© 2006 Catherine. All rights reserved.

ai-yewwww! First Taiwan doctor experience


I’ve had a few Taiwan hospital experiences (a medical, an infection, an allergic reaction to medication given for an infection) but I had my first doctor office experience in Taiwan this week.

I got an ear infection. I’m not sure if ear infections are catching but one of my co-workers had one, now I seem to have one.

I’m extremely uncomfortable with medical related experiences even though I spent the first half of my life visiting my sister every weekend in the IWK hospital, and the Regional. I waited probably half a week to make sure it was really an infection (smart is right). So finally once a jaw ache was added to the ache in my ear and the loss of hearing I decided it was time to see a doctor.

I asked Meg if she knew of a ear, nose and throat doctor. It happens that there is one just across the street. I made Han come because that’s one of his duties as my boyfriend, and just in case there were any communication problems.

I got checked into the doctor’s right away even though it was really late (like 10:30) and he saw me right away.

On first sight I nearly lost it, nearly broke into a bad giggle fit. I’d been having one of those goofy nights with Han. Laughing at everything together… when I walk in and see this little doctor who is shorter than I am (I’m about 5′ 3″) with one of those oldschool surgery hats on, or like the ones cafeteria workers wear, and then the classic reflective round head thing like doctors always wear in cartoons. I managed to contain myself at this point (at this point).

He sits me on an examination chair and looks into the infected ear. The first thing out of his mouth is a loud “Ai yew!!!! infection”. I all but bit my tongue off to stop myself from laughing.

In Taiwan usually you hear “ai yo”. I think “ai yo” and “ai yew” are two distinct phrases. “Ai yo” is usually general disgust at something. If someone annoys you, or you see something you don’t want to see, or you forget something you’d hear someone exclaim “ai yo!!!”. I’ve heard it used in an angry context too when I’ve made students do something when they didn’t want to. “ai yew” seems to be the equivalent of “YUCK!!!!” or “GROSS!!!!!!” or “ewwwwwwwww!!!!”.

So this doctor looks into my ear and exclaims “Ai yewwww! (deeply) infection”.

I contained myself.

The next thing out of his mouth “You shouldn’t pick your ear so much!!! (make motions with his finger in his ear).

At this point I lost composure and laughing I said “I DON’T pick my ear!!!!!”

“Yea, don’t pick your ear so much. Infection, you know infection??? You have an ear infection”

“yes, I know”

🙂 anyway I was in and out within 15 minutes… 5 of these spent trying to convince him that I was really really sure that I was allergic to penicillin and that if he gave it to me it would make me really sick, at least 3 of these minutes trying to convince him that I wasn’t an ear picker, and 5 minutes filling out a form.

Really though it was a great experience and now I’m not so nervous about seeing local doctors. I am leery that he gave me 5 pills per dosage (2 times a day)… but we’ll ride it out and see how it goes.

When I came back I told Meg about the whole thing. She said she went to the same doctor about this problem she was having with her nose and he did the same thing to her. Not the “ai yew” part but he told her she shouldn’t pick her nose so much. I don’t know what kind of foreign girls he’s seen on the streets but I can testify that I have yet to see Meg’s finger up her nose. I promise to take a picture when I do.

I just can’t believe a doctor who only specializes in three areas and would probably look in at least a dozen ears a day would exclaim “ai yew!” as soon as he looks in mine. I talked to one of my Taiwanese co-teachers about it who’s a nursing student. Her theory is that probably his English isn’t very good and he just didn’t know how to express how bad it was. I don’t know…. the ai yew seemed to slip out quite naturally 😀

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