Three nights at a Taipei hospital

The Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taipei is located not far away from my current home, on Duhua North Road.

Five days after my serios bicycle accident I was admitted to the medical institution where I had sought immediate emergency care, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taipei.

The talkative orthopedic surgeon, who had given me a good impression from the very beginning, decided right away that surgery was needed, but at the end it took almost a week because my right arm was too swollen to be operated on.

The day before my admission I did a mandatory COVID test: it took place outside, in the blistering heat around noon, though at least it was free of charge.

After testing negative again, the next morning I received a phone call that I had a hospital bed waiting for me and that I needed to go through the formalities before 1:30 PM.

As I had naively hoped that I would be able to postpone that procedure until the late afternoon, I ended up having a quick lunch before rushing to my provisional home for the next three days.

Unfortunately, there had been a little misunderstanding regarding the person that by law has to be present in the hospital during a operation in Taiwan.

That’s why I hadn’t asked my Taiwanese girlfriend in advance for her national identification card. As a result, she had to come over directly from her office to present it.

Due to another COVID-related regulation, she wasn’t allowed to come with me to the floor where I would be staying, unless she spent the whole time there.

As for different causes this wasn’t feasible, I started my journey alone after saying goodbye to her at the elevator. Luckily, on the 8th floor a whole bunch of friendly nurses welcomed me.

It was a nice surprise to be given a two-bed room by the National Health Insurance without extra charge. I didn’t mind at all that it was smaller than the average.

Things got even better when the guy next to me, presumably after his last medical check-up, was suddenly asked if he wanted to go home and he spontaneously decided to do so.

That meant that by sheer luck I had become a first-class patient, with a room just for myself. It remained like that for two days, when a young man with an eye problem became my roommate for one night.

Somehow, I wouldn’t be notified about the exact operation time next day until the late evening. Nevertheless, I was told again and again that it would be in the morning. Finally, at least it became clear that I wouldn’t be the first in line.

Well, after being woken up before 6:30 AM, and visited by another nurse about half an hour later, I was still convinced that by noon I would be done. I was totally wrong.

When I woke up again, still in my “private” room, it was almost lunch time. Not for me though, as I hadn’t been allowed to eat or drink since midnight.

However, the biggest issue turned out to be that I hadn’t switched my mobile phone on before falling asleep for almost four and half hours. I have to admit that I totally forgot about it, as I had expected to take only a short nap.

Therefore, my girlfriend, who had been waiting on the operation floor since 8:00 AM, couldn’t get in touch with me and was understandably upset when she ultimately got hold of me.

The good news was that shortly afterwards the big moment had come: I would be the first under the knife after the lunch break, so I was wheeled into the operating theatre.

Meanwhile, my carelessness was bothering me. Yet, when I briefly saw my non-amused sweetheart on the corridor, there apparently was no time for an apology.

Actually, there would have been, as I had to wait another 45 minutes, occasionally chatting with personnel dressed completely in green, before being administered an anesthesia that knocked me out right away.

Only after waking up around 5:00 PM, I was wheeled out of that area, passing by my concerned girlfriend very briefly once again. She could now leave the place where she had spent almost nine hours, due to a lack of communication among all parties involved…

I enjoyed the simple dinner that I had been organized through the station about 24 hours earlier. Interestingly enough, this hospital with no kitchen of its own has a wide range of catered food to choose from, offering many more options than other similar institutions.

Although I had slept most of the day, that night I also got a good rest, probably due to the medication I had to take every eight hours. Or was it because in the meantime I had admitted that I had been quite selfish by causing my sweetie a lot of anxiety?

The first morning after the surgery was quite uneventful, besides the fact that I received a tasty breakfast without having ordered any. It turned out that the nurses had somehow decided for me, which after all was a nice gesture and fine with me for just another day.

Though if I wouldn’t have stopped them in time after inquiring further about the food supply, for lunch and dinner I would have been served different varieties of the same dish that I had ordered the first day…

The doctor showed up in the afternoon, confirming that everything went according to plan. Following the original schedule, I would be released the next day after breakfast.

Even though we didn’t talk much, my ephemeral roommate turned out to be very nice. When he saw me, one-handed, fighting with my tightly knotted dinner bag, he immediately came over to open it for me.

Shortly after his arrival, I had involuntarily listened through the curtain to the telephone conversation he was having with his little son about a new toy train.

The next morning, I spontaneously decided to give him the rice milk that I had received for breakfast. He seemed gladly surprised and accepted the little present with a smile.

After getting my final dose of pills from a young nurse, my first relatively long hospital came to an end. I bid farewell to the team that had been in charge of me, not without warning them about the dangers of the new generation of Youbike bicycles provided by the Taipei City Government.

Considering my modest monthly health insurance fee, the copayment that I had to make at the hospital reception must also be considered very reasonable.

Armed with the removable cast that had been so useful during the first week after the incident, I left Chang Gung Memorial Hospital for a quick ride home, where Max and Leni were waiting for me.