Unfortunately for me, along with wisdom and perspective, age brings with it the aches and pains associated with manuevering heavy suitcases and overstuffed carry-on bags. As a result, I spent some painful moments in Hong Kong resting my lower back and feeling very sorry for myself. In fact, I wasted the better part of an afternoon in bed cozying up to some painkillers instead of running around enjoying the city that I love so much.
Anyway, by the time I arrived in Taiwan the pain had worsened. We emailed my chiropractor for some sage advice and tried to keep as much pressure off my lower back as possible. But traveling up and down twisting mountain roads loaded with hairpin turns is not helpful with that, and our hectic schedule was not condusive to a time out. I was clearly stuck with a whopper of a back spasm and my stash of Advil was running low.
So there I was on one particular morning barely able to walk – getting me into the van was almost impossible. Our van driver was ever so patient with me as I tried to haul myself in by using the hand grips on the roof of the interior. Our tea colleagues were worried for me, and I was afraid of holding up a whole day of scheduled visits to tea factories and tea gardens. After a quick discussion about what my options were, it was determined by Jackson, our host for the trip, that I should go to the local hospital in a neighboring town in Nantou county for some help. Even though I did not want to, I could not argue against it.
A few telephone calls were made to a local tea contact who knew someone who knew someone who called someone at the hospital and we were given the go ahead to arrive and proceed with haste. When we arrived a scant 20 minutes later from the top of the mountain, a brigade of people awaited us, and I learned first hand the meaning of network of friends and family in Taiwan.
This group was comprised of tea colleagues of Jacksons, an old friend from the tea store down the street from the hospital, someone from the hospital staff, etc. We were quickly shuttled in and up to the second floor, and taken right in to see some doctors who I think were the admitting doctors. Conversation flew past my ears in rapid fire Mandarin which was accompanied by a lot of jesticulating and pointing.
Okay, okay, okay……off we went to the x ray room ( and I do mean all 5 of us ) following the doctors through rooms where other patients were being treated and down corridors where rows of patients sat quietly waiting their turn to see the doctor. I felt big and fat and foolish and was quite embarrassed to be so accommodated, but they had been informed that the tea factory manager was waiting. And in tea country tea business is serious business, so the show must go on ! In fact, I was just a pawn in the plan of getting me quickly treated so we could be on our way.
We wove our way through the hallway and offices and arrived in the office of one of the orthopedic doctors. He wanted to take x-rays of my back ( okay, okay ) which would tell him if I needed an injection ( no way ! ) or medications ( oh please ! ). So we took off for the x-ray department for a quick snapshot and them back to the doctors office. In what seemed like just a few minutes he came back in, and called up the x-rays on his computer. He pointed to my spine and pelvic areas on the picture – no disc problems, no spine problem, just some imflamation and a back sprain. Everyone , including me, was relieved.
Our little parade of colleagues made our way back downstairs. Three prescriptions of Western medicine later, we were back on our way up the mountain, all in just under one hour. I am happy to report that by late afternoon, my back pain was seriously reduced and by the next day I was feeling nearly pretty back to normal.
I was very impressed by the professionalism of all the doctors and staff that we encountered that day, and I appreciate the indulgence of the patients whom I was taken ahead of. It was great to have my tea colleagues act as a cheering squad. I am still not sure, however, who paid the bill.