Guest Article: It’s Who You Know

Taiwan blogger Todd Alperovitz kindly wrote a guest article for!  Todd runs one of my favorite blogs, The Daily Bubble Tea.   The Taiwan blogosphere is highly talented, and like other well known bloggers, Todd is an excellent photographer.  Recently, Todd has featured articles on several Japanese destinations he has visited and his photographs bring you right there.  If you missed those articles, I suggest you take a look!  Many of our readers also enjoy The Daily Bubble Tea and I’m sure you will too.
Here is Todd’s article:

It’s Who You Know

I checked myself into Veteran’s General Hospital on a Tuesday summer  afternoon because the left side of my body was feeling numb and was  significantly weaker than the right side.  In Taiwan, you can choose  what type of doctor you would like to see, so I chose to see a  neurologist.  In the U.S., however I would have had to go through a  general practitioner and then be referred to a specialist.

Once my number was called I saw my doctor, she ran a few strength  tests, asked a few questions, and informed me that an MRI would be  required because I had the symptoms of someone who had suffered a  mild stroke.  I was told that if the symptoms got worse, to come back  immediately.  I walked down to the basement of the adjacent building  and signed up for the earliest available slot for the test: 3 weeks  later with results available in a week.  It was a very stressful time  for me, I was taking Mandarin lessons at Shida and juggling a bloated  schedule working at a cram school I detested.  It had appeared I had  4 weeks scheduled to wonder and stress over whether or not I had a  stroke at 26 years old.  I was telling a couple of parents whom I  trusted about my dilemma when one parent offered her help.

First she drove me to visit her husband who is an acupuncturist.  He  probed my head and left arm for the appropriate pressure points and  he began putting in the needles.  It was while he was finishing up  that he had asked his assistant to add electricity.  A few of the  needles had a pulsing electric current running through them, my face  twitched and my left arm jumped rhythmically with the pulses.  As I  left, I was handed a seven-day supply of herbal medicine and a bill  for $250 NT (the rest covered by the National Insurance).  I was  asked to come twice a week until I felt better.

The next day, while sucking down a glass of herbal medicine (which  tastes like dirt by the way), a person from the hospital called and  asked if I could come in the following day for an MRI.  The woman,  who had taken me to see her husband, had met with the right  individuals at the hospital to get me in sooner.  I visited her that  evening to thank her when she had given me detailed instructions as  to how to receive my results that day instead of a week later.

The day of the MRI I followed her instructions to get my results that  day, the pictures were uploading onto the Director of Radiology’s  computer as I was walking through the doorway of his office.  He took  me through the pictures and informed me that there was no  neurological reason for my symptoms.  He told me if acupuncture was  making me feel better to continue doing it and if I didn’t feel  better after a couple months to come back for blood tests.

It’s caring individuals like this who have complicated my original  plan to live in Taiwan for only a year.  I will forever feel grateful  to my student’s parents who helped me during that incredibly worrisome time and Taiwan’s National Health Insurance for covering my visits to the neurologist, MRI, and acupuncture sessions.

Todd, I’m very happy to know that you are alright and feeling better!MJ

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  1. That is one thing I like about Taiwan’s health system – you can go directly to see a specialist without needing to see a GP first. However, sometimes you’re not sure who to see and you have to take a best guess which might be the best department for your symptoms, and this often involves discussing your symptoms with the hospital’s registration staff! I have to say that I don’t recommend “family doctors” in Taiwan. Many of them really don’t have much of a clue, in my experience.

    So what was the likely cause of your symptoms, Todd, if your doctor has ruled out mini-stroke? You might want to visit a stroke doctor and have him/her look at your MRI results – can’t harm to get a second opinion.

  2. Terrific article Todd. I wrote a little while ago about an ear problem I’ve suffered from for over 20 years. My boss recommended a doctor and introduced me to him. Within a month my hearing was restored and I haven’t had any problems since. I’m still thanking my boss for the introduction.

    Carrie’s last blog post..Shibuya!

  3. Thanks Carrie!

    Naruwan – I discussed the results with the hospital’s Director of Radiology and the neurologist I saw the first time the same day. As for the reasons, they figured it was viral and if it came back to do the blood tests, but I haven’t had the problem recur since the acupuncture sessions.

    Next up will be getting the physical I keep putting off. Any recommendations for doctors in Taipei?

    Todd’s last blog post..Kyoto Imperial Palace

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