ER: Taiwanese Edition

11:30 Saturday night found me in the hospital.

It's always good to start a blog entry dramatically, but don't worry, I'm perfectly fine. About 11:00pm I received a call from my friend Lily saying she had been driving home when she saw someone lying on the road. She stopped to see if she was ok, and through conversation, discovered she is one of my students at Lan Yang Girls' High School. She was with her in the hospital, and would I be able to come see her? I didn't fully understand everything my friend said on the phone, but I gathered that the girl had been on her way home from a concert, and that she was really scared. With this incomplete information I headed to the hospital (fortunately only 2 blocks away), thinking maybe the girl was drunk or had been using drugs.

When I arrived I saw my student lying in a bed, bruised, scraped and in a neck brace. Her younger sister was holding an ice pack to her head and trying to contain her tears. Eventually I discovered that her mom had picked her up from the concert and they'd been in a car accident on the way home. A car had come out of nowhere and hit their scooter at an intersection. They'd both been wearing helmets (thank God! I can't tell you how many people I see without helmets, or how often i see the parents wearing a helmet, but not the kids).

It's amazing that of all the people who would come across my students' car accident, it would be my friend, who would happen to ask what school she went to, and if she was in my class. I'm thankful that I could be there with her for a little while, during what I'm sure was one of the most frightening experiences of her life, especially as she worried about her mom's condition.

I held her hand and talked with her while she waited to go in for x-rays. I was there for over an hour, and she still hadn't seen a doctor when I left. Luckily for her, I don't think anything was broken, but unfortunately, her mom was in worse shape (two broken legs and a shattered chin). Friends and family trickled in, going back and forth between mother and daughter. I later heard that my student was allowed to go home the next day. I haven't heard anything new on her mother yet.

Now, this was only the second time I've been in a hospital in Taiwan, and being in the emergency room on a Saturday night was quite an intense experience. Everything was out in the open, no curtains pulled to divide patients from one another, but instead as many beds as could fit nudged in beside each other. The room was full of people waiting to see a doctor, friends and family accompanying their hurt loved one, small children crying, and people with all sorts of injuries.

Two beds over from us was a boy who we learned had been in a fight. He looked about 14. There were red welts all over his back as if he'd been beaten with a stick, and his head was bleeding. Blood dripped onto the floor as he waited for the doctor to stitch him up. His friends waited nervously for him in the next room, perhaps wondering what their parents would say when they found out. A police officer made the rounds, trying to fill in reports on the various accidents and incidents. It was all a little overwhelming. I hope it's a long time before I see the inside of a hospital again.


  1. WOW! What was the other time you'd been in a hospital? I was never admitted, though I did have to go see Dr. Zhan there twice.
    I hope your student and her mom are ok soon. How scary!

  2. the other time was just for a physical exam - part of the visa requirements, and a ridiculous part, if i may say so... i don't know what my height, weight, vision (with glasses) and walking the width of the room have to do with my ability to live/work in Taiwan. I'd assume if you're healthy enough to make it over, you're healthy enough to be here.


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