I always find dealing with doctors stressful. I feel like its a battle; the Orwellian medical institution on one side trying to deny treatment and get me to bugger off and me on the other trying to persuade them of what I actually need. I'm sure most people from the UK will have some simular experience. A friend of mine recently turned to the dark side of medicine and went private to get his knee fixed. This brings me nicely to why I had to go see the doctor; for some time I'd been in manly denial about my knee getting more and more painful. I finally took notice properly when I went for a walk on the beach and it hurt. 
On arriving in Korea I found out that I had to wait to get something called an Alien Registration Card (ARC) before I could get medical treatment as my medical insurance was tied up with it. After three weeks with my card finally in hand I was ready to go to the doctors, but I was completely without a clue as to how to go about it. I was pretty convinced that this was just their first line of defence. Fortunately I was helped by the generous Amy one of the Korean teachers at the school where I work. In five short minutes she had called and booked an appointment for me.  
I arrived at the Now Hospital in Bundang and went up to the 5th floor, walked straight up to the desk, and completely missed the ticket based waiting system while getting evil looks from those waiting. Lesson learnt, there is always a ticket waiting system in Korea, banks, doctors, chemists . . . just about anywhere they can fit one it. Maybe only the British understand queuing, or not in my case.
 When the nurses called people's names that did that thing that nurses do of making every name sound the same. Now while this can be annoying in your own country it's completely confusing in another. Luckily I was the only Waygood (foreigner) in the room so the nurses recognised my name as foreign and waved me over. It was clearly time to line up the troops, the battle was nearing.

I was given a dazzling pair of pink shorts to wear for the examination, was this a ploy by the enemy to throw me off my game? After another wait in the examination room the doctor walked in and I prepared myself for the usual battle. As he moved my knee around and I prepared my plans. After the examination he said "You lee have inflammation joint"; this is good I thought as I was suspecting cartilage damage. The next thought through my head was "what makes him so sure, maybe this is the Korean doctors way of the treatment denial". I asked "why you think inflammation and not cartilage damage?" He went on to explain "with cartilage damage you have less movement but with inflammation you have pain with movement, you have movement." 

After twenty minutes of explanation, and many hand gestures, I understood that I had to take three tablets a day, use a hot pack for twenty minutes and do twenty minutes of exercises to strengthen the muscles. I left 9000 won ($9) lighter wondering if there had really been a battle and if I had won or lost.    
Tom Galer
5/6/2013 07:11:38 pm

Cracking pink shorts - keep them, I thought that was your new style, nice odd socks too!


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