Q&A with Dr. Abraham Choi: Satisfaction in pain management

Dr. Abraham Choi was born in South Korea right after the Korean War, spending most of his early life in the country before he came to the United States in 1979. He has a master’s degree in theology, master of divinity degree from Michigan and Ph.D. in acupuncture and oriental medicine from California.

He practiced as a licensed acupuncturist and O.M. doctor in a medical center in Beverly Hills for many years until he was invited to be a professor by an Oriental Medical school in his home country. He stayed over there for 10 years.

“During the stay, my researches, books, lectures and practices were known contributory to the people, therefore I was chosen and awarded as one of 50 famous doctors in the country,” Choi said.
He returned to the U.S. in 2010. When he was planning to return, Choi said he couldn’t easily make a decision where to go to live and practice for the rest of his life.

In the mean time, his memory was refreshed of a small but beautiful town that he visited once 32 years earlier. Back in 1979, he had a chance to visit the town with friend Danny Yoon who graduated from Victor Valley College as an honor student and whose name now is in the school’s hall of fame.

“Danny took me to the town and introduced me to a man who used to patronize Danny,” Choi said of his 1979 visit. “We stayed overnight at the man’s house — I would never forget the fresh air I breathed in the next morning.

“While I was in the freshest air, I talked to myself that I would be coming to this town someday to live. And now the dream comes true.”
The name of the town is Apple Valley and the name of the man who motivated Choi to live here on that day is Harold Reid, retired and currently a member of Church of the Valley.

Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: Well, my lovely wife, Anna, and I enjoy playing ping-pong, swimming, bicycling and hiking selectively. Climbing the small rock mountains in this area is one of the best ways to keep our body healthy. On the mountain top we love to look at the view of town. The more we live here, the more we love the city. At home, I spend my own time reading about acupuncture and oriental medicine. And, I love to listen to and deeply appreciate the piano music by Anna. When we sing together the gospel songs, it is one of the happiest moments of our life.

Q: Who is someone who had a big influence on your life?
A: Abraham Lincoln was my mentor when I was a little boy. He is still “the great stone face” to me. On the first day of English class in college, my teacher, Mr. Inggs, wrote many English names on the board and let the students choose one. When my turn came, I picked Abraham, in thinking of Abraham Lincoln, whose leadership, honesty and humble attitude has influenced me up to now. Later on, I found the name, Abraham, the man of faith in the Bible.

Q: Where do you find deep satisfaction?
A: My satisfactions are mostly from my patients when they become free from pains they used to have. I feel like I am on the top of the world when their problems, physical or even emotional, are solved. At the same time, my emotional pains and agonies begin with them if their problems are not solved. Dare to say, my happiness as a medical provider is totally dependent upon their health conditions.

Q: What are the top three issues facing the United States and what is your take on them?
A: First of all, medical expense is one of the hottest issues in the government. According to new law, acupuncture treatment will be included in the plan of EHB (Essential Health Benefit) in California beginning in 2014. That decision of the government is one of the wisest one they made because the more people get acupuncture treatments, the more budgets can be saved. I hope more plans of that kind would be legislated, and then the natural way of treatment will not only help the diseased people a lot, but also lighten the heavy burdens of finance on the government.

Second of all, the large numbers of Christians have left church in the last decade, and belief in God seems to be fading away day by day. And the church is no longer the attractive place for young generations who have a tendency to follow secular interests. I think it’s because of the religious leaders and the Christians who do not want to sacrifice as Jesus did. Most of them seem to ask and tell people to come to church without living what they believe. Church should be repented and be born again spiritually, and should sacrifice first before asking of it.

Third of all, my concern is about morals or ethics issues. Morality today is insignificant in people’s minds. The attitude of “don’t care for others” or “self-pity” is prevalent in the family, in the school and in the country, which may trigger tragic events like shootings. When these things happen, the government tries to make new laws and get control over it. They don’t understand the fundamental problem here. The Obama administration must recognize that the most important issue is education. Educating people morally, not making new laws. The morals or ethics must be emphasized in the country and included in the text book for young generations.

Q: What music gets you moving?
A: Country music makes me calm and peaceful, and leads me to my old home town, family and friends who are away beyond the Pacific Ocean. While listening to it, I sometimes become very emotional and then I think of all those days gone by in tears. I still love country music and enjoy listening to it, though, even while many people are excited about Psy’s “Horse Dancing” these days.

Q: Tell us about your faith.
A: I am a Christian, non-denominational. Faith and action are not different, and can’t be separated. They are one like a coin that has the front and the back. If someone grinds the one side of it, the coin becomes useless. Likewise, without action, faith is nothing at all. I love to see Christians who live what they believe, and I want be one of them.

Adding to it, Christians, of course, need the church building and its system, but more importantly its missions. I personally do not want the church spending more money in maintaining and keeping the building and its organization than in spreading the word of God out to the world and in helping the people in need.

Q: Who was your hero as a kid? Do you have a hero today (or someone you especially admire)?
A: George Washington was a little boy when he cut by accident the cherry tree his father valued and loved. The boy was afraid of being rebuked, but he confessed his fault to his father and was forgiven for the honesty. Abraham Lincoln was nicknamed as “Honest Abe” for his honesty. Both of them have been admired by people in the whole wide world even in this 21st century. And they are still heroes of mine.

Q: What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?
A: It’s mandatory for Korean people to join the army. I was a medic who worked in a military unit next to DMZ. At that time, the military regulations didn’t allow anybody away from the unit and going to church every week. I prayed desperately and God listened to my prayer, and I could go to church every week until I got discharged. While in the military service, I made up my mind to come to America to study theology for God’s business, and that is my life changing adventure.

Q: Tell us about your three favorite movies. One that makes you laugh? One that makes you weep? One that inspires you?
A: There are three movies that may fit the question: Robin Williams has made me laugh, weep and inspired. “Mrs. Doubtfire” was fun and laughing, “Dead Poets Society” made me sad, and the one that inspired me was “Patch Adams” as it taught me how to live as a doctor.

Q: What makes you tick?
A: Some may say money, work or something else, but I would like to say “love.” My love toward God, to my family, to my parents, to my friends is the strongest motivation that I can go on in my life. And their love also motivates me to keep going on in this tough life. Without love my life is vain and groundless.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say, anything you’d like to get off your chest?
A: I would like to share with all my patients the spirit and the pledge of my heart as a healer. I put the “Healer’s Oath” on the wall in the waiting room of my clinic:

“As practitioner of Traditional Oriental Medicine, I pledge myself to respecting and honoring the heritage of this healing art.

I will use my knowledge and skills to aid in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. I promise to practice my profession to the best of my ability. I will endeavor to alleviate the fears of patients and recognize that occasionally the most meaningful treatment may be to listen with kindness and understanding. I will treat patients with dignity and will give them the respect and privacy which I would hope to receive if I were ill. I will maintain their trust and preserve confidentiality. I will understand that a patient’s sense of self esteem is essential to good health.

This pledge I give as an expression of gratitude for being allowed to serve the community.”

Q: How can readers get a hold of you?
A: I am open to anybody, so readers can reach out to me out any time by calling (760) 242-2400; emailing abrachoi9988@naver.com; or visiting www.unicare.co.kr or our clinic at 15995 Tuscola Road, Suite 201 in Apple Valley.

Who would you like to see profiled in an upcoming Q&A? Drop us a line at News@AppleValley-Review.com.

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