Taipei Series: English-speaking doctor

The almost 4-day long weekend had left me with so much free time. And because today is a no-work Monday thanks to the annual Dragon Boat Festival, and I have nothing to do (too hot and humid outside), I thought of writing my first check-up experience here in Taiwan. I was not too sure if I should be blogging about it, but it was a very happy and pleasant experience for an expat like me.

I left work a bit earlier than usual last Friday to see a doctor. It was so nice of my good friend Hana to accompany me for the check-up, otherwise I must have looked really stupid waiting in line. And appearing very nervous.

It is rather difficult to find a doctor who can speak good English here in Taiwan. Sure there are a lot of doctors educated in the US, but I want someone who is well-recommended. I've heard of horror stories, so I was hoping my experience will be a good one.

There are two types of doctors here- those who studied Western Med, and those traditional Chinese Medicine doctors. I used my Googling and researching skills and thankfully, I found a doctor in Taipei who has an overall positive review from a certain online forum. And guess what, she is Filipino-Chinese!

My heart was beating very fast before the check up. Please note that this is like my first official doctor's appointment after 5 years of living here in Taiwan (the first unofficial one was a so-so experience when I slipped and hit my head on the wooden side of my bed- after Xray I was given a medicated gel and was sent home).

Hana was with me at the waiting area, laughing so hard upon seeing me doing some deep breathing exercise when the nurse called my name. I entered the clinic and the lady doctor immediately asked with a warm smile, "You're a Filipino-Chinese?" She knew because I wrote both my English and Chinese names on the paper.

I told her why I came to see her. She looked motherly and smiled a lot. She must be in her early 50s. My main concern was that my left chest (okay, when I say chest I mean breast) has been painful for a few days now- not the swelling kind of pain, but sporadic piercing pain. Even when I'm working, I have to stop for a while to let the pain subside, especially when typing. During the check-up, I must have looked so red and nervous, Dr. Bernice told me to relax. She felt tiny lumps on both sides but she said the left one is more pronounced. She then ordered an ultrasound. I thought she will ask a sonologist to do it, but I was surprised when she told me to wait for her downstairs at the ultrasound room.

We waited at the hall while Dr. Bernice attended to her first two patients. She is really very friendly- the online reviews were very accurate. When I went inside the ultrasound room, she immediately started a conversation to make me feel at ease. During the process, she was asking about my life here in Taiwan and I could tell she's really listening with all the follow-up questions that she came up with. We spoke in Fookien and Taglish- I felt so homesick right away. We're practically neighbors in Manila, and she graduated from St. Stephen's, while I went to the school right next to it- Chiang Kai Shek. She's even encouraging me to live and settle here in Taiwan, because life here is so much better, she said.

Going back to the ultrasound result, her initial diagnosis was correct. I have fibrocystic breasts but she assured me that there is really nothing to worry about. Fibrocystic breasts tend to get especially painful a week before the monthly period (so true because I got mine days after the check-up, which probably explains the heightened pain). She scheduled me for a baseline ultrasound the following week as well.

I'm very happy with my first doctor experience here in Taiwan. I'm not the kind of person who would make time to go see a doctor when I have a flu or persistent cough. I'd usually take OTC drugs and I'll be okay, but this time was different. I cant wait to see Dr. Bernice again, she's such a lovely person.

So yes, you should also go and have yourselves screened if you're feeling uneasy about something. I'm still scared with doctor visits but hopefully with Hana around, I'll learn to be more confident.

If you need to see an English-speaking gynecologist in Taipei I highly recommend Dr Bernice Chen in Zhongshan Hospital. Her Chinese name is 陳明治 and you can look her up on the hospital's website. The whole check-up with ultrasound and consultation fee was only NT$380 (that's around Php 550 or US$13), using Taiwan's National Health Insurance card. Appointments can even be made online. I hope our health system back home can also be something similar. We pay our health insurance every month through salary deduction, like Philhealth but definitely with better benefits and services.

On another note...

P.S. Dragon Boat Festival means eating 粽子 or rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. In Manila, the Filipino-Chinese call them ma-chang. I had this for lunch this noon prepared by the aunties in church. The story behind eating ma-chang and the dragon boat festival originated ages ago when a Chinese poet named Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in a river. Because locals admired him so much, they raced in their boats to try to save him and retrieve his body. They dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan's body.


Rea Alducente said...

Guess what? I'm also anxious when meeting a doctor. Hehe. Loved hearing about your superb experience on your first checkup. And it's so nice that you're treated very well. :)

Angel E. said...

it's hard to find doctors with "TLC" nowadays, sorry, but others will just check, do this, do that, then tell you to go speak with the nurse or the assistant. i know that their time is precious but sometimes just really listening to patients makes them feel so much better, even without meds. glad you had a nice experience sis :)

Niko Batallones said...

And the great thing is, you might have gotten yourself one extra friend throughout your Taiwan stay (life? haha). The similarities are quite brilliant, I must say.

Jean Quiambao said...

Hi Jackie! :) Good to know you're okay naman. Hope you'll feel better soon! <3

Jacqueline Uy said...

@Rea I dont know why I chicken out everytime I see a doctor hehe!

@Angel That is so true but I know there are still great doctors who provide their best service to us patients :)

@Niko Haha I thought so too! More of mommy-figure here :)

@Jean Thank you!

Elle | Style and Glow said...

Seeing a doctor would also make me anxious because that would mean I'm not really feeling well or something's wrong with my body. Glad that you met a good doctor that you'll feel comfortable to talk with.

Btw, I don't know when I can post a tutorial on how to disable the of copying text in blogger but I'm sharing you where I got the link -> here

JhAnEy said...

I also feel anxious seeing a doctor. Maybe I'm scared of might be the result. I'm glad I also found a doctor (dentist) with TLC. Just a few months ago, I had a dentist who had no TLC with his patients. He did a temporary filling on my molar and he wasn't careful because my tongue got hurt and I was also gagging during that time. But when the other dentist did my permanent filling, I never experienced it. My tongue was never hurt and she stops in a while to give me time to relax my tongue. So I can really relate to finding a good doctor for us. It's really important to have a rapport between the healthcare provider and the patient.

Maita Atienza, Makeup Artist Philippines said...

So glad your results turned out alright. Watch you health :-) And thanks for that little tidbit about ma chang. That was very interesting.

Jacqueline Uy said...

@Jhaney There is always something to be nervous about when seeing a doctor hehe :) Glad to have found one who made me feel at ease.

@Maita Thank you! I miss your entries! :)