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Thursday, January 19, 2012

"USA... I think Brother...."

"....USA. Korea. Brother."

This is a little snippet from the story I'm about to share...

Since I'm staying in Korea for yet another year, I have to renew my visa yet again. Luckily this time around I don't have to go through the endless paperwork and risk getting deported again. But I did have to go for a yearly medical check at the hospital. Hospital. With my boss. Always a good story!

The story begins waiting at the front desk of the hospital for paperwork. My coworker, Seth, and I sit down while my boss takes care of everything. A friendly elderly man [woops... getting ahead of myself. 99.9% of people in the hospital atrium area were over 99.9 years old. Most of these people have probably never seen a white person. Not an exaggeration] so the elderly man comes up to us. Just stares for a few minutes, even though we can see him staring at us. So I smile. That was the go ahead for him to try out his English. He didn't know the English word for "handsome" so he told Seth that he's handsome in Korean. Then asks where we're from. [Insert many facial expressions of happiness.] "Oh!! USA!! [thumbs up] USA... Korean. Brother..." It was really cute. And is a great example of the (majority) opinion of America among Koreans.

Then the medical check... The process took an hour and a half while we walked from one area of the hospital to the next and back to the first place, etc. First was the EKG. Seth went first. My boss went in with him. [chuckle] And came out and let me know that Seth had his shirt off. My turn. Boss didn't come in.

Next was blood and urine... We had our blood taken (the nurse, of course, wore no gloves...) then were given a paper solo cup (the kind you use for mouthwash) to...urinate in. If you haven't read my post about my first medical check let me tell you that the first time I had to pee in a cup I had to find the bathroom through a crowded hallway, do my business, then walk back through the crowded hallway with my...specimen. This hospital was much more user friendly. My boss went into the bathroom with Seth to show him what to do (as if pissing in a cup is so complicated) and beckoned me to come with them. I stood outside. He came back out to tell me how to piss in the cup and where to put it. I saw the window in the bathroom from the door. But my boss had to make sure I understood. Picture a Korean man with his feet outside the women's bathroom but his whole body inside to gesture where to put the cup of pee.

Then another series of tests and a chest X-Ray. The technician made sure to tell me that I have a good heart. Thanks?

Finally we're finished and we all got drinks at the convenient store. I got a vitamin water, Boss got a nasty barley tea drink and Seth got a MINI bottle of Coke. We're talking like eight ounces, tops. My boss points to the Coke and says, "Seth. It's not good for you. You should change it." Then we all walk outside and my boss lights up a cigarette. Hmmm...

Then we're on our way home. Silence. Silence broken by, "Seth. I think you have a lot of stress. Your blood pressure is much higher than Heather's." I just don't even know what to say to that... No one did. So we finished the trip home in silence.

I have to say that trip to the hospital was one of the better ones. There were no people dying next to me and no dried blood on the floor. Both are things I have actually experienced in a Korean hospital.

I had to go to the doctor last week for strep throat. I told my mom I was going but then my internet went out and I didn't tell her how it went. She got worried and contacted my friends on Facebook to make sure I was okay. Perhaps a little unnecessary but I totally understand where she was coming from. She said the stories I tell about Korean hospitals are such horror stories that she was afraid I was rushed into emergency story or died... Hahaha. (Just a shot in the arse and three days worth of party packs!... That would be packets of various pills that no one really knows what they are or what they're for...)

So that ends my medical experience for hopefully the next year.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Heather!
    My name is Kate, and I´m an American living and teaching English in Spain. I stayed up most of last night reading through your entire blog, which is hilarious and well-written! This post in particular really gave me a view into the South Korean medical system-- sounds like a true experience!
    I´d love some advice about teaching in South Korea, since it´s something I´m seriously considering right now for the coming year. If you don´t mind me picking your brain a little, please drop me a line at kateznix (at) gmail (dot) com! Thanks for such a great read!

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