by Dieu Chinh Toi
Like other patients at the Traditional Medicine Hospital of Son La Province, Quang Van Chung said he is happy to receive acupuncture treatment from physician Vu Thi Chu.
“I especially like Chu applying acupuncture and caring for me whenever being treated at the Traditional Medicine Hospital. She attentively asks questions and talks with us, and her hands are so skillful we do not feel pain,” said Chung, who came from Na Hoc Village of Thuan Chau District, talking about acupunturist Vu Thi Chu of the Faculty of Acupuncture.
Chu, herself, suffered from a physical problem since she was a small child. This also related to a superstitious legend.
“Curse” of the ancient tree
The Mong village elders in Pa Cha Village, Co Ma Commune, said in the past that the village in Thuan Chau District was surrounded by a forest of big trees hundreds of years old.
Every year, when the spring came and peach flowers blossomed and spread their fragrance, the Mong residents prepared food and brought to an ancient tree near the village to pray for the health of the community.
This ritual was called the “Worshipping ceremony for the Spirit of the Forest.” Villagers believed that the “Forest Spirit” would protect them, bringing them peace and health, as well as provide rice and corn.
They also believed that there was a “curse” passed down from ancient times, believing if anyone destroyed the sacred forest they would be punished and their children would be born crippled.
One day, people were careless when burning shrubbery to clear land for farming and fire spread to the sacred forest, also destroying the “sacred tree” that was their annual worshipping.
Villagers said they did not know if the curse had come or not, but some adults suffered from goitre, some children were born with defects, and many couples left the village to escape the disaster.
Among the disabled children was Chu, whose legs were paralysed after she got polio.
Looking at their three-year-old daughter who could not walk, at first her parents were scared, thinking that their family was being punished by Heaven because of the curse from the burning of the “sacred forest”.
Those days, few Mong girls in the mountainous Co Ma Commune could go to school.
Chu was a little girl and she often stood beside her door to watch other children go to school, then she asked her parents to let her attend class.
As her parents loved her, and knowing that when he grows up, Chu will not be able to do farming work, they agreed to bring their daughter to class.
Initially, the classroom was located in the village, though it later moved to the commune centre.
Chu had to walk greater distances using crutches after the class was moved. She was not discouraged, she recalled, though she had to walk down a long trail, crossing a ridge to go to school.
Later Chu joined the Ethnic Boarding School of Thuan Chau District, where she graduated from high school, overcoming her disability and poor economic conditions.
Today, her family is proud of her, for overcoming her personal difficulties, to become the lady physician and expert of acupuncture in Son La City.
“My parents and teachers gave me education, and my grandmother gave me the dream to become a medical professional,” Chu said.
“Every time my grandmother felt tired or hurt, I massaged her hands, feet and back. During those times, my grandmother told me that my hands were soft, and massaging felt very pleasant. She said if I would become a nurse to care for the sick, that would be very good,” recalled Chu.
With her grandmother’s encouragement, after finishing high school Chu registered and passed an exam to join the Traditional Medicine Academy of Viet Nam in Ha Noi.
After graduation in 2006, she was offered a job at the Acupuncture Department of the Traditional Medicine Hospital of Son La Province.
With love for her job, passion to learn, a heart to share with others and soft hands to care for patients, Chu helped ease fatigue and pain for her patients, to help them overcome their medical problems.
Dr Pham Thi Xuan, Dean of the Acupuncture Department of the Son La Province’s Traditional Medicine Hospital, said: “Physician Vu Thi Chu has extraordinary courage, as she has overcome disabilities to fulfill her assigned tasks.
“She does not mind the hardships to work on the night shift, along with her colleagues. Other colleagues always believe and love her, being a good example for the motto, ‘A good doctor is like an affectionate mother’,” Xuan said.
Chu said she feels her patients’ pain, as if it is her own pain.
“I, myself, have understood the pain of my feet, but I still have my hands to take care and encourage patients, helping them rise up and overcome the pain of disease, and to be patient during treatment,” she said. — VNS