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Posts tagged ‘MRI’

New Years Eve

The last few days I have been doing some work for clients in Los Angeles so this is first day out for me in a bit. I love that I can work anywhere I am now… The only real issue is the time difference but as I am still a night owl its manageable.

Illustration done for Robert Montlabano I just found out that we will be doing some more work so the efforts were worth it…

Illustration

As I was up late ( meaning all night ) we are heading out a bit later then usual, Fanny’s dad is going with us to have some brunch after which he will be going to meet friends and play Mah jhong. I spy these exercise machines in the park on our way  maybe later we can try and see what they do…

Exercise Equipment at the park

The street is busy with folks doing last minute errands. I have noticed the closer we get to New Years the more aggressive the driving gets. I suppose this is no different then back home around Christmas and still nowhere near as crazy as the mainland.

Neighborhood Walk

We are going to grab some food at Sun Burger, a shop that has recently opened. According to Fanny’s dad it is run by two college students and is doing quite well as they work hard and the food is good. I am told that the job market in Taiwan is really bad at the moment and because of this quite a few people are starting little side businesses. Fanny and I have discussed the possibility of combining a coffee shop with my art studio in the future, could be fun…

Brunch Time

I get a concerned look from the owner / operator but I am sure its more curiosity then anything else. The mask is either to keep himself from getting sick or from spreading germs and is a very common sight in Asia.

Not Sure

Fanny’s dad is quite a character and I am really enjoying getting to know him better. His english is good and we have been having interesting conversations.  For many years Fanny’s parents did not approve of our relationship. I am happy that we have moved past this and I can get to know them. Part of what makes Taiwan a great place is this traditional life outlook but it can be a bit difficult as an outsider.

The food is quite good and a great deal all three meals come in at around 8 US dollars, including drinks. This  would be a bit more then on the mainland but the quality of food is well worth it.

General Lin

Our bellies full we head out for our  appointment at the hospital to take the MRI, along the way my eyes are caught by some colorful flowers for sale.

Flowers for sale

The neighborhood traditional market is really interesting, these stalls sell all manor of things mostly food and clothing very fresh and still cheap by US standards. On our last trip here we went shopping with Fanny’s mom who seems to know every person here and is a great haggler, getting what she wants for the right price a skill I have never picked up.

Traditional Market

I wonder how many scooters there are in Taiwan, at times it seems like there may be more of them then people but I know that cant be true. The scooters are literally everywhere except the highways where they are banned.

Scooters

A short bus trip has us back at Veterans General Hospital and the arrow points the way. This is the second time I will have an MRI done here in Taiwan, the first before my Arthroscopic knee surgery last year and now to find out why I am still having issues. I don’t know what to expect from this but I am hopeful we can at least get a clearer idea of what is wrong and how to deal with it.

Walk This Way

Obviously I did not take this picture as I am only wearing a hospital gown for the procedure but after searching online this picture is very close to the unit they used. I  believe it is a newer model then the one I saw last year and probably no more then a few years old. The procedure is strange but not uncomfortable. You must lie down on the table and in my case the  legs will be immobilized and inserted into the opening there. The whole thing takes around 30 minutes and consist of a number of scans which the machine makes in waves. I get a pair of foam earplugs like you would use for working with a pneumatic tool. The sound is still quite loud so I can imagine if you had to be inside one of these it would not be fun at all.

General Electric

Now I can say a bit about the cost. I have to pay for the MRI scan and the doctors consultation which will happen next week after the New Years festivities. All together I will have a full MRI scan, digital copies of the scan to take home and the doctors analysis, for all this I paid right at NT$10,000 or around $350 US dollars. To put this in perspective before I left the states I had 2 Xryas made, a 5 min talk with a doc who told me I had swelling and a tech who extracted  fluid from my knee for around $ 700.

Here I will have seen the doctor 3 separate times and have physical records of what he finds for less cost then the 5 min visit to the guy in the states. If I was a citizen of Taiwan I would not even have paid that much. I find it amazing that people in the US cannot see the benefit of Universal Coverage…

Now its time to meet up with Michelle, Fanny’s classmate from University. She is here for New Years from her home in Singapore. I will be hanging out with the girls while they catch up inside the local starbucks. You have to love Dragon man here, I assume he is a paid performer but you never know.

