Wow! A full 50 days in Taipei so far... and counting.
Many people have asked me, 'What is the health care system like in Taipei?' and although I haven't had any reason to find out so far - I hear it is actually quite good. The country of Taiwan has a universal health care system, provided by the government to all citizens. It is paid for just as you pay your taxes, so there is not any excessive additional expense (quite a bit cheaper than my previous set up in Dallas, where I payed a portion and my employer paid the balance of the monthly fee). Hopefully, whenever I finally do reach the point of needing/visiting a doctor, I will be equally impressed with the efficiency of their system here.
Even still - doctor or not - in the US, how often do you take medicine? Benadryl on a miserable allergies day? Robitussin for that cough? Tums when your stomach is unhappy? It is routine to take something even if a doctor's visit is unnecessary. Where I've lived, pharmacies are common, and large. Aisles after aisles of meds with entire rows dedicated to one ailment (for example: 'cold & sinus,' 'indigestion,' 'allergies').
I sort of had the feeling that it is not the same here...Friday I found out I was right. Around 2pm, I developed a splitting headache [maybe a side affect of staring at a computer for 40+ hours per week... surely that can't really be natural for any human] and started to ask around the office if anyone had any Tylenol or the like? No luck. The answers were mostly 'I don't get headaches' or 'I don't take Tylenol, Advil, etc.' I actually have some headache medicine at my apartment (thank you Abby!) but that was sort of a hassle to get to during te middle of the work day. What do the locals do for headaches? Well, I didn't exactly get the answer to this question... but they did point me to the nearby Cosmed [like Walgreens - but limited to the makeup, beauty, skin care, grooming departments + a limited selection of vitamins and medicine]. I browsed through the boxes quickly, and immediately recognized the Ibuprofen logo on a box that looked strangely like a pack of cigarettes! Ibuprofen in a fancy cigarette pack or generic headache medicine that I am not 100% sure what it is? I'll take the cigarette box... thanks.
Even more to my surprise, inside the box was filled with little packets of granular medicine. Which looked like light blue sugar and tasted like sugar with a hint of citrus flavor... pretty tasty actually! This would be an easy solution for people at home trying to get their children to take medicine... Anyways, I swished it down with some water and felt almost instant relief. Yay! At least now I have a box on hand at the office for any future crises. :)
Let's face it, I bought the Ibuprofen because I was amused by the packaging... but what on earth was the marketing department thinking when they wrapped up the medicine that way??? Any insight?