This last Thursday I was struck ill by a vile cold. It was very debilitating as I had planned to go on a tour of Jeju and Busan for the extended holiday but could barely raise my head on Friday that they sent me home early from work. I am not a big fan of doctors or the emergency, my co-teacher kept texting me and urging me to try out South Korea’s healthcare system. I finally decided to go after the tenth text message that woke me up and a bit of prompting from my mother.
I had my buddy, Kim, meet me in Seohyeon to take me to the hospital and interpret for me. Since my visit was on a holiday (Lunar New Year) I had to pay more money to see a ‘specialist.’ Compared to the US the wait in the emergency room was nothing, I believe I waited about ten minutes before I was seen by a doctor who asked me my symptoms. I replied with what you normally have with a common cold. He asked me on two occasions if I had diarrhea. For the folks at home keeping score the answer was “no.” He then had me hop onto a bed built and sized for newborns and checked my breathing. Then he pressed on my stomach to check for pain.
At no time did I see a tongue depressor or did he even glance at my nose which at the time had no air coming or going through it. He then asked me about my bowels again and then said he had to consult with another doctor. After about fifteen more minutes the nurse called me over, told me to pull my pants down and gave me a shot of unknown fluid. Needles do not bother me at all but nearly forty-five minutes later the area I was injected in was still stinging.
Kim then lead me to a pharmacy where I paid 4,000 won for three days of medicine. It took nearly an hour in the emergency room to be diagnosed, injected, and sent on my way. I still have no idea if I had been injected with something that would ease my situation or if I just became a test subject for gamma radiation.
It has been a few days now and while I am on the mend, I still don’t feel as if the trip to the hospital has done a damn thing for me getting over whatever hit me a few days ago. While I commend Korea on their in and out speed in the emergency room, I am less than pleased regarding their diagnosis and methods for identifying an illness. That is all I have for now. Stay beautiful.