few days?"
Madam Xu's mouth dropped open. She looked towards Uncle Zhou before allowing her gaze settle on Zhou Qin.
"Y- You haven't told me anything about me, have you?"
Zhou Qin shook her head.
Li Yundong chuckled. "No. Neither of them told me anything."
Madam Xu shook her head in disbelief. "Then how on earth did you guess all that?"
Li Yundong smiled. "The bouts of fatigue you've been experiencing are due to weak Kidneys, Ma'am."
"Weak Kidneys!" Madam Xu exclaimed.
"Yes, Ma'am." Li Yundong nodded gravely. "Your kidneys are suffering from severe Qi deficiency, I'm afraid."
Madam Xu's eyes widened in alarm.
"A- Am I going to die?" asked the old woman in a small voice. "Is it my time already?"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa… Calm down." Li Yundong chuckled and raised a palm. "I never said anything about dying. The weakening of your Kidneys is simply part of the natural process of aging."
Li Yundong gave her a reassuring smile. "In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there's this concept called the Six Excesses, or the Six Pathogenic Factors." He paused to look at Madam Xu. "Have you heard of it?"
The old lady shook her head.
Li Yundong raised his finger. "Traditional Chinese Medicine proposed that the human body is governed by seventeen Functional Entities—Qi, blood, body fluids, Essence, Spirit, the 5 Zangs, the 6 Fus, and also the meridians. Together, these Functional Entities perform what we call the Five Cardinal Functions of the human body—Actuation, Warming, Defense, Containment, and Transportation. Illness, therefore, occurred as a result of the disruption of the Five Cardinal Functions. And the Five Cardinals only get disrupted when the Functional Entities are in a state of disharmony. The Six Excesses basically refers to the six distinct types of disharmony that can occur to our Functional Entities." Li Yundong looked towards Madam Xu, who appeared to be listening to him with rapt attention. "The aches you've been experiencing in your knee, ankle, and elbow joints are caused by the accumulation of Dampness over a long period of time. And yes, Dampness is one of the Six Excesses. Note that I used the term accumulation. The reason for that is because Dampness is a distinct entity, not just some abstract property. In more precise terms, Dampness is a type of Qi that can enter your system from the external environment. See? Dampness is a kind of stuff that can be obtained externally and then accumulated inside the body. Usually, Dampness accumulates in the joints and meridians after it enters the body. Oh, and it also accumulates in sites of injury like open wounds, broken bones， and such." Li Yundong smiled at Madam Xu. "For your case, I know it's your left forearm. You fractured it before, didn't you?"
"B- But how could you possibly tell!" Madam Xu spluttered. "That was so long ago!"
Both Uncle Zhou and Zhou Qin were staring at him curiously right then.
"When I put my hand over your head just now," Li Yundong said, "I was actually performing a Qi-control technique called Neiguan. It allows me to sense the different types of Qis inside your body, including those of your Zangs and Fus."
Li Yundong nodded. "There is heavy accumulation of Dampness Qi in the joints I mentioned earlier. But on your left forearm, the distributed pattern forms a narrow strip." Li Yundong smiled, then shrugged. "So I deduced that the accumulation had been caused by some kind of bone fracture."
"Amazing..." Uncle Zhou whispered.
"Wait..." Madam Xu slapped her thigh again. "What about the diarrhea? How could you possibly know about that?"
Li Yundong chuckled. "Neiguan again, of course. I could sense the state of your Zangs, remember? Your Kidney is the weakest. But your Spleen is pretty bad too." He shot Madam Xu a sympathetic look. "Both your Kidney and Spleen are suffering from severe Qi deficiency."
"And that's causing the diarrhea?"
"Why, of course, Ma'am," said Li Yundong. "Your Spleen is like your body's manager, you see. It handles the transportation of nutrients and..." Li Yundong waved his hand. "Anyway. I digressed. The diarrhea is due to your Spleen's exposure to Wind, which is another one of the Six Excesses." Li Yundong gestured at the old woman's attire. "I recommend wearing thicker clothes, Ma'am. It's nearing autumn now. Exposure to the cold wind will only worsen your condition."
Silence permeated the room.
Seconds later, Madam Xu gave him a huge thumbs up. "Wow. You really are something else, young man."
"Nah." Li Yundong shrugged. "I didn't come up with all that stuff anyway." He chuckled. "I just read about it, that's all."
"Oh, look at him." Madam Xu chuckled. "So humble."
Li Yundong cleared his throat. "Madam Xu... If I may ask..." He shot the old woman a serious look. "Are you, by any chance, hospitalized because of cerebrovascular disease? Or hypertension?"
Madam Xu pulled back in surprise.
Li Yundong laughed. "Don't look so surprised, Ma'am. People don't usually get hospitalized because of diarrhea and rheumatic diseases. So I know that you're here for something much more serious than what I just listed."
After a moment of silence, Madam Xu sighed. "I had a mild stroke a week ago. It was caused by hypertension."
"I see," Li Yundong said.
Madam Xu shot him a curious look. "But how did you figure it out?"
Li Yundong smiled. "First of all, hypertension is quite a common problem in people of your age."
Madam Xu chuckled. "That's true, I suppose."
"But the cerebrovascular disease is more like an educated guess." Li Yundong looked towards Madam Xu. "I didn't know for sure."
Madam Xu laughed. "Could've fooled me though."
"The Kidney and the Liver are dependent on each other for optimal function," Li Yundong continued. "Since your Kidneys are in a poor state of health, your Liver health is likely affected as well." Li Yundong paused to give Madam Xu a pointed look. "Even more so considering your age." Li Yundong waved a hand. "Anyway. In your case, compromised Liver health leads to hyperactivity of fire due to yin deficiency. What that basically means is that you'll have a higher tendency to get angry. But here's another problem. People at your age shouldn't be getting angry at all, since your meridians aren't as healthy as they used to be. Getting angry can easily lead to hypertension and, with hypertension, comes cerebrovascular diseases."
Madam Xu shot Li Yundong a hopeful look. "Then... Do you know of a way to make it all go away?"
Li Yundong shoved his right hand into his pocket and secretly activated the Jindan Aura.
"Of course, Ma'am," he said and positioned himself behind Madam Xu's chair. "What do you say I give you a head massage?"