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Another medical experience in Taiwan

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Another medical experience in Taiwan

Postby Rock » Sat May 22, 2010 2:30 pm

I went out late this afternoon to do 400 meter runs at the National Taiwan Univ track. Eventually my muscles got really tired and lost some coordination causing me to land wrong on my left foot and twist it inward. I immediately felt a sharp pain and could no longer walk properly. So I hopped using my right leg and foot and after a few rest stops, made it out to the road where I could flag down a taxi.

First I went home to retrieve my medical card and then went to the ER at Taiwan Medical Univ Hospital. I checked-in for NT$500 (about US$16), got a couple of X-rays taken 5 minutes later, and after another 10 minutes, a doctor came in to review the images with me. Looks like I have a fracture in the fifth metatarsal bone (the outer most one) of my left foot, not good. He gave me two options - have a plaster cast put on right then to stay on for around 6 weeks or buy a special device at a medical supply shop which would be like a cast except that I could remove it sometimes.

Since I will leave next Wednesday to travel around the States for about a month, I opted for the more convenient device. I visited the two medical supply shops near the hospital and that item will need to be ordered next Monday and will take one day to get there. So I will have to be very careful until next Tuesday.

Now the cast would have been included in my ER visit fee but the device will probably cost about NT$3,000 (a bit under US$100).

This doctor was a very nice middle aged guy with patience and decent communication skills. When I was ready to leave, he even went out with me to point out where the medical device stores were. Also, he originally wanted to give me some weak pain medicine but I asked him for stronger stuff so he prescribed tramadol. With ER visits, 3 days worth of medications are included in the fees.

So all in all, I was impressed with the fast response time, simplicity of the process, and negligible cost. Admittedly, ER was not very busy when I was there. I sure hope the foot heals quickly and well.

Now if I did not have the National Health Insurance, it would have been more expensive, but not that much so - probably still under US$100.

However, if this had happened to me during my visit in the States, I would have had to foot a major bill (unintentional pun) and then try to claim it back from my credit card's travel insurance package - annoying hassle at best; an unexpected expense in US$1000s it they weaseled out of paying.
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Re: Another medical experience in Taiwan

Postby globetrotter » Sun May 23, 2010 3:39 am

Rock wrote:I went out late this afternoon to do 400 meter runs at the National Taiwan Univ track. Eventually my muscles got really tired and lost some coordination causing me to land wrong on my left foot and twist it inward. I immediately felt a sharp pain and could no longer walk properly. So I hopped using my right leg and foot and after a few rest stops, made it out to the road where I could flag down a taxi.

First I went home to retrieve my medical card and then went to the ER at Taiwan Medical Univ Hospital. I checked-in for NT$500 (about US$16), got a couple of X-rays taken 5 minutes later, and after another 10 minutes, a doctor came in to review the images with me. Looks like I have a fracture in the fifth metatarsal bone (the outer most one) of my left foot, not good. He gave me two options - have a plaster cast put on right then to stay on for around 6 weeks or buy a special device at a medical supply shop which would be like a cast except that I could remove it sometimes.

Since I will leave next Wednesday to travel around the States for about a month, I opted for the more convenient device. I visited the two medical supply shops near the hospital and that item will need to be ordered next Monday and will take one day to get there. So I will have to be very careful until next Tuesday.

Now the cast would have been included in my ER visit fee but the device will probably cost about NT$3,000 (a bit under US$100).

This doctor was a very nice middle aged guy with patience and decent communication skills. When I was ready to leave, he even went out with me to point out where the medical device stores were. Also, he originally wanted to give me some weak pain medicine but I asked him for stronger stuff so he prescribed tramadol. With ER visits, 3 days worth of medications are included in the fees.

So all in all, I was impressed with the fast response time, simplicity of the process, and negligible cost. Admittedly, ER was not very busy when I was there. I sure hope the foot heals quickly and well.

Now if I did not have the National Health Insurance, it would have been more expensive, but not that much so - probably still under US$100.

However, if this had happened to me during my visit in the States, I would have had to foot a major bill (unintentional pun) and then try to claim it back from my credit card's travel insurance package - annoying hassle at best; an unexpected expense in US$1000s it they weaseled out of paying.


I had this happen to me in the PRC. Total cost about$35.

Same fracture.

You need to seriously reconsider your travel plans. You need to sit at home, and stay 100.00% off that foot for 6 weeks for it to heal properly.

