Friday, March 1, 2013

Going to the Doctor on a National Holiday

At first I thought this would be pretty simple. I google translated 'Ear Nose and Throat' specialist and plugged the results into google maps, looking for one nearest to my house. Marked it on my GPS and set off to see a doctor and get some meds.  Forgot my GPS at home and decided to try find it anyway.  begged someone to show me which building it was in.

I trotted up the stairs, saw the doctor and everything was hunky-dory. and met with disaster. The doctor had decided to embrace the National Holiday that has closed businesses up and down my street. I decided to try to walk to the hospital I'd seen on the way to my flat yesterday. I remembered it being quite big, and I thought I could find it.

I didn't.

I did get insulted by a small yappy dog though, while spending ages trying to explain that I needed to see a doctor but had already seen that the ENT the guy was directing me to was closed, because today is a National Holiday. Try to mime THAT!

Fed up, I went home, cried, ate popcorn that I couldn't smell or taste (but I bet it was delicious) and watched some k-drama.

Then I decided to try again. This time I over-prepared. I loaded more detailed maps onto my garmin, found a promising location called 'Daegu Bukgu Health Center' which had a big green cross, healthy people, and men in white coats on their website. It wasn't too far away; in fact, I think I walked right past it on my first attempt. So off I went again.

The building looked closed, but there were a couple of people sitting at the desk in reception. I asked if anyone spoke English. Nope. I coughed and mimed dying. They pointed at the date and said 'Holiday'. I cried a little bit and coughed for realsies. And suddenly things started happening. A nice man pulled me out of the building and instructed me to get in his car. But nooo, not in the front seat! That wouldn't be right, considering we'd just met. He threw me into the back seat and we zoomed off. I kept my garmin on so I could find my way home if I had to make a quick escape mark the clinic he was taking me to on my map, and we went into a small clinic.

It was clean and the nurses had very nice pink uniforms. They seemed concerned over my ARC certificate (as I don't have a card yet) and asked me what my Korean name is. Um. I don't have one yet, so I just said 'Katie' which is easiest for Koreans to say. They sat me down for a bit, and then stood me up and took my temperature. Then they sat me down again. After about ten minutes of waiting, I was hustled into an office, met a lovely doctor who didn't speak any english, and once again did my cough-cough-sniff-sniff-death routine. He whipped out his stethoscope, probed my mouth, and asked if I still had me tonsils (via mime). Then he explained that he was going to prescribe some pills, cough syrup and a bum jab. I especially liked it when he mimed the bum jab. The matronly nurse rushed me into the bum jab place and did what it said on the tin, with a little more rubbing and spanking than I'm used to. Maybe she couldn't find a vein because it's cold and I'm a fat foreigner. It was the most action I've gotten in months.

Then I handed over some money ($1.20 for a consultation?!), got some money back, and the nice man from earlier took me to the pharmacy to fill my prescription, which also worked out a lot cheaper than any stuff back home, and this was without the National Health Insurance that I'm supposed to have. We fiddled with my garmin for a bit while the guy tried to work out where I lived, and then settled on me directing (with mime). I don't know how he fit his car into the teeny tiny alleyways that lead to my house (smaller than he needed to because alleys aren't on the map so it was the most direct route) and then there it was! Chateau le Sparkle. Home sweet home. He dropped me off, I thanked him, and bowed almost to my feet with gratitude.

And here I am, with a mountain of pills in little partitioned bags, and a pile of revolting cough syrup. There are weird cartoon characters on the cough syrup, and their facial expressions pretty much match mine when I first tasted this crap.

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