Seeking Medical Care Abroad- When Dr. Google Fails, You Have No Choice But to Go Outside Your Comfort Zone

We have a very good Regional Medical Officer where Horatio works.   I’ve taken the boys to see her for various ailments during the six months we have lived in Taipei, but one of the boys has been unwell since October and what I’ve been hoping to avoid is now coming to pass:  we have to seek treatment at a local medical facility.

When we lived in Beijing, medical care was easy to get.  We had access to two very good international medical facilities, in addition to a medical unit at the embassy.  I even delivered our fourth son there!

made in china

I took a tour of the local medical facilities soon after we arrived in Taipei so that if we needed to use the services, they wouldn’t be completely unfamiliar; I immediately knew I wanted to avoid visiting them again, if at all possible.  I’m not naive, of course.  I realized it was unlikely that I’d be able to keep everyone healthy and safe from injury for two years, but a woman can hope, right?

Care is good here, but unfamiliar and intimidating, given the language barrier and differing philosophy, or lack there of, of bedside manor.  Nothing about living abroad is easy… except housekeeping.

After several weeks of feeling unwell, we had some bloodwork done at the Medical Unit at Horatio’s workplace.  The diagnosis was Walking Pneumonia.  He took a course of antibiotics and felt better, but never fully well.  He remained fatigued and complained of a sore throat almost every day.  I admit to consulting Dr. Google on more than one occasion, but while I found various diagnoses, nothing was clear.

This Monday, the health aid at the school phoned to tell me that our guy had fallen ill and nearly fainted.  His colorless face stunned me, when I saw him.  Something was definitely wrong.  I took him straight to the doctor, where she did a course of neurological tests (normal) and ran an EKG, which revealed some irregularities, but nothing glaring.  During our conversation, I realized that this was the fourth fainting episode since July.  Each episode could be explained at the time, but putting it all together painted a different picture.

Before we knew it,  we were scheduled to see a plethora of specialists and today we spent four hours at the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTU).

Deceptively quaint from this view.


National Taiwan University Hospital


Overwhelmingly enormous from this view and inside.


We were met in the lobby of the Children’s building of the hospital by a Nurse Interpreter.  She led us from appointment to appointment and interpreted as needed.

Entrance to Clinic

Entrance to Clinic

During our four hours at the hospital, we saw only one other westerner. We drew a lot of attention, but most of it was not as blatant as this sweet little girl.

little girl staring at Bob

Little Girl Staring at Bob

Everything in Mandarin

Everything is in Mandarin, so we can’t understand the chart



ENT clinic

ENT clinic


EKG #2, at the hospital

hospital viewThe result of all of the testing is that he has a heart arrhythmia.  He has to wear a 24 hour EKG halter monitor and we will get the results in a week.

My dread of using the medical system here was unwarranted.  The care was excellent.  We are still anxious about his ailments and are eager to learn a diagnosis that we can fix.  Living far from the familiarity of home is challenging in the best of times.  It’s times like these when living overseas is most stressful.  I am grateful to have a good doctor coordinating all of our care, as well as access to the local hospitals when necessary.

About Commander in Chief At home

Erin is a military spouse and, sometimes temporarily single mom to 4 boys. She's a writer, editor, teacher, and (Autism) mom.
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1 Response to Seeking Medical Care Abroad- When Dr. Google Fails, You Have No Choice But to Go Outside Your Comfort Zone

  1. Pingback: Confusing Quest for Medical Care- Again | The Deployment Diatribes

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