Saturday, March 7, 2009

In the hospital

I went to the doctor on Feb. 24th because my cold/flu had spread to my ear. The doctor diagnosed bronchitis and a middle ear infection, and gave me some medicine. I was feeling better a few days later, and thought I was cured.

Then, Saturday night I developed a high fever and found sleeping difficult. I got up on Sunday with pain in my chest when I breathed deeply, and surmised that I might have pneumonia. Whatever it was, I knew I had to see a doctor again. My friend Chyo took me to the ER around 2:00pm.

X-rays showed a shadow on my right lung, blood tests showed my white blood cell count at 28,000 (normal=9-12K), and the ER doctor confirmed that I had pneumonia. Fortunately, I had previously requested copies of my medical records from the US, and the doctors here could see that I had a life-threatening case of pneumonia back in 2001. They immediately started an IV with antibiotics and said they would admit me when a room opened up (a room paid for by the national health insurance). I ended up staying in the ER for 28 hours; finally, on Monday evening, I was transferred to a room on the 12th floor.

By Monday afternoon my fever had gone down, thankfully; I had been in a miserable fog until that time. On Tuesday my energy started coming back. My white blood cell count, however, had not yet dropped. The doctor checked my liver and kidney functions and said they were fine, so the cell count wasn't a serious concern.

I spent my birthday Thursday in the hospital, feeling pretty good, which was a relief because I had been feeling poorly since Feb. 15th. On Friday my cell count was back to normal, so all indications showed that I would probably be released that day. However, the x-rays still showed about 50% of the shadow, so the doctor advised me to stay until Monday to continue on the IV antibiotic. I'm writing this on Saturday afternoon from the 15th floor lounge, the only place with an internet connection (this is the VIP floor).

Min Sheng Hospital (敏盛綜合醫院) has provided me excellent medical care. In Taiwan it's expected that patients will have family taking care of them while admitted, much more so than in the US. I'm so grateful to Chyo who took time off work to stay with me and help me the first few days; I don't know what I would have done without him. I'm also thankful for my friends, including coworkers and students, who came to visit me and help me.

Click on photos to enlarge.

A view of the hospital Emergency RoomAsking Marc to send a message to my family in the USDuring my 28-hour stay in the ER

In my lovely hospital attire12th floor, bed 58Breathing treatment

Celebrating my birthday in the hospitalMmm, chocolate!No fire allowed, so I'm "blowing out" the light on my cell phone

Sharing cake with the nursesThey later gave me a sweet card