How About a Hospital Visit with your Rain? Week 55 Abroad

How About a Hospital Visit with your Rain? Week 55 Abroad
While the first couple of days in Taipei were sunny and wonderful, we had to make do in the rain our last few days.

This was really a blessing, as it gave us a chance to slow down a bit.

We’ve noticed that Whit gets easily frustrated and we all end up with a bad attitude when we push our outings too hard, which we’d definitely dive every day for the past few weeks. By pushing ourselves when we first arrived in Taipei we were able to relax a bit while still feeling like we had a good idea of the city.

When we did venture out (which still amounted to a few hours and multiple locations every day), we found ourselves at since really amazing indoor museums. We all loved the palace museum of important Chinese artifacts, the astronomical museum, and the science museum. (Funny story, on the day we went to the science center Ben used his laptop at the museum restaurant while I took Whit around. We spent over an hour in exhibits with me teaching Whit about chemistry. I did my best to explain the basics of different principles to him, but it felt ironic that Ben took on teaching Whit at the Chinese artifacts museum while I took on the science musuem. We later asked Ben to clarify everything over dinner). We also spent an afternoon riding bikes along Tamsui River, and loved getting drenched while taking busses and subways everywhere. (And of course we made getting amazing food a priority.)

Which leads me to one of the most mundane but impacts things we did this week: visit the hospital.

Whit had been complaining of stomach pains for a couple of months now. He will randomly say his body hurts, be in a foul mood, and complain when needing to move quickly that he’s in too much pain. I made similar complaints around his age but it was due to childhood anxiety and not wanting to go to school, but Whit was suddenly dramatizing activities he’s always enjoyed. Ben and I have begun to wonder if something bigger night be wrong, so we took him to the international wing of a hospital in Taipei to see a pediatrician.

The visit was amazing. The international wing was so gorgeous, with hard wood floors, a big flat screen TV, and asides who spoke perfect English and wore black slacks, a white blouse, and trash jacket.

Swanky.

The doctor spoke less English, but an aide stayed with us during the appointment to make sure everything was understood. We talked with the doctor for almost an hour, talking about Whits bowel movements and asking if Whit could have developed an allergy. The patient man heard everything, checked Whits stomache, then told us he was most likely constipated. For weeks, though? After traveling for over a year?

We were a little skeptical, but hopeful that such a simple diagnosis would work. We did decide to have a blood test performed for the top 50 allergens just out of curiosity, and we’re pleased to see that the entire visit + allergy test only cost $150 (would have been around $600-$1,000 in US.)

While we were there Ben suggested I see a doctor, too.

For years I’ve struggled with my own seemingly random stomach pains which have left me feeling sick enough to not enjoy our travels on more days than not. I finally got tired of pushing through the dissing pains all the time, and did some research on my symptoms. One culprit might be a gluten sensitivity. Since I don’t have a regular doctor, I decided the easiest way to confirm or rule out this answer would be a gluten elimination diet. I strove to cut out any intake of gluten for the recommended 60 days to give my body enough time to flush the gluten and repair the fit before reintroducing it to test a before and after.

I waited a long time to do the elimination challenge because I LOVE everything related to gluten – from soy sauce to cereal to Oreos to pasta to pizza…. You get the picture. But cutting it out turned out to be a lot easier than I expected. It helped that Asian meals are mostly comprised of rice, meat, and vegetables, but the main inspiration to keep going (while Ben and Whit ate at pizza places and indulged in cake and cookies) was the fact that I began to Greek SO GOOD.

For the first time in years I was falling asleep regularly without the help of melatonin, I didn’t have brain fog and felt happier during the day, I could keep up with simple activities without staying my body and needing a nap, I didn’t look 5 months pregnant, my skin wasn’t as sensitive, and my stomach pains went away.

At first I really confused tgat I felt so good, until I realized that gluten affects much more than your gut. After a few weeks I made the very dangerous act of self diagnosing a gluten sensitivity.

Things took a turn once we got to taipei, though. I was only 40 days into my 60 day elimination challenge, and was more tempted than ever to partake in the glutenous foods Taiwan is known for. I met with a GI at the hospital, hoping for a quick diagnosis based on my symptoms and some advice on how to proceed.

I should have known it wouldnt be that simple.

The GI doctor, the aid, and I had a very frank and embarrassing conversation about my body and no diagnosis was offered. Instead I was given many more lotions of what my symptoms could indicate and a baggy to collect and bring in waste for examination.

Great.

The test they wanted to run wouldn’t be able to diagnose Celiac Disease, however, only point me in one GI direction of another. That wasn’t good enough, so I resolved to have a proper blood test taken to definitively rule out or confirm it.

Well, preparing your body for a Celiac blood test is harder than I thought. It requires reintroducing gluten for the same period of 60 days, so the body is fully immersed in the culprit for detection. I’m recommended to eat at least the equivalent of 2 slices of bread per day, which has been a blessing and a curse.

On the bright side it means that we’ve gone out of our way to eat some of the best food in this foodie city. We’ve had beef noodle soup, dumplings and pot stickers, French toast and souffle pancakes, Japanese cheese cake, and yes, even pizza (twice.) it’s been the most delicious homework I’ve ever had.

On the other hand, all the symptoms that disappeared reappeared with a vengeance. I’ve been more exhausted, sick, bloated, and unable to sleep in the last few days than ever before. Yay.
After a wonderful week in Taipei we left our AirBnB for a 4-day road trip around the island.  We packed everything from our apartment, took a Grab car an hour away to the rental car agency, then started a long drive to our first location. Driving in Taiwan has been much easier than in other countries, and it even felt like we were back in America with decent traffic flow and observance of traffic laws. Ben loves it!
There is so much to do and see in this small country, and waiting until midnight the night before we left to plan our roadtrip stops was not smart. We spent hours in bed, getting more and more tired and fuzzy, looking up potential itineraries and suggested stops. Don’t overestimate Taiwan- you could easily fill a two week trip seeing the sights here!
We were at an advantage by having a car, at least, so we weren’t hindered by having to travel by high speed rail train or flying. This meant we could make some fun pit stops on the way to our first location: Sun Moon Lake.  We spent a couple of hours on one of Taiwan’s oldest rail road sections (outfitted with modern cars for tourists to experience the beautiful country) and an old town known for multiple wall murals. Random and fun is the game in Taiwan!
Our first road trip night is in our first 5-star hotel on the banks of the Sun Moon Lake. We arrived too late to enjoy the scenery or pool and hot tubs, but were thoroughly impressed with the complimentary Biscoff cookies, fruit juices, and other sweets the room provided. And the comfortable beds. And the hot springs-fed bath tub. For $120/night Asia sure does know how to provide comfort! And after a week of traipsing through Taipei in the rain on their confusing public transportation system we deserve some comfort!