Dragon Man

Picture Time

While the girls talk I get a chance to play with my new iPad I still don’t have my Wacom stylus but I have borrowed a good one to use till then. I am using an app called Inspire Pro here which has some pretty nice painterly effects for its brushes. The iPad of course does not have touch sensitivity but even without that I am thinking some good art can be achieved. This is just an abstraction but I had fun painting it the only issue would be the limited size and what looks to be a real color management issue. On the iPad this piece was in shades of blue but when I exported it I get this purple oh well its a process… If I am not mistaken this program allows you to recreate your work on a desktop machine at a higher resolution which will be nice. I will post more on the iPad later.

Inspire Doodle

4 Hours and much coffee later, its time to head home for dinner with the family, I am looking forward to it as I now know that Fanny’s mom is an amazing cook.

Nighttime Taipei

I keep thinking I should get some of these for my studio at home don’t think they will fit in my suitcase though…

Lanterns

On the way back I spy this lil guy on the door to an office building. Is it just me or does it look like the dragon is wearing eyeglasses? Tomorrow night is the New Year which will be spent with family sharing food, drink, fireworks and of course Mah Jhong.

Door Dragon

Taipei day 1

After a good sleep at Fanny’s dad’s place we are up and about relatively early. Fanny’s parents live in a very desirable area of Taipei the area was originally reserved for military families but has sense then been opened to regular folks.Since there is a new metro station being built very nearby I assume this old neighborhood will be changing soon. Fanny’s dad was a pilot and retired from the  Taiwan airforce at the rank of full General I assume that is why they own here. I am impressed at the small differences between here and Shenzhen chief among them would have to be the use of good insulation, the house is nicely warm in spite of the chill weather. In Shenzhen when we left it was actually colder inside the apartment then on the street.

The building style here is similar to the mainland but the quality control makes all the difference. From the outside the buildings show their age but inside things are good. These buildings will soon be taken down to make way for the new style mega complexes ( developers are already pushing ) but for now its still the old way, I am hopeful that Taipei will retain some of its original charm after the inevitable growth…

The Neighborhood

Fanny tells me this used to be a restaurant but now it is an auto shop specializing in European cars.

Sleepy Dog

Something really cool about Taipei is the convenience, on our walk to the bus stop we can pick up breakfast, grab a coffee and do a little banking. We got what I call a chinese burrito and a rice meat  roll thing called ” Fan-Tuan ” for around 2 bucks Yum… A note for Americans I found out at the bank that our travelers checks are not very welcome here. You need to make sure they are from American Express or no one will cash them. Not shocking when you reflect on what the US banks have been pulling but a sad reflection on our current situation…

Quick Breakfast

This same shop may be operated by a different family for the night time crowd. Taiwan is a great place for food, the taste is a bit lighter then in Shenzhen but I think this has to do with the better ingredients quality. In China they over spice the food to cover any shall we say ” Issues ” that being said I also enjoy the food in Shenzhen just need to be a bit careful.

Making Breakfast

Local flower shop

Flowers

Just 2 blocks from the family home we find a major street, the buses load in the center of the street, this is also where the MRT will be going in underground when its finished. I think when we move here I can see having a scooter or maybe even a motorcycle but with all the public transport I see no reason for a car.

Catch The Bus

Something I have never seen in China, a cop actually doing police work, I imagine she is parked illegally. The police also ride scooters here if your wondering.

Ticket Time

Unlike Fannys Hula Hoops this girl has  a similar style to the ones we have seen in China, I believe its more of a workout thing as the hoop is weighted.

Hooper

On the main street of Taipei, ” Zhong-Xiao East Road “, this is a great area to walk around and people watch, very fashionable and such. Supposedly the real estate prices here have become incredibly high, a bit like Manhattan or Tokyo. 1 million NT for a ” PING ” or around 30,000 US dollars for 35 square feet.

main Drag

This is Fanny’s mom’s hairdresser of 20 plus years. Everybody gets done up special for the New Year.

