When I would get sick each year at the start of January, I thought it was due to stress. However, after my first semester at PCOM, I now understand there were many more causes or etiologies that led to my sickness each year. Before I made the decision to change careers into Eastern medicine (EM), I was a CPA in the area of Tax Real Estate. I hoped that this career would bring me the satisfaction and fulfillment I sought in my professional and personal life, but it didn’t. I knew that tax was not what I was meant to do, and as a result, I had a hard time feeling a sense of purpose and accomplishment from my career. Additionally, since I had to spend so much of my time at work, I continually felt like I was not living my life to its fullest—especially during the annual “busy season” of tax, when I worked in excess of 80 hours a week for more than 4 ½ months. The utter absence of work/life balance prevented me from making my own health and well being a priority. The competitive work environment and the values of those around me also took a toll on my emotional and physical health. Now that I have spent a semester studying EM, I understand that the sickness I felt each January resulted from etiologies stemming from my environment and life choices. Below, I explain these etiologies and how they impacted my health history, emotional life, and my decision to change career paths.
Throughout my life, I have always had an aversion to wind and cold. I generally have cold hands and feet, leave the heat on in my apartment, and sleep with a heating blanket. Therefore, it was not surprising that wind and cold played a role in me coming down with the flu each winter in January. EM considers wind and cold two of the six major external etiologies or “excesses/evils” that lead to yin yang imbalance in the body, thus causing disease. According to the five-phase theory (FPT) of EM, wind and cold invasion likely caused the rapid onset and swift change in my health condition each January. They also likely caused the simultaneous fever and chills, floating body aches and congestion in the upper parts of my body, including my head, neck and most significantly my lungs. Since EM considers the lungs the most fragile zang organ in the body, and the organ that regulates defensive “Wei” qi, it makes sense that wind and cold evil impacted my lungs the most. Furthermore, FPT associates wind with the liver which regulates the free coursing of qi, and associates cold with the kidneys which underscores each zang-fu’s yin and yang balance in the body. Thus, when wind and cold invade the body, the liver and kidney can become imbalanced leading to some of the various signs and symptoms I experienced during this time.