Saturday, April 11, 2009

only good intentions

i had my first socialized medicine experience today. i've felt really crummy the last couple of days with a sore throat and chills and stuff so i wanted to see the doctor this morning so i wouldn't be stuck all weekend without medicine.

i decided to go to the hospital across the street because i knew they were open saturday mornings. went over there at 8 to register and they put me in line for the ENT. i found the room i was supposed to wait outside of, but no one was there. i waited for 10 minutes or so and some guy came over to me to tell me that the office wouldn't open until 9 and i was #43 in line anyway so i probably wouldn't be called until 10:30 or 11.
they don't do actual appointments. you just get a number and the doctor just plows through as many people as he can until the clinic closes.
i thanked the guy who helped me and since we were sitting there, he asked if he could chat with me and started asking the usual questions.
where are you from?
how long have you been here?
where do you work?
can you speak any chinese?
i was in a fog of pain and chills, but i answered his questions. he told me he was an IT guy at the hospital and asked if i wanted to do a language exchange. so we're going to meet on saturdays to speak english and chinese.
i feel bad that he met me when i was so out of it.
finally saw the doctor around 11. i was thrilled to find out that he could speak english. he told me i have a sinus infection and tonsillitis. he used some sucking tool in my nose which was pretty creepy, but other than that it was pretty standard. and he told me not to eat spicy food.
he gave me a prescription for 4 things that i'm supposed to take 4 times a day (tylenol, an antibiotic, an anti-allergy thing and anti heartburn medication [? all i can think is that maybe it's to counteract the heartburn that might be caused by all of the other pills]).

when i went to the cashier's desk, two of the ladies i used to teach english were working. ironically, we only spoke chinese when i was paying/figuring out where to go next. i pay into the national health insurance, so the whole ordeal only cost $550 NT ($17US) for the registration, appointment, and 5 days worth of medicine.
being sick in a foreign country is no fun. but i'm glad i have medicine now.

after all of that, i went to the tea place to buy 3 big cups of green tea and some fruit at the fruit market next door and it's been a day of movies and the internet and napping. everyone went out to a club for jon's birthday and i'm kind of bummed i couldn't go to that, but i need to recoup.

i had my windows open earlier and i heard opera singers.. so i went to investigate and there was a big concert in the park. i just sat on a little hill and listened. the lead guy, who i guess is famous, as there were giant posters of him on stage, seemed kind of out of it. he had a lazy eye so he just looked confused and he was singing really quietly and then he kept singing once the song ended. at the end, they gave him a bouquet of flowers that was so big you couldn't see his whole upper body from behind them, it was pretty funny. the music was nice though.


William said...

Hi Megan,

Hope you are feeling better now...

The number that you get when you register for a clinic is indeed a way to establish a "pecking order", and like you said, the doctors "plow along" until they have seen every one who is on the list.
There is a time indicated on the registration slip, that gives an estimation of when your number will be called - it is only an estimation, but this way patients know more or less when to show up, and don't need to waste too much time waiting.

I work at Min-Shen Hospital, and we welcome all the feed back that we can gather from foreign patients, so feel free to get in touch with me.



megan said...

hi william,
i'd be happy to give you more feedback from a foreigner's point of view if you email me or leave your email address.

Anonymous said...

Actually sounds like my HMO. But cheaper.