Styling Time

Oh Boy…

In Good Hands

Thats a good look.

Zombie B

Heh Heh Heh

Scary Me

Flapper style cuts are cool… Why is it that all girls want short hair and boys like it long?

Flapper Time

Louise Brooks  silent film star and the original Flapper

Louise Brooks

Freshly styled we get back on the bus for a trip across town to see if we can make an appointment to see a knee specialist as mine is still bothering me. I am hoping that since this time I have Fanny with me we can get a better understanding of just what is wrong with it.

My beautiful girl sporting her new do

Taiwan is full of temples, you find them everywhere side of the roads, in the markets and neighborhoods. They are really ornate and seem to be in much better repair then their counterpoints on the mainland. I still don’t have a strong understanding of what the significance is, there are Buddhist and Taoist with a whole lot of overlap going on. I suppose this makes sense considering just how old  Taiwan and China’s cultural history really is.

Bus Ride 1

I have seen a number of these, I think they are power transformer boxes, painted with flowers and trees.

Bus Ride 2

Another temple, you routinely see people walk by and bow to whatever ( Gods ) are in there. I have also noticed a good deal of Christian symbology here on this trip, I suppose its inevitable but I hope the people don’t lose sight of their origins.

Bus Ride 3

Taipei Veterans General Hospital is one of the best facilities in Taiwan. Until very recently they had mandatory military service. Because of this veterans here receive real benefits, not surprising if you consider Taiwan’s history and proximity to communist China.

Taipei Veterans Hospital

As I am a foreigner and have never been here before  the first step will be to make an appointment to see the doctor on a walk in basis. After this is accomplished we head across to the cafeteria for some lunch.

Glass Dome

Inside we find a huge cafeteria with many stalls much like the food courts under malls. The place is clean and the food smells good hard to believe we are in a hospital. We get a full meal soup noodles and dumplings etc. you cant see it here but across from us the man is enjoying some kind of sizzling fajita thing. Both our meals cost us around $8 US and are quite good just can’t beat Taiwan for food.

Cafeteria Food

After lunch we go back to wait for our time to see the doctor. He does surgery in the morning and sees patients in the after noon. To the left you can see the office rooms where doctors treat the patients, as this a public hospital there are many people but our wait is only about half an hour. It is possible because they gave us  special treatment as a foreigner.

Take A Number

The doctor is quite nice and spends a good 20 min examining my leg before sending us down to have series of X rays made. This is also a teaching hospital so there are two intern doctors and a few nurses in attendance. He speaks excellent english as he spent time working in hospitals in the states where he went to school. Good news so far is according to him my knee structure is good we just need to find out whats causing the swelling. Not sure what a magnetom is but I liked the sign. I have 3 scans made of my knees and head back up to see what he thinks.

Magnetom

From the X rays the Doctor can see the scaring on my bones but wants an MRI scan done to be sure of whats going on in there. He tells me that I either have injury induced arthritis , a torn meniscus or floating debris any of which can cause the swelling and discomfort I have been experiencing. The appointment for MRI will be in a few days so for now we are done here I am given a prescription for an anti inflammatory med and we head on out. Our total time is under 3 hours including our lunch and the bill comes to a whopping $50 Us dollars for 3 X-rays, doctor consultation and a week’s medication, not bad for no insurance and no appointment.

We take the free shuttle back to the MRT station for a quick subway ride back to downtown. The MRT in Taiwan is very good and using it one can get just about anywhere in the city. The cost is quite reasonable as well, to use it you purchase a debit card type thing the ” Easy Card ” which can be used for any of the public transport and can be recharged at almost any convenience store.

Easy Card

The MRT trains make travel in Taipei very easy, it does get crowded at times but unless you must go outside the city or need to carry a lot of gear a car is just a hinderance here.

Trains Coming

Its been a nice productive day and we now its time to meet up with the family for dinner. The shop here on the right is selling various Chinese New Years paraphernalia.

The next few days will be spent visiting with friends and family, eating good food and generally relaxing… Its good to be back in Taiwan. 🙂

Heading Home

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