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NH Chapter 4

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Chapter 4 – Mirror Box Therapy 

The shattered neon lights flickered dimly as the rain dropped on the damp, wet corner of the alley.

Those female mercenaries either stood by the door of the store or smoked against the alley wall. The splashing rain could not dispel the smoke from the cigarettes in their hands. The cigarette butts and sparks fell on the piles of rubbish that had not been cleaned up for many days. The stray cat who had been hiding in the rubbish pile jumped past.

“My right hand, bring it here! “

Lorna urged her subordinates at the door again, and when she looked back and saw that Fan Debao hadn’t gone to get the wine, she also urged:

“What are you doing, bring the wine! Worried that I will owe a debt? Sis just did a big deal, money is no issue~~

Soon, Gu He saw a group of female mercenaries lifting one grotesque hand as they entered the izakaya.

It’s a hand, complete from arm to finger, but…

It was a few sizes bigger than Captain Lorna’s left hand and bigger than the muscular men’s hands of Zhuang Ge. The hand was covered with layers of burn scars, decorated with veins pulsating like a heartbeat. Bloodstains were dripping down on the fingers with no visible wounds as if it was just stabbed deep down someone’s heart.

“Uh…” Gu He to keep his countenance calm and professional, forced himself to ignore the stench of blood that was getting closer and closer.

What kind of prosthesis is this? He didn’t know what material it was for a moment, with some looking metallic; other parts with visible arteries peeking out whilst surrounded by moulded flesh from who knows god what.

The female mercenaries that were carrying the prosthetic hand were gasping for air as their face turned red, was it that heavy?

Captain Lorna took off the black leather jacket, inside a sleeveless white T-shirt,  and turned her empty right shoulder towards the prosthetic hand.

Suddenly, wirelike blood lines shot out of her right shoulder; the prosthesis hand too shot out “bloodwires”.  Like a tangle of tentacles dancing and tying together, both sides came together.

Before Gu He could see clearly, the enormous bloodied hand was affixed to her right shoulder as though it always belonged there.

“Hmm.” Captain Lorna turned her right shoulder and twisted the prosthesis twice, the joints made a crackling sound.  With her right hand, she nimbly grabbed a bottle of old Fenggu wine that Fan Debao had just taken out of the wine cabinet, easily opened the cork cap and drank almost half the bottle in one gulp.

“30 Year Old Fenggu, good shit!”

She then filled a wine glass that was empty and handed it to Gu He. “Kid, drink up.”

In the process of pouring the wine, a few drops of the wet blood on her right hand fell into the wine glass. Gu He’s professional smile can’t hold anymore. Once it collapses, he doesn’t know if his facial features will be distorted…

 “Huh.” Fan Debao was silently observing him. What did I just say? Now, you know how to be afraid? Too late. Lao Fan thought that since the situation might turn unpleasant eventually, it was best to settle the account first.

“Captain Lorna, I think you should pay in advance..”

“What’s the hurry? Who dares to cheat you, Old man?” Captain Lorna waved his hand impatiently,

“Boy, what did you ask me just now?”

Gu He’s head spun once again as he stared at her prosthetic hand up close; the longer he looked, the stranger his heartbeats became.

The whirlpool of light in his mind was ineffective. A  bizarre and mysterious phantasm flashed before his eyes as if he were being struck and torn apart by a power.

Lao Fan’s glass of wine to test his talent is really strong…

“Why don’t you speak?” There was a hint of madness in Captain Lorna’s eyes, just waiting for him to scream.

Fan Debao quietly picked up the precious wine utensils on the bar, preparing for the worst-case scenario where Gu He gets splattered.

“I mean…” Gu He tried to calm down, and be professional, she’s just like any other client with disabilities…  Thinking back to Zhuang Ge’s weird head, I can already tell that some medical and biological technologies in this world are particularly developed.

Earth also studies the field of bionic prosthetics, neural control, intelligent sensing, and implantable osseointegration. These technologies are evolving with each passing day, but they are not as advanced and uncanny as her right hand.

