Post-operative Pain in Taiwan - Beware

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Have a Chinese Friend HELP YOU BEFORE you go under!

Postby surreal_realism » 11 Oct 2007, 20:12

I was hit by a car here in Taiwan about 4.5 years ago. I had to have surgery to stop bleeding in my leg (which ended up leaving me with a 6 inch incision up my thigh)

Not only did I wake up on the operating table as they were stapling my leg closed, but I also got to live through the further experience of feeling them pull the breathing tube out of my throat.

Needless to say I was in severe shock and pain from what I just endured. Thank goodness they had let 2 of my foreign friends into the post op to see me. One of the girls screamed at the nurses and doctors in Chinese until they gave me an injection for pain. I remember feeling like a chicken as they had me under warm blankets and a hot light trying to get me out of shock!

Morons! Like the heat was going to help with the severe pain I had just endured and woke up to.

I still look back as the whole surgery in the hospital as one of the most traumatizing experiences I have ever had in Taiwan (or anywhere for that matter).

I wanted to spend as little time as I possibly could in that hospital. I was up out of my bed within 2 hours after the surgery, taking myself to the bathroom. I pleaded with the DR for more pain meds, which he DID prescribe but the flipping nurses would NEVER bring them to me. I had to get a Chinese friend (parent of a student) in to deal with them. When she was done speaking to them ... I was well taken care of.

Not the best experience in my lifetime ... I would advise any foreigner who has to get surgery here to make sure they have a Chinese friend also speak very specifically with the doctor. Make it crystal clear that ASA is NOT going to cut it!

Good Luck.
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Postby housecat » 11 Oct 2007, 22:14

After my c-section, the nurses didn't want to give me anything but Tylenol. After begging, I got a shot of demoral, but this didn't even register. I finally was at the point of jumping out the window, so they offered the morphine pump. It didn't knock the pain out entirely, but it did make it bearable. It thinks it was about five thousand NT and not covered by health insurance. They had a nurse type in to ask survey questions about how well the pump worked. She seemed dis-believing when I told her that I still had pain even with the pump.

But it was really marvelous. I was able to get up and around with the pump. Without it, recovery would have been much, much longer and more physically and emotionally draining. I needed to recover and get on with being a new mommy.

And, by the way, this was after a three day labor during which I did not take a single thing for pain. So I was kinda ticked when they looked at me like I was a pansy for wanting the morphine.
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Postby Lord Lucan » 17 Oct 2007, 00:42

I think it's all basically a don't care attitude. Surprising really, as you would expect the greed thing to kick in when they're charging 5000 bucks for the cheapest painkiller known to man.

I am glad I bought medical insurance which allows me to choose where I'm treated, which would be Bangkok or Singapore, or for something serious, in Ireland with my family beside me. But I didn't get it until after I went through my ridiculous farce in Taiwan.
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Postby QAM » 14 Mar 2008, 10:04

No gain.
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Postby Mr He » 05 May 2008, 13:16

I had 3 steel pins hammered into my right hand 2 weeks ago at a major tpe hospital.

They tried regional anestesia and when that failed they put me under.

When I woke up in the recovery room, the nurse asked me if I was feeling any pain. I was in a bit but not unmanageable, however her offer og 30mg of something morphine related was too good to turn down. It worked.

Once i got back into the ward, the nurses there offered me a shot of Demerol. It worked too.

After 3 hours I started to feel pain. I asked for another shot and got it. It worked.

Toward the evening when it was established that I was able to eat, drink and pee, they gave me a strong long lasting NSAID (should last 24 hours). It did not work, so after one hr I told the nurses. They looked disbelieving at me, and got a shot of Demerol hustled up in no time. Once that kicked in, the NSAID took over and kept me free from pain for 24 hours, or till they gaveme the next tablet. They then sternly told me to let them know when the pain started, after all the first 24-36 hours their objective was to ensure that I was comfortable enough to sleep and eat, if I was in serious pain after that, then something serious would be wrong. I must admit that they managed the pain rather well.

I speak Chinese and my wife was on hand to drive the message in [I briefed her beforehand]. That said, all I had to do wasto ask when they checked up on me.

I was let to believe that it was the standard modus operandum at that hospital.

Interestingly enough demerol and other painkillers was refused by a lot of the chinese, as they believe that it's bad for you. The guy next to me refused all painkillers after a knee operation and he looked suffering. Poor bloke, when he finally asked for one, his wife instructed the nurses not to give him anything.

From day 2 I did OK on NSAID's and from the moment I left the hospital, I haven't taken anything.

Interestingly enough my wife talked about the chinese aversion to opiate painkillers. I asked her if she wanted me to refuse painkillers on her behalf in case she has to have surgery done. [Note I have a rather dark sense of humor]. My wife's reply was that she was not like most Chinese.

Funnier still, my dad does the kind of surgery I was subjected roughly 50-100 times per year. he told me that 600mg of ibobrufene works better than opiates on localized pain after orthopaedic surgery. Local orthopaedics however don't use it as it has a small negative impact on bone healing times afterward.
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Postby urodacus » 05 May 2008, 13:30

a hangover from the bad days of the opium wars, perhaps?

the picture is complicated as different types of pain responmd differently to the various classes of pain management drugs available, and also because different people handle pain differently. a man recently underwent abdominal surgery after hypnotising himself, with no other pain relief or anaesthetic. acupuncture is also used for much anaesthesia in some hospitals in china. stoicism is part of many cultures, and pain control is certainly somehting one can teach oneself... the body has good mechanisms for suppressing pain that can be activated in the right circumstances.

but the goal of all medical staff should be to relieve pain where it exists, before it becomes debilitating. undue pain slows recovery times too, so there is a financial cost to the hospital that they may not be aware of.

hospital staff who refuse to give or offer pain medication ought to be sued, or at least loudly berated in public as the uncaring bastards they are, hospital policy be damned.
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Postby Mr He » 05 May 2008, 13:38

Veteran's General Hospital is perfectly aware that pain slows recovery time, or the nurses in the ward I was in were. At least they said something to that effect when asked.
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Re: Post-operative Pain in Taiwan - Beware

Postby Ecaps » 03 Sep 2008, 01:21

I broke my femur about three years ago and I was given demerol post-op and it worked fine. Too fine, in fact. I enjoyed it so much that i insisted they stop giving it to me. They actually objected to my objection. Apparently the pain would be too excruciating or some such nonsense. They also told me I wouldn't walk for six months. I was walking and running after 3 1/2 months.
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Re: Post-operative Pain in Taiwan - Beware

Postby Mr He » 03 Sep 2008, 08:29

Damn right they objected. If you are in pain, the healing slows, as you eat less, and sleep less well.

Demerol is one of the milder opiates, and usually the issue is that it isn't strong enough, or that it wears off too fast. (Demerol only last 2 hours on me).

The doses given aren't where it's extremely enjoyable, unless you consider freedom for pain a forbidden indulgence, or you are very susceptible to opiates.

If youi really pushed, I guess you could get some 600mg tablets of Ibubrufen, they are effective against bone/joint pain.
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Re: Post-operative Pain in Taiwan - Beware

Postby Bu Lai En » 03 Sep 2008, 12:06

Demerol is one of the milder opiates, and usually the issue is that it isn't strong enough, or that it wears off too fast. (Demerol only last 2 hours on me).


Yeah, only lasts 2 hours for me too, but they only gave it to me every 4. 1st hour was actually very nice, next hour pain free, and last two hours frickin awful.

Anyone know what's the strongest painkiller you can buy over the counter? I'm guessing it's NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen, Voltaren etc, but is their anything stronger?
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