I love Taiwan. I really don’t like to write to dump on Taiwan. After a couple days of knowing me most Taiwanese people will say to me “You really love Taiwan don’t you?! More than most Taiwanese people I think”. And I do, I love Taiwan… but there are some things I find too crazy, to the point of not being funny anymore.
I wrote before about my tearful ear doctor appointment that resulted in a fist full of pills for an ear infection. Well this time around I had a sore throat. I was given 7 pills. Count the shadows: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 pills for A SORE THROAT. Even WITH a Taiwanese boyfriend, who can translate, my medical experiences in Taiwan have been extremely frustrating… one life threatening. I feel like the doctor makes the diagnosis that they want as soon as they see your file (which includes your name and ID number) and then they stick to it. Even before you even sit down to talk to them they’ve decided how they will treat you.
Last month Han and I were goofing around on the stairs and I started to run away from him with one of my arms full with a coat, my purse, etc. I didn’t manage to run for long before I was lunging hand first into a stair that my foot should have been landing on. I landed with all my weight on my hand against the stair in a policeman “STOP” hand motion. After killer pain for about a week we decided to go to the hospital. Even with Han translating the doctor still didn’t seem to get until after he diagnosed me that the accident had happened over a week ago, not THAT night. I kept telling him it had happened a week or two ago and he kept telling me the first few days of a accident were called the “acute” phase and I was still in the acute phase. I KNEW my bones weren’t broken but I was concerned about ligament damage from what I’d read online and if the doctor had spent more time to find out what happened the x-ray would’ve probably been completely unnecessary.
Having medicine allergies does not help things. I have a note clearly written in Chinese that I’m allergic to penicillin. I have a boyfriend who can clearly translate that I am allergic to penicillin and even the Chinese word for penicillin sounds like a phonetic translation for penicillin. About a year and a half ago I had a long argument with a doctor who had only known me about 15 minutes that I had such an allergy. His argument was that it is rare. So even after at least 6 times of me repeating no, I really am allergic to penicillin he gave me some form of it and the next morning I woke up like this: (disclaimer: not at all pretty I can’t even believe I’m posting it). This is with my eye fully “open”.
If being given medicine you are allergic to isn’t scary enough (LIFE THREATENING!!!) the absolute abuse of antibiotics in Taiwan frightens me. Co-workers and I have had the same experience of being given only 3 days worth of antibiotics, every time. This goes against everything I know about antibiotics. Some should only be taken for 3 days (bladder infections) but the majority need to be taken for a week+ without interrupting even if you feel better. Three days is usually the point where you start to feel better. Not the time to jump off the antibiotics so that you can create super germs!!
A couple of years ago I had a student who had been on antibiotics for 4 months. FOUR MONTHS!!!! And he was sick *ALL* the time. I look at Taiwan as being advanced, how is it possible for medicine to be so backwards? I don’t even like to get the flu shot because I want my body to develop it’s own antibodies but unfortunately in Taiwan when I get sick, I GET SICK. For weeks. So I’ve caved. I take medicine now.
Like my handful of 7 pills for a sore throat. I had a conversation with a Taiwanese co-worker today and asked her isn’t this a little nuts??? My blunt and honest boss said in passing “it’s so doctors can make money from the pharmaceutical companies”. Scary. Medicine is cheap in Taiwan, not that I really have a good gage being Canadian, but I know Americans glow about how cheap medical care and medicine is here…. but doctor’s will still dope us out for more money? My ex-roommate told me no matter what was ailing him his doctors always added Valium to his prescription. Valium, which you can also just walk into a pharmacy and buy without a prescription in Taiwan. Wasn’t that considered a date rape drug at one point?
I asked my co-worker “why???? why so many pills???”. She explained that usually the doctors will give extra medicine to counteract what the medicine for your problem is doing to your stomach. Ok well that explains two pills. The one for my throat and my stomach… how about the other 5?!?!? She said if I didn’t like it I just shouldn’t take them all, but I have no idea what any of them are for and which is which.
So I’m going to finish off my day and a half worth of drugs tonight. I was staggering and swaying around with eyes about 50% too wide today, I’m surprised to police who are always on the corner didn’t stop me. I have this bad dream now that by posting this I’m going to get blacklisted from all the doctors like that Seinfeld episode. So Taiwan what are your medical stories?