Taipei Series: English-speaking dermatologist

photo credit

My doctor in Manila put me on Differin when I went home last April. It kept my T-zone smooth and clear and experienced no major problems. Toward the end of May and into the summer months, my skin went downhill. I started having cystic acne on my cheeks. I thought they were hormonal so I just dabbed some good ol' benzoyl peroxide to dry them up. However my cycle has come and gone and acne still pops up. I was getting worried so I booked an appointment online with a dermatologist from Taipei Medical University Hospital, the nearest hospital my place.

The dermatologist, whose name now escapes me, gave me Doxycycline which I took twice a day, after meal for 7 days. She also said I have rosacea- the reason why I flush so easily. She didn't give me any topicals, just one kind of oral medication. I think I paid NT$430 (around 600 pesos). Consultations in bigger hospitals like TMUH are more expensive compared to smaller clinics, but it does not necessarily mean they do better jobs (well at least, in my case). My acne calmed down after around 2 weeks, but flared up again in early July.

I was determined to walk-in at a nearby skin clinic to have a cortisone shot for one huge acne on my left cheek. I paid around NT$150 (200+ pesos) as it is covered by insurance. The acne flattened by mid-afternoon. This time I was starting to get a little depressed. I feel bumps when I wash my face and see the scars they left behind. I grumble and tell myself I miss my skin; I miss not having to put anything on, except for sunscreen. Sometimes I have to pat on some concealer before Face Time-ing with my mom just so she would not notice I'm breaking out so bad (she always thinks I'm under a lot of stress when I break out and would tell me to slow down).

So one morning while waiting for a call conference at work, and feeling really desperate my skin would not heal (I need to clear up by September for my cousin's wedding!), I started searching for well-recommended dermatologists in Taipei by the locals. I did the search in Chinese and came up with several names from an online forum.

There was this one particular name that appears in almost every recommendation list: 石博宇醫師 Dr. Shih Po-Yu. They commended how Dr. Shih took time to listen to their woes and prescribed medicines that cleared them up. After reading around 20 or so reviews from online users, I searched for Dr. Shih and saw his clinic schedules in Wanfang Hospital 萬芳醫院  (near my school before) and Po Shun United Clinic 保順聯合診所 in faraway Sanchong, New Taipei City. I also read his credentials online and was pleased to find that he is a member of the American Board of Dermatology! Yaaay! I was sure he speaks good English (not that the other doctors I've been to can't speak English, but I have high hopes knowing he's ABD-certified!)

His Wanfang schedule is on Wednesday mornings and I cant take a day off just to see him. I opted to make a trip all the way to Sanchong (Sanchong is on the outskirts of Taipei) after work one rainy Wednesday evening, hoping against hope (and praying with all my might) that it's worth the trek. I promised myself I'll write a review and recommend him to friends if things go well (hence this blog post!)

Dr. Shih was indeed very warm and accommodating. I told him I'd be speaking in English because I'm more comfortable with the language. Daaaaang... he spoke perfect English. I'm guessing he is an American-born Chinese! He looked at my skin with a small magnifying glass and said my skin's really inflamed. He then took a skin diagram and started explaining the parts of the skin and how comedones form. I did not experience this from any of the dermatologists I've been to here in Taipei (I've been to 4 or 5!!!). He also mentioned something about being cautious of my food intake- avoid too much fried and oily food, rich in carbohydrates, and those hot food- not only hot as in spicy, but temperature-wise. He said there's also a proper way of washing the face. He showed me a link on their website and told me to watch it when I get home. Here's the video if you're interested.

He began the treatment with oral antibiotics to 'kill' the bacteria and an anti-inflammatory med. He gave me topical ointments and a solution to apply before bedtime. I went home with this bag of medicines good for 3 days (oral meds 3x a day) and paid only NT$100- I think I paid an additional NT$150 for one of the topical meds not covered by the insurance.

