Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Doctor

Well, my cold turned into a horrible sore throat and earache- the kind where you can't sleep because it hurts so bad when you swallow. The kind that only a doctor can cure.

I figured going to the doctor would be easy enough because there are doctor's offices everywhere, and I did it in Taichung, right? So Wednesday morning I figured I'd just drive my scooter until I saw a doctor's office (they are easy to recognize because they all have the National Health Insurance symbol) and go in.

As I walked into the first place, it occurred to me that there are different kinds of doctors who specialize in different things. Specifically, this place turned out to be a gynecologist. But there were a bunch of people at the front desk who were super-nice and conferred about where I should go, and wrote the characters for an ENT clinic on the same street as them and even drew me a map.

Unfortunately... I couldn't find a place where the characters matched up. I went in half a dozen doctor's offices, gesturing at my throat and saying "It hurts" (because I don't know the word for throat) and being waved away because, appartenly, it wasn't the right kind of doctor.

Finally I stumbled upon what I think was the right place (I picked a block with a bunch of doctor's offices and figured one of them could treat a sore throat). It was very clean and there were 2 nice ladies who spoke English and were so impressed when I wrote my name in Chinese characters on the form (although I asked them to write my address- I could do it, but it's so hard, you know?)

The doctor spoke some English- he examined me and mumbled a lot and I had no idea what he was saying, but I was so miserable I didn't care. He asked, "Do you like syrup?" Being an idiot, I said, "You mean in tea?", thinking my tea-drinking habits exacerbated my sickness. Of course he meant do I like medicine syrup (which is a weird question, too).

Then he said, "Since these are symptoms from your flu, I won't prescribe an antibiotic." That was when I was really impressed, because usually doctors here are like, take 3 days of antibiotics and see what happens. I got 3 mystery pills and some 'Chinese herb syrup' which tasted like anise, and what do you know, right away I started to feel better, and by Friday, I was cured!

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