One month successfully completed, eight more to go! Luckily, due to mountains surrounding the central area of Taiwan in which I stay, I have survived to continue on with this amazing process!! I kind of kept it close to the dorm during the somewhat sketchy weather, at least until the sun kind of peeked out on Saturday to assure solace. Since the second week here, my dear friend Maria had been suffering from the worst pain after being stepped on in a nightclub. **DING DING DING** Aside from being a great friend, my research on allopathic and traditional health care motives fell into play as well! I decided to tote my camera bag along for the ride to the hospital. It went like any ordinary emergency room visit, only 50 times faster and 100 times cheaper! We probably waited for all of 5 minutes until her vitals were checked and she was called back for x-rays. She was informed of no breakage (Thank God!!) and internal inflammation. Maria, my camera, and I were forwarded to the front desk where she paid a non-insured bill of 1600NT ($50 USD) which included the exam, x-ray, and prescriptions!! Just too good to be true, we had to celebrate! Being that anyone that is remotely Taiwanese (or at least thinks they are) is out eating BBQ right now in honor of the Moon Festival. **DING DING DING** Last time I visited Taiwan, I had the most amazing cook-it-yourself BBQ just down the street! We stopped by a winery, grabbed a bottle of champagne (before she took her medsJ) and had unlimited mounds of meat, vegetables, and sheer heaven handed over to us to cook ourselves and enjoy for 2 very fulfilling hours!! (Only 500NT~equivalent to a decent meal at Applebee’s, but only SOO much better). Anywho, we rounded the night off and used Sunday as a day to dive back into the coming week’s studies.
The school week, like the ones that will follow, was nothing shy of event filled!
Monday came with the usual 1-3pm class, enough said already! However, being that Maria and I have been urgently prepared to check out the actual traditional Chinese medicine, we decided to pay a visit to Kau Tang Traditional Medicine hospital. Wow, the traditional Chinese medicine doctor was every bit of NON-traditional! Upon entering and slightly struggling to convey the interest of our visit (what would we do without a translator app?), we finally made 6:00 p.m. appointments. Along with us, were a group of already seated Taiwanese people awaiting their fate! Our pulse was taken in the lobby, so some passerby could have completely violated what I thought were my privacy rights or something, just a little uncomfortable. Next, we had a beautiful display of herbs/ingredients/animals/God-only-knows alongside a huge pitcher of a surprisingly delicious concoction of herbal tea for our dispensing pleasure. We indulged into two or so cups before our group was called up. We hit the elevators and approached the third floor, there in which we waited with our group again; however, not as long this time. Next, we received what seemed like VIP service as we appeared to be the most out of place. We were immediately seated in front of Dr. Zhang as others sat in waiting chairs behind us. Some patients seemed to have become used to this regime of handing over the insurance cards and going on over to the next room for treatment. Anyways, we were new patients so it was time for the traditional check-up.
Maria went first and explained her lupus characteristics and symptoms and the doctor seemed to catch on quite quickly with the English medical jargon, relief! Maria, however, unfortunately was recommended the cessation of drinking alcohol as part of her treatment. All the while, the conversation took place as he had his hand on her wrist to take a more “private” pulse I guess you can say. Shortly after, the infamous tongue inspection finally happened! It wasn’t a lengthy process as I thought it would be but he explained how it was essential to his practice. In between questions, he was inputting information into the computer; thus, traditional practice had to stop somewhere.
Next, he checked my acid reflux disorder out in the same fashion and gave me the same misfortunate recommendation of not drinking L. He checked my traditional vitals and it all cleared the inspection. Next, it was off the next room for the two of us. We laid in a dual, but private, hospital cubicle and were told to take off our shoes and rest our feet underneath a heat lamp. Little did I know, this was a warm-up to a literal 5 second long acupuncture section, where a needle was placed into the shin of each of my legs!! Next, due to swelling primarily in her feet, Maria received two in each inner ankle. It wasn’t much of a surprise to her as she witnessed my erratic procedure. A little later, maybe it was excitement or an actual internal rattling of my nervous system, but I felt something throughout my body! The doctor informed me that the acupoints on my legs were linked to my stomach, and I’m thinking, “just maybe they were.” After about 15 minutes under the “needle,” we were finally released and sent back downstairs to claim our wonderful herbal drugs! A pack of diligent employees were behind walls of white jars with Chinese characters I have yet to learn, concocting medicines I have to yet to investigate. So, without much Chinese ability and no translator, we took the powder packets and the instructions we were given and went with it!
Tuesday, I took the first dose mixed with what I thought was powerfully sweet orange juice, ugh!! This is going to take some getting used to. So, Tuesdays from here on out, are going to be my most event filled day of the week. After 4 hours of Chinese courses and an hour of homework time, it’s time to do some clubbing. No, not that kind of clubbing!! From 6:00-7:00, I am gathering my QI during an excellent outdoor session with the Tai-Chi club. From 7:00-8:00 (sometimes 9:00), I am partaking in traditional Chinese medicine practices with the Gua sha club (This Tuesday was an optional day). However, optional means choose another option in my book, so I went on over to music hall for JAZZ DANCE!!! If I would have known that it was going to require some much energy, I would have consumed some during the day. During what was the introductory meeting, we managed to learn 5 different 8 counts in a room full of 30 of us, all with just natural air conditioning. I could have died. However, my will marches on!! I somehow managed to make it out alive and complete the remainder of my homework. Gosh, I’m exhausted just thinking about that day.
Wednesday, I had the usual 2 hours of Chinese courses and went ahead and finished my homework early as I had a couple more club meetings to attend in the evening. I visited the Mountaineers club and acquired some information about an amazing camping trip planned for the second weekend in October!! Next, I biked over to Fuxing Road to where the Gua sha club met again this week, but this time at the bottom of a traditional Chinese doctors’ office! Although, I understood only half of what was being said, to be surrounded by a stock room of similar jars of similar mystery items that I’m taking twice daily was quite fascinating. All the while, my club mates are gathering vital information about acupoints and organ associations to share in a slower, more relaxed atmosphere on next week! I finished the night off with a stop by my favorite fruit stand and nearly knocked a Taiwanese girl out with my bike, but it’s all good!
Today, Chinese courses ran for 4 hours as usual and we quizzed early due to another semi-vacation taking place tomorrow in which the language center students go to Lugang. This city is quite historical and full of temples or (miao’s) as the Taiwanese like to call them. All of my favorite people are going and lunch is included, I’m a happy camper. Being that I spent this evening completing my written work and this blog, I am taking time out to go to Kenting with my bestie Maria! This much-needed mini vacation will start at 5:00am on Saturday and won’t end until maybe 8:00pm Sunday. We are taking a high speed train to the southern tip of Taiwan, where only one of the most beautiful beaches lie awaiting our arrival!! What a wonderful way to top off a successful second school week!! Being a busy bee has never tasted sweeter! Thanks again FEA for serving as my sponsor, I will ever-so-diligently serve as your scholar!!!!