On my second visit, the inflammation subsided and there were no new acne forming. We continued with the medication and Dr. Shih asked me to see him again after 3 days. On the third day, he said I'm responding very well to the medication... quite beyond his expectation! I would have wanted to say thank you and I kinda wish I have found him sooner... but I was shy. He lessened the dosage of the oral meds to twice a day for 3 days and replaced the solution with 2 ointments that will help push out comedones and lessen the scarring. On the fourth visit, he decided to slowly wean me off of the oral meds. I'm now taking it just once a day and hopefully no more flare ups until my cousin's wedding!

I'm really so thankful I found Dr. Shih! I super recommend him especially for expats suffering from skin problems. Very cool and easy to talk to! I will post a before and after photo of myself when the scars lighten a bit :) For now, I'm just super dooper happy that I can feel the smoothness of my skin again when washing! Ahhh really worth the trek to Sanchong!

Full details:
Doctor's Name: 石博宇醫師 Dr. Shih Po-Yu
Clinic: Po Shun United Clinic 保順聯合診所
Address: No. 5 Zheng Yi North Road, Sanchong District, New Taipei City 新北市三重區正義北路五號
Contact Num: 02-29710719,  02-29855630
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Goodbyes and Ironies

Today is Chinese Valentine's Day (七夕情人節). It falls on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month in the Chinese calendar (which is today). According to tradition, the festival celebrates the meeting of the cowherd and weaver girl in Chinese mythology. Whatever that is, if you are in a Chinese country, and in a relationship, then you get to celebrate Valentine's twice. Magastos nga lang haha! The flower shop near my place has been working overtime the last 3 days. Thank you, Auntie Maria for the cake!

I'm so glad July's over. It was depressing, hence the one-month absence in the blogosphere. I wanted some time to just take it all in. People leaving and me not knowing what to do with my life. I can't imagine sending off someone so dear to me here in Taipei... the person I consider my rock and inspiration. She is the only person I can talk to with just about anything and will not judge. I remember crying my heart out to her during my life's darkest days.  She was the one who told me to just cry and let it out, and that I cannot always be the strong girl that I am. And so I did, I cried like a little girl, and she sat there quietly with me and listened with all her heart.

I cried for days when I learned she was leaving Taipei for good. We thought we did a great job surprising her when we organized a mini concert party for her birthday, but we didn't know she had an even bigger surprise to all. She gave me the tightest of all hugs before she went to the boarding gate. I will remember all your bilins, Auntie F. I will always try to be good, to do good, and to never lose faith. See you soon in Manila!

Hay I hate goodbyes. I think I attended about 4 sendoff gatherings last month. And here I am, just a couple of days away from lodging my APRC application. APRC is the permanent residency certificate here in Taiwan. They grant permanent residency to expats who have worked for 5 straight years without gaps. If my application will be approved, that means I can stay in Taiwan for as long as I want even without a job (and maybe apply for citizenship, but I'm not too keen on that). For the past 5 years, my residency here is sponsored by the companies I work for. Basically, you cannot stay here unless you have official business-- like education or employment. And I'm applying for this when everyone seems to be leaving. How ironic. Lord, please lead the way na lang po.

Sharing some things that brought smile despite having a bad month-- my new set of bedding, afternoon catch up sesh with friends at Cafe de Riz and a yummy chocolate crinkle recipe!

Hi, July!

Hello! Hope you're all having a great start to the month of July! I thought of writing a couple of updates before I go on a month-long blog hiatus to focus on some other things a.k.a. "life". It has been pretty uneventful the last few weeks so there's really nothing interesting to write about.

Well, okay, except for the daily downpour that has been ruining everyone's mood (fine, maybe mine only). Every day for the past week, the sky turns gray in the afternoon and gifts us with loud thunderstorms and heavy rain until late evening. Rain makes me sluggish so I usually end up cancelling my yoga classes after work because it's such a hassle to walk in the pouring rain.

But there are some nice days, like this one. I had a blah lunch at work and decided to treat myself with double chocolate matcha frappe from Starbucks. I skipped the whipped cream. The bitter taste of matcha melded beautifully with the semi-sweet chocolate. 

