Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Back Aches

These past few weeks have been topsy-turvy. Last Wednesday, I was getting ready to leave for work when I lifted my backpack and heard a snap. Something let go in my back. I can't figure it out...the bag wasn't heavy and I picked it up just as I have a million times before. Regardless, it hurt. The rest of that evening was tough, work was a challenge. The crazy pain didn't start until I woke up the next morning.

Thursday morning I could barely lift my head. I decided to head over to my local doctor. Thankfully, doctors here are plentiful and getting to see one is never a problem. There happens to be an office in the building next to mine. I went in and within about 5 minutes a nurse had given me an ice pack and the doctor was asking me all the pertinent questions. Every doctor I have encountered here has a functional level of English, thankfully. The receptionist took my health card, wrote down my info, and charged me a whopping NT$100 for my visit...folks, that is about $3 American...

A few minutes later, I was escorted to an exam table. The doctor began by having me lift my arms to see my range of movement. He stated that he sees this type of injury a lot. He put cream on my back and told me that many back injuries are a result of infections. In order to fight the infection, he was going to try some cupping on my back. It's used to draw out the toxic stuff that may be causing the pain. The following picture is my friend Carrie getting the same procedure.

If you'd like to learn more about "cupping" and lots of other neat stuff, check out Carrie's site at My Several Worlds.
Photograph by Joanna Rees. She is an ex-pat living here in Taipei and quite the shutterbug. Check out her site at Joanna Rees Photography.

I'm not sure if the procedure worked, but I am willing to try anything, back/neck pain is the worst. Along with the cups, the doc did some pressure point work. After the pressure work, I felt a bit better.

While I was trying to relax I glanced out the crack in the door and noticed a woman across the hall having acupuncture applied to areas on her face...this is when all hell broke lose...NEEDLES!! The room began to spin. Wow, I am a total basket case. I told the doctor that I needed to lay down and some water to drink would be nice. Cold sweat beads were forming on my forehead. He left the room and came back with some water and an interesting little chewy thing that was supposed to help me did. After allowing me to lay down for a few minutes, the good doctor got back to work. He told me not to lift anything heavy for a few days and applied a bunch of stinky smelling patches to my back. I could take off the patches in about 6 hours.

I took off work Thursday and tried to relax. That evening I took off the patches and felt a little better but I don't think that any of the procedures would have a lasting effect. It's been a week since the visit and I still have quite a bit of discomfort.

Many of you may be thinking that the above procedures are odd. Yes, the doctor I went to is a traditional Chinese doctor that specializes in alternative methods of care. This is not the only form of medical care here, just one of the options. I was curious to see what kind of alternative treatments were out there. "Normal" doctors are also plentiful and it costs me just NT$200 per visit (about $6 American). I think I might head over and see the guy that I went to when I worked in Shulin, he is great.


Carrie said...

Hi David,

I'm glad to hear your back is getting better. Traditional Chinese Medicine does have its merits, despite being a little uncomfortable at times. The photo above belongs to my friend, Joanna Rees at

She took this photo for Discover Taipei magazine. I'm sure you remember meeting her and her husband, Ranjit.

By the way, I've started a new blog called Taiwan Photographers on blogger. It's a collaboration of amateur and professional photographers in Taiwan. I'd love to feature some of your work if you're interested!

Joanna said...

David I am feeling quite alarmed and angry to see how you have ripped my photo off Carries blog and are using it on your blog without my consent or photo credit.

Please provide photo credit to Joanna Rees or remove the photo at once.

David said...

My bad Joanna. No malice intended. I have given credit to you for the photograph.

Sorry, David

Joanna said...

Thanks for your kind words and for providing photo credit David.

Happy Autumn Festival!