This means no travel, no walking, no running, no climbing, no standing, no teaching, no working, no commuting - nothing. You sit in a chair with your foot on a cushy pillow and you do absolutely nothing for 6 weeks.

If you DON'T you will end up like those old Chinese guys you see limping through the village with sticks on their back.

You cannot walk or stand or PLACE ANY WEIGHT AT ALL ON THAT FOOT FOR 6 WEEKS.

I am sure you are very young and think you are invincible. I hope that you have the sense to heed my advice and not place any weight on that foot for 6 weeks.

Yes, that means no USA travel.

Ask yourself if limping for the next 70 years is going to be worth it.
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Re: Another medical experience in Taiwan

Postby Rock » Sun May 23, 2010 7:29 am

globetrotter wrote:I had this happen to me in the PRC. Total cost about$35.

Same fracture.

You need to seriously reconsider your travel plans. You need to sit at home, and stay 100.00% off that foot for 6 weeks for it to heal properly.

This means no travel, no walking, no running, no climbing, no standing, no teaching, no working, no commuting - nothing. You sit in a chair with your foot on a cushy pillow and you do absolutely nothing for 6 weeks.

If you DON'T you will end up like those old Chinese guys you see limping through the village with sticks on their back.

You cannot walk or stand or PLACE ANY WEIGHT AT ALL ON THAT FOOT FOR 6 WEEKS.

I am sure you are very young and think you are invincible. I hope that you have the sense to heed my advice and not place any weight on that foot for 6 weeks.

Yes, that means no USA travel.

Ask yourself if limping for the next 70 years is going to be worth it.


Thanks for sharing your experience Globetrotter. I think I get your advice. The foot has to avoid any pressure for around 6 weeks. But if I get crutches and a cast like device to keep my foot stationary, don't you think it would be OK to get out of the house and maybe even travel?
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Postby Winston » Sun May 23, 2010 7:37 am

Wow that's very unfortunate Rock. How can you fracture a bone just by running normally? Doesn't it take a lot of force to break a bone, more force than just running?

I guess you won't be coming down this Monday then. I wish you had come on Friday like you originally intended, then this accident wouldn't have happened.

How can you travel around the states now if you can't even walk? Will you just go around by car?
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Postby Rock » Sun May 23, 2010 8:20 am

Winston wrote:Wow that's very unfortunate Rock. How can you fracture a bone just by running normally? Doesn't it take a lot of force to break a bone, more force than just running?

I guess you won't be coming down this Monday then. I wish you had come on Friday like you originally intended, then this accident wouldn't have happened.

How can you travel around the states now if you can't even walk? Will you just go around by car?


I was sprinting for 400 meters a clip which is pretty intense. I do this to build stronger leg muscles. I've noticed long distance runners can end up just looking gaunt and weak. My sister is a competitive 10K and half marathon runner and I think it has aged her appearance.

Stress fractures in the foot are common, even in distance runners. But in my case, I was so tired after my last run and my legs were so weak that when I tried to go left off the track I landed the wrong way on my left foot and severely twisted it inward as I didn't have the energy to re-shift my weight quickly enough. I thought it would just be a sprain but from the X-Ray, I could clearly see the fracture gap.

I'm not sure yet what I will do now. I may postpone my trip as Globetrotter suggests. If so, I definitely could make it down to your area using crutches. Perhaps being a temporary cripple would help me seem less threatening to the girls?

If my doctor gives me the nod (I will see one again tomorrow) and I do go down, I will definitely call you in advance to set it up.
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Postby Winston » Sun May 23, 2010 8:28 am

But didn't you already buy your ticket to the states? Can you change the date of it by paying service fees?

How far can you walk on crutches?

Maybe I should come up there instead?
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Postby Rock » Sun May 23, 2010 10:10 am

Winston wrote:But didn't you already buy your ticket to the states? Can you change the date of it by paying service fees?

How far can you walk on crutches?

Maybe I should come up there instead?


I'm still getting used to the crutches. I think my triceps muscles and right leg quadriceps are going to get very strong while my left leg wastes away. Too bad this didn't happen to my right foot because my right leg has always been a bit stronger and bigger than my left.

I bought a 6 month EVA ticket to LA which I believe is no penalty changeable (at least it is for coming back) and booked Southwest flights inside the US which can always be changed and used for up to a year.