There's also this new taco place in town called Twinkeyz. I dropped by one time and ordered carne asada taco to go. I cant believe a taco with the size slightly bigger than my palm would cost NT$150. I can get 3 soft fish tacos at Macho Tacos for NT$180! It tasted okay but really, I'd rather spend my NT$150 on a McDonald's value meal. But their signage is cute though.

Why are all my favorite priests leaving? Huhuhu. It started with Fr. Manipadam- my favorite in Sacred Heart Guting during my university days here, then Fr. Jem left last April, and now it's Fr. Ivan. I know it's selfish to keep them to ourselves, but I'm happy Fr. Ivan will be moving to a new mission where he is greatly needed. Fr. Ivan is the only priest who pushed me and encouraged me to serve. If I'm tired but still have some tasks to accomplish for the community, I'd always remember Fr. Ivan- all smiles, always ready to serve Him- and then I'm motivated to go on.

I love this photo of us taken during Fr Ivan's despedida dinner! Notice the glasses of wine and champagne that I left untouched. The yellow glass was sparkling water (haha I asked for plain water after dessert because I couldn't take it anymore, masyadong sosyal lahat!). Maybe I should learn how to drink no? But I cant really appreciate alcohol, they all taste the same- bitter! Even if they served what they said was the best dessert wine the previous night, to me it was like a sweetened cough syrup. Haha sorry!

I shall return next month! :)

A Little Break

Hi, world! I feel bad that I have not written anything in the last 3 weeks. I have some drafts and random notes on my phone which I wrote while waiting to board the plane weeks ago, but they're too sad. I was probably too tired from the flights and the schedules... and all that I've been doing. I'm glad we had a long weekend last week and I didn't have to travel for work this month. I just realized I've been traveling from February to May and have barely kept still so the month of June was a welcome break.

I savored every bit of the 4-day long weekend (for Dragon Boat Festival) by catching up with my reading list and spending time with friends. I finished 3 books. Devoured might have been a better word though. If you want something fun, thrilling, romantic and heart-wrenching (yes all these in one book), grab a copy of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I couldn't put it down and read until wee hours of the morning. I also tried  a new recipe I found online- cinnamon roll cake. It had crazy amount of butter but it tastes oh so wonderful. The base is a simple vanilla cake then you swirl the cinnamon-butter-sugar on top. My final product is not as pretty but it was really good!

Last night (June 15) was the 118th Celebration of Philippine Independence Day hosted by the Manila Economic Cultural Office or MECO (the Philippine representative office in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties). It's that once-a-year event where we dress-up, put on some make-up and look like decent human beings. We feasted on Filipino dishes that we couldn't cook ourselves- Kare Kare, Lengua, Chicken Bbq, Dinuguan, Lechon de Leche. It was nice to be with fellow Filipinos and sing along to familiar tunes, and to gather with people we know- the Filipino priests who celebrate Mass in St. Christopher's, the ate's we regularly see in Zhongshan who work at the Pinoy groceries and remittance centers, fellow Pinoy scholars and even our doctors (prolly the only time we see them not donning their white coats, except for that one medyo awkward time I ran into my doctor in Costco hehe!)

The highlight of the night for me was winning the raffle!!! I still can't believe I won. There were several prizes given out like hotel vouchers, mall GCs and round-trip tickets. When the last few prizes were being drawn, I was so in a hurry to go to the ladies room. On our way out, my friends said to just wait for the last announcement. And then I heard our office's Chinese name being announced followed by my Chinese name. I screamed a little and made my way to the stage. They were telling me to run because we were at the back and the host started to count 1-3 (if they don't see me, they will re-draw), but I couldn't for the life of me run... I was wearing heels. I didn't know my other friends were panicking because they thought I've already gone to the toilet. It was a lucky night! I won a round-trip ticket to Manila!

That's all for now :) Ahhh we're halfway through the year... That was really fast.