|Post Card art-W. Han Dynasty|
One story tells of Yi's ability to treat dropsy (today known as edema). A patient arrived at her door seeking help with abdominal dropsy. Her protruding belly was larger than that of a pregnant woman, and yet she was wasted and thin elsewhere in her body and struggled to breathe. After a thorough examination, Yi pulled out her supply of silver needles and began pricking the woman’s belly and legs. Medicine powder was applied to the woman’s navel next and a band of silk soaked in hot water was wrapped around her belly. A final treatment of medicinal food was fed to the patient.
A few days passed. The patient’s dropsy had reduced noticeably and within ten days she was up and about and her old self again. Word spread of Yi’s ability, eventually reaching the Emperor Wu of Han himself. Impressed with Yi’s medical skills, he promptly gave her a position in the palace and made her the Imperial Doctor. From that time forward, Yi’s responsibility was to treat and oversee the health of the Empress dowager (or Empress Mother), who it is said, “deeply trusted” Yi.