Four words you never want to hear (in Korean or otherwise): Pull down your pants....

Tue Sep 9, 2003

Today I woke up with an annoying ear ache so Debbie accompanied me to the doctor today, she also had to go because of a sore throat. It was my first time, but I had heard the anecdotes from the previous foreign teacher on Korean doctors so I kind of knew what to expect.

It was still jarring though. Let’s just say Korean doctors have mastered the arts of time management and impersonality. It’s literally an in-and-out operation, a speedy consultation that virtually eliminates any need for a waiting room.

Herded into the doctor’s office like cattle, I notice three or four other patients present in the room with us. One of them is breathing in a white vapour from a hose attached to the wall. Debbie goes first, she jumps into an elevated dentist-type chair, says ‘aaah’ for a few seconds and then goes off into another room. All the while the doctor is barking instructions in rapid Korean, leaving me utterly bewildered. It’s then my turn. I jump into the chair and the doctor pokes something in my ear for a few seconds. Next thing I hear Debbie shouting from some place in the distance, “This is going to hurt!” “What did you say?” I yell. “What do you mean this is going to… AAAAAAAGH!” It feels like some machine is sucking my brain out and then I’m whisked off into the next room where a female nurse says something in Korean, I call to Debbie to translate…she wants me to pull down my pants…so I do and she whips out this long needle and jabs it into my butt, “AAAAAGH!” Next thing I know I’m being instructed to hold two hairdryer type things to my ears which send waves of heat radiating through my skull. If this sounds like an alien abduction to you then you’re not far off. And I have to go back tomorrow and get another shot. Korean doctors will give you a shot in the butt for every single thing that’s wrong with you. It doesn’t matter what it is. Debbie got one for a sore throat. I got one for an ear infection.

We were then issued packets of brightly coloured pills and instructed to take all of them at once. I kid you not, Debbie and I both had the same package of pills. When Sulu cut her hand, the doctor gave her the same assortment of pills too. The whole thing took less than five minutes before I was coughing up the doctor’s fee (oops, should have gotten health insurance) and hobbling around like I’d been horse riding for five hours. Well, I hope my ear gets better.

One blessing from the whole ordeal was that the doctor stuffed cotton-wool in my ears, and that really cut the higher decibels of the children screaming out. Today marks the beginning of “Chusok”, the Korean thanksgiving, so we are on holiday until next week! All the kindergarten kids wore their Hanboks, the traditional Korean costume, and looked like regal little Asian princes and princesses. Some of the silk embroidery reminds me of Persian clothing. Something Aladdin might wear. I’m pretty stoked to be on holiday again, albeit for such a short time. Today Won Jang Nim (director) magnanimously gave us a 50000 Won bonus ($50) for all our hard work in the summer. So we ordered Domino’s pizza and shared it with the cleaning lady in the office before dancing* home through the rain under a full moon, glad to be free of our responsibilities for a spell.

*ok, maybe more like trudging, but I’m dancing inside, dancing inside…

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