Day 36 [Albany] My Coldest Summer

I ARRIVED ALBANY YESTERDAY NIGHT. My homestay aunt’s daughter’s friend, Chris, is studying in Albany and he gave me a ride here (which I appreciate a lot). Thanks to him, me and my luggages arrive at the apartment where I will be staying for the next two weeks without the fuss carrying it all over town in search of a cab.

My two weeks here will be spent observing with Dr. Ron Stram at his Center of Integrative Health and Healing. He and few other colleagues practice the integration of conventional medicine (which is drugs, surgery and etc) and also complementary alternative medicine (herbals, acupuncture, meditation and etc). I was hoping to get into one of the integrative medicine academic research centers but could not. So, I decided to contact private practitioners for the sake of getting a hang of what is this all about (which I would definitely elaborate more in my following entries).

Here in Albany, things are not the same as in New York City. Although being the capital of New York State, its infrastructure, architecture, people and plants are nothing similar to its downstate sister metropolis. One thing I noticed right when I arrive is the weather. I felt chilly last night, and was wondering if it was a bad omen because I needed two blankets for sleep.

THIS MORNING, I walked a great deal, wasted some bus fares, all because the bus system in Albany is not that convenient. But alas, I arrived in one piece at the center, and the weather was great, sunny and breezy. But suddenly, just around 10am, a storm came in and changed everything. It rained the whole day, and the temperature dropped instantly, to a lowest of 13 degrees Celcius.

After finishing my first day at the center, I tried to leave but it was raining so hard and I did not have an umbrella, I decided to wait at a porch near the bus stop, and run to the stop as soon as the bus comes. The bus did come, and I ran as fast as I could in the rain, but I was so surprised that it turned into another street and left. I was stunned, I was wet and I was disappointed. I looked at the schedule and found that the bus alters its path according to schedule. Angry but still confident, I ran across to the other street and waited for the next bus. Twenty minutes went by and the next bus came. I was so excited, I ran into the rain again. But. This time, the bus turned into the street where I waited the first time and left.

Missing the bus twice, graciously soaking wet and without an umbrella, I decided to go find an umbrella and wait for the bus at the stop that ALL the bus on the schedule will stop. I walked in the rain in search of a shop where I can buy an umbrella, but even after a mile, dripping wet in 15 degrees Celcius, there is none to be seen. I thought of hitchhiking a ride, but a car went by fast and splashed a puddle of water on my feet. Sad, cold and discouraged, I finally found myself an umbrella and after a total of one and a half hour waiting, I got on a bus and headed back home.

I AM BETTER NOW WITH AN UMBRELLA, but I still had to walk a mile back to the apartment from the bus stop. I remember entering the apartment soaking wet, I removed all my soiled clothes and regardless of my pledge to save water, I dived into the hot tub and rested in it for a good 30 minutes. Tired and feeling a bit sick, I went to bed at 9pm, with two blankets on me. I don’t really know Albany much yet, but I do know now that its buses and weather can be very frustrating.

*** CAM of the day ***

From today onwards, I will introduce something I learned from the center everyday. It can be a herb, a pressure point or anything related to CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine). I hope you like it as much as I do.

Gymnema (Gynema sylvestre)
This herb is used for many centuries in Sanskrit India as a treatment for diabetes. But, what I learned today from Dr. Stram is that it can also help curb our sweet cravings, especially during the mid-afternoon low sugar state. Other than modulating our insulin levels, 10 drops of this herbal tincture can make sugar taste like sand. We tried it ourselves today, and I really am surprised that sugar indeed taste different immediately after drinking the herb. It will make you avoid sugary treats because they won’t taste sweet anymore. Dr. Stram says he takes it daily during the afternoons just to prevent having the mid-afternoon fatigue.

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