Originally published in The China Post, 3/22/09 (but not published anywhere else online). Read more of Rosanne’s witty and hilarious columns for the culturally discombobulated on her new website: rosannelin.com
I don’t understand why hospitals in Taiwan require patients have family members in tow for even the simplest procedures.
Last week while at a major Taipei City hospital for a biopsy, I was sucked into a maddening predicament for precisely this reason.
I think it’s bloody obvious from my blonde hair and South African accent that, in my case, family members cannot just pop round like a shot. Yet, the nurse on duty was aghast when I arrived alone. She demanded I ring a family member at once to come round and sign my surgical release form. Apparently, I, on my own behalf, was not competent to sign the form.
The madness then heaped up as even more hospital staff appeared to grill me on the whereabouts of my husband and/or parents. Before I knew it, I was creating horrendous tales to justify my “lone-ness.” I actually told the attending nurse my entire family and ex-husband had been eaten by lions – and I’m from Johannesburg. We certainly don’t have wild bush creatures wandering the streets.
Yet, those present for the yarn accepted it as fact; then with this fixed-up, allowed me to sign my own release form and get on with the surgery.
A mad, mad, mad day – completely “mal” I say.
— Hospitalized “from” Chia-yi
The hospital in Taiwan is no place for a single, “family-less” person. When a person is hospitalized here, entire generations camp out in the room with the sick person. I am always amazed by the sheer number of people that can fit into the average hospital room.
Anyway, it is these family members who oversee the patient’s needs: get meals; change bed pans; and interact with nurses. They even hang around outside the operating room, so that the doctor can show them any excised tissue after surgery.
A person without a family member goes against the grain of the bureaucracy leaving hospital staff befuddled and ready to accept any bizarre explanation for a piece that doesn’t fit their machine.
Madness, cognitive dissonance or doublethink, pick your term.
— “One of the most difficult things to contend with in a hospital is the assumption on the part of the staff that because you have lost your gall bladder you have also lost your mind.” Jean Kerr, American Writer
I tell you all the foreigner girls here don’t like local boys. I know this because I am a local boy, and I cannot find a foreigner girlfriend.
When I see a foreigner girl at a bus stop or in a public place, I ask the girl questions, so I can know her and become friends. But every time I try this, the girl gets angry.
For example, last week I saw a big American girl at the bus stop, so I started to converse with her. I asked her these questions: “Is your weather cold in America?”, “How tall are you?”, “What does your body weigh?”, “Are those real?” and “Can I have your cellphone number?”
She started screaming like a crazy person. I was terrified.
What’s wrong with her?
— Rejected in Ruifang
If you asked a local girl such intrusive questions, might she not call the police or have a family member visit you with a baseball bat.
“I’m dating a woman now who, evidently, is unaware of it.” Garry Shandling, American Actor