If I decide to go the the States as originally planned, I may come down on Tuesday and then go directly to the airport on Wednesday since my flight doesn't depart until 11:55 pm.

Let me see what doc says tomorrow.
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Re: Another medical experience in Taiwan

Postby globetrotter » Sun May 23, 2010 3:10 pm

Rock wrote:
globetrotter wrote:I had this happen to me in the PRC. Total cost about$35.

Same fracture.

You need to seriously reconsider your travel plans. You need to sit at home, and stay 100.00% off that foot for 6 weeks for it to heal properly.

This means no travel, no walking, no running, no climbing, no standing, no teaching, no working, no commuting - nothing. You sit in a chair with your foot on a cushy pillow and you do absolutely nothing for 6 weeks.

If you DON'T you will end up like those old Chinese guys you see limping through the village with sticks on their back.

You cannot walk or stand or PLACE ANY WEIGHT AT ALL ON THAT FOOT FOR 6 WEEKS.

I am sure you are very young and think you are invincible. I hope that you have the sense to heed my advice and not place any weight on that foot for 6 weeks.

Yes, that means no USA travel.

Ask yourself if limping for the next 70 years is going to be worth it.


Thanks for sharing your experience Globetrotter. I think I get your advice. The foot has to avoid any pressure for around 6 weeks. But if I get crutches and a cast like device to keep my foot stationary, don't you think it would be OK to get out of the house and maybe even travel?

Yes, if you NEVER put any weight on the broken foot. Not even rest it on the ground.

Think about this. You are going to travel around the USA on one foot. You will be tired and sore.
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Re: Another medical experience in Taiwan

Postby Winston » Sun May 23, 2010 6:39 pm

globetrotter wrote:Yes, if you NEVER put any weight on the broken foot. Not even rest it on the ground.

Think about this. You are going to travel around the USA on one foot. You will be tired and sore.


Not unless he uses a wheelchair. If he has a companion to travel with, then they can help put him in a wheelchair that can be folded up and put into the car and taken out again as needed. That would work.

What kind of traveling in the USA will you be doing exactly Rock?
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Re: Another medical experience in Taiwan

Postby momopi » Sun May 23, 2010 11:25 pm

Rock wrote:I went out late this afternoon to do 400 meter runs at the National Taiwan Univ track. Eventually my muscles got really tired and lost some coordination causing me to land wrong on my left foot and twist it inward. I immediately felt a sharp pain and could no longer walk properly. So I hopped using my right leg and foot and after a few rest stops, made it out to the road where I could flag down a taxi.


Back in the late 1970s, I lived within walking distance to NTU by Ho Ping (Peace) Road East Sect 2 and went to Long An Elementary school nearby. The convenience store across the street (from the elementary school) is now a lamb restaurant. They have very good sesame oil noodles, if you like sesame oil flavors.

Back then Taipei was very very dirty with open air sewers. I moved from a rural area in Changhua with clean air and water, it was quite a shock and I was sick all the time. Still can't handle Taipei pollution well.

Just take it easy and let the foot heal. I'd avoid traveling for a while. Consider how important your feet is in getting around.
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Re: Another medical experience in Taiwan

Postby Rock » Mon May 24, 2010 9:01 am

momopi wrote:
Back in the late 1970s, I lived within walking distance to NTU by Ho Ping (Peace) Road East Sect 2 and went to Long An Elementary school nearby. The convenience store across the street (from the elementary school) is now a lamb restaurant. They have very good sesame oil noodles, if you like sesame oil flavors.

Back then Taipei was very very dirty with open air sewers. I moved from a rural area in Changhua with clean air and water, it was quite a shock and I was sick all the time. Still can't handle Taipei pollution well.

Just take it easy and let the foot heal. I'd avoid traveling for a while. Consider how important your feet is in getting around.


Thanks momopi. The specific name for my condition is Jones Fracture - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jones_fracture

I think Taipei has improved a lot in the last 20 years. We now have a decent subway and elevated train system, dedicated bus lanes, lots of local over passes and expressways to suburban areas, tunnels, enforced helmet rules, and zealous traffic and parking cops. Its not entirely a first world infrastructure, but its much better than the old days. Its also super convenient and easy to get around 24/7.

I also think its very safe. There are no dangerous ghetto areas and in all my time here, I've never been threatened or witnessed any sort of crime. Contrast that with Rio where in just a few weeks, I was threatened twice and often harassed by aggressive favela kids.
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