Friday, December 14, 2007

Mokpo Medicine

A personal note: I have contradicted a virus. Or maybe a bacterial infection. Or maybe just a normal killer cold transmitted to me by one of my students. In either case something is making me fells sick enough to not go to school, skip out on the eco-gooken oil clean up this weekend, and (the scariest part) to go to the doctor.

Now, it's not that I'm scared of going to the doctor, I'm just not that confident with the language to ensure that I get proper medical attention. I mean let's transfer the hilarity that one has with trying to get a hair cut into trying to get medical care. In which situation can you walk away from "I didn't want that cut off" and well, actually walk away?

Galbijim has a nice post about what to do when sick and even a page for Hospitals with English speaking staff. Lucky enough Mokpo has at least one English speaking doctor: 김건형 (aka Kim Kan Hyan) at the 21세기하나내과 (aka 21 Century Hana Medical Clinic). He's not completely fluent but we managed to talk about me and my symptoms without the need of an interpreter, something that generates so much material for sitcoms:

No one here could speak much English (the doctor knew some words), so the process of getting me prepped for deeper observation was a challenge. They had to get at my hip, so I was told to undo my pants. Makes sense, but in my mind, that meant take them right off. So that's what I did, right there in front of the nurse, who gave a good loud scream and ran into the back room. I had underwear on, but it didn't seem to be enough to calm her down, so I wrapped a towel around myself, shouted some "I'm sorry"s over the curtain, and got back down on the table.
Even though my students tell me it is a hospital, the part where I went to, on the second floor, was really a walk-in clinic. I managed to get Kim Kan Hyan by asking "English Doctor?" to the receptionist and the subsequent service was relatively quick. I received the required shot in the bum, eye drops, and an individually wrapped cocktail of pills from the pharmacy on the first level. I have five pills in my cocktail to be taken three time a day and that looks to be on par with the national average:
The average number of pills prescribed to those with colds in Korea was 4.73, compared to 1.61 for the US, 2.58 for the UK, and 2.2 for Japan. People under 18 in Korea were given an average of 4.56 pills per prescription, compared to 1.64 for the US, 1.77 in Switzerland, and 1.85 in Germany.

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