 “What’s your dream life like?” he asked gently, don’t panic, the patient is also an ordinary person.

Captain Lorna took another sip of wine, she didn’t expect the new cowherd to be able to stay calm, “I don’t have any bullshit dreams, I’m almost annoyed to death by this hand, do I look like I still dream?”

 Gu He smiled in his heart, here it comes!

Problems.

The foundation of psychotherapy is problems. The therapist can take action once the patient opens up about their issue. There is no need for treatment if there is no problem.

“What’s the matter?” he seemed to ask casually.

“I just can’t figure it out.” Captain Lorna lowered her head and drank the suffocating wine, and said, “This thing has always been incompatible with linking up. It feels like a virus has invaded my program, making my personality very unstable.”

Fan Debao, who was still cleaning up the wine utensils, inserted a sentence: “Captain Lorna, you should go to the doctor, not the cowherd.”

Gu He analysed it in his heart. Although she expressed it kinda vaguely, he understood it.

“Does it hurt from time to time? And does the original right hand seem to be in pain? There may occasionally be some congruent hallucinations? “

Captain Lorna turned her head at him,  “How did you know?”

Fan Debao’s fat face was expressing doubts. 

“Because you haven’t been wearing a prosthesis all the time.” Of course Gu He knew, her problem was clearly “phantom limb pain”.

More than 50% of amputees have this symptom, and the pathology is still unclear, which is still a medical problem. I didn’t expect it to be like this in this world.

Who doesn’t want to be healthy?

Having lost a hand, becoming crippled, and being forced to link with this grotesque right hand, which will cause people to glance over. How much stress will this put on her mind? Patients frequently experience psychological trauma, which can make their discomfort from phantom limbs worse.

At this point, a psychiatrist needs to intervene.

He has previously interacted with such patients and is knowledgeable about cutting-edge, extremely efficient therapy for phantom limb pain relief.

“I have a method of healing.” Gu He said and looked around, “Is there a mirror here?”

Is he reliable? Although everyone didn’t think it would be of any use, Captain Lorna wanted to play, so she urged Fan Debao and a few female subordinates to find a mirror and an uncovered wooden box according to Gu He’s wishes.

First, two holes were made on one side of the wooden box, and then the mirror was inserted into the middle of the wooden box and divided into two halves, with one hole on each side.

Under Gu He’s instructions, Captain Lorna’s palms stretched into the wooden box from the openings on both sides. He then covers Lorna’s right hand completely with another piece of cloth, exposing only the left side of the wooden box. As such with her left hand being in this position as well as the mirror reflection, it appears that her right hand is also intact and undamaged.

“Follow my voice, move your left hand slowly, make a fist, and relax…”

Gu He continued to instruct, this is called mirror box therapy.(1)

It induces the coupling of somatosensory and motor pathways between phantom limbs, prosthetic limbs and real limbs, thereby regulating the sensory nerves in the brain.

“That’s it?” Captain Lorna stopped and didn’t cooperate, with a look of suspicion and disdain on her face, 

Several female mercenaries around the bar also shook their heads and laughed.

I should have known better; after seeing so many street prosthetic physicians who couldn’t fix the problem, how could this kid? Lorna sighed.

Fan Debao had even more reason to suspect him because the young man is a terrible bullshitter.

“Try it.” Gu He persuaded, raising his hand repeatedly to clench and release his fist.

Many people look down on simple and cheap mirror box therapy at first, but they will always be shocked afterwards.

“Don’t need money anyway,” he added.

As far as he knows, the phrase “don’t need money anyway” has a particularly persuasive power to the majority of patients.

“I’ll give it a try.” Captain Lorna hummed, looking into the mirror box, her left hand slowly clenched and released her fist…

Her expression gradually changed, a little surprised. (*゚ロ゚)

  1. Further readings https://www.physio-pedia.com/Mirror_Therapy
  2. Side note: Early chapters are mostly world building .3. I will try to increase my pace till the interesting parts ୧(ಠ⌣ಠ)୨.

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