I don’t even know how to begin this post, so I’m just gonna hit the ground running. I watched a movie with some friends on Thursday, and after coming back to my apartment, realized that my throat was a bit sore. Felt a little worse Friday, and by Saturday I was in full-fledged sick mode. Body aches, sore throat, nasal congestion–the works. I chugged water like it was my job, but even the H2O influx wasn’t enough to stave off the sickness that was about to coup de my body. Managed to go to the local medicine man (OK, so it’s a pharmacy, but like, a really ghetto one where I point to what hurts and the guy at the counter gives me drugs), but the crap he gave me (and that I paid four bucks for) didn’t do a thing to make me feel better. Sunday wasn’t much better–I managed to eat a sandwich and pasta and drink two cups of tea, and that was my nourishment for the day.

This morning was perhaps the worst. My throat felt like it was closing up and my tongue seemed as though it had swelled to twice its size. I couldn’t speak normally and was concerned about calling out sick to work, because I didn’t think my Korean boss would be able to understand me through my cotton mouth. Couldn’t get a hold of her, but did call our head teacher, who told me to take it easy today and go to the doctor.

Which brings me to the clinic. Now, when I think clinic, I imagine Izzie Stevens and George O’Malley and a ton of interns who mix up patient tests. Here in Korea, clinics are nothing like that, at least not the one in Suyu, and perhaps that is for the best. Here’s how my morning went: I walk in and hand my medical card to the receptionist, who immediately escorts me back into the doctor’s office. His English is, while not great, semi-decent. He’s been dealing with SEV English teachers for awhile and is used to strange, sick foreigners in his office. After a quick check down my throat, he deduces that I need antibiotics and a shot. A shot, you say? Yes, a shot in the tush. So off I go to the next room, where I drop trou and lay face-down on the bed. Once that’s over and done with, I’m immediately ushered into another room, where I have to breathe into some weird oxygen apparatus for two minutes (EDIT: My med school friend Kevin tells me that this machine is called an albuterol nebulizer). I’ve done this at the clinic before, but never understood why. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Korea, it is that you just do things without asking why, because even if it was explained to you, it probably wouldn’t make any sense. Don’t believe me? Well, I live in a country where even medical professionals believe that “fan death” exists, and if that isn’t the stupidest thing in the world, I don’t know what is.

After my two minutes with the machine, I head back up the reception desk, where the doctor comes out and charges me 3,000 won ($2.50) for his services. Hollerrrrrrrrr, cheap health care! Here’s how the rest of the conversation goes:

Me: So, what do I have?
Doctor: Three thousand won, please.
Me: Right, but what am I sick with?
Doctor: Sick with?
Me: Yes, what is sickness called?
Doctor: Sickness called?
Me: What is name of sick?

And you all wonder why my English has gone to pot.

Then I find out that the name of sick is tonsillitis. Awesome. I haven’t had tonsillitis since my 19th birthday, but I recall it being one of the most miserable experiences of my life (clearly not as awful as mono, the 18th birthday gift from hell). So the doctor writes me a prescription to take downstairs to the pharmacy, where I pay 2,600 (TWO BUCKS) for antibiotics. Take that, Nekos Pharmacy, where I almost shelled out one hundred bucks over the summer for a week’s worth of antibiotics.

I spent the rest of the morning in bed watching the Academy Awards and patting myself on the back for watching more Oscar-nominated films during the past week than I had all year. Took a four-hour nap in the afternoon, woke up in time to grab some dinner at an Indian restaurant with friends. Oh yeah, by the way, I hadn’t eaten anything at all since the night before. That’s what happens when you can’t eat solid food and have run out of soup and LIVE IN KOREA WHERE THERE ARE NO PARENTS OR ROOMMATES TO TAKE CARE OF YOU. Right, yeah.

So today I definitely started reminiscing about my month-long flu-turned-bronchitis saga last February, which would have escalated to pneumonia had I not demanded that the health center give me the right medication. Before they got me on the right stuff, I was taking seven different drugs (one more than Heath Ledger when he died), including anti-nausea tablets that are usually given to cancer patients. By the way, none of those helped. Way to go, University of Maryland Health Center.

Wow, I forgot how bitter I was about that whole thing. Anyway, now I’m home, having eaten semi-solid dal makahni and ice cream. I didn’t eat a whole lot of it, but that’s what leftovers are for, right? My bum is rather sore and slightly bruised (that’s what she said), but hopefully will be better in the morning. I’ll be chugging water until I go to bed, in hopes that I wake up tomorrow in less pain than I did today.

Unsure if I’ll be going in to work tomorrow. I think I’ll play it by ear. Part of me really doesn’t want to miss another day, especially at the end of the month, when I can’t make it up. But another part of me knows how badly I need to get better, especially since I’m going on vacation in less than a week. So we’ll see. Only one thing is for certain at this point: Antibiotics give me crazy dreams, so I cannot wait to go to sleep tonight.

Advertisements