Extra pain in Korea :-(

Soooooo…I’m on a bad run of things at the moment healthwise. After my broken rib playing rugby exploits it turned out I had developed another injury that surfaced gradually over the two or so weeks since the event. Anyway a swift trip to the local hospital (they are everywhere it’s like the U.S.A. a money making private health insurance scam) it was determined I needed immediate surgery. Emergency would be exaggerating ; however it was something that was only going to get worse and could potentially be life threatening. (It involved a blood clot).
So on Saturday I entered hospital for what turned out to be a four day stay. I had needles jabbed in my spine numerous drugs continuously pumped into my body and a fan club of Korean nurses attending to my every need. I was like a special treat to them. One even came to say how much she would miss me after the end of the her shift knowing I was getting discarged before she was next in work.
Korean hospitals are interesting places:
1. It’s a family event.
In each ward every patient bed has a mini-bed underneath where someone can stay the night. And EVERY patient has someone stay the night. Usually the grandmother or wife; or the oldest son if it is the elderly member who is the patient. Day times are a visitor fest. It’s almost a day trip. The Korean family unit appears to be a very sacred national identity for the population. It is admirable and heart-warming to see. Everytime someone bought food or drink for their relative they would bring extra for the other patients in the room.
2. Eat your rice!
I didn’t eat rice once with my hospital meals. I like rice but not when I can’t burn it off. Too stodgy. This is treated with disbelief by the Ajumma’s who are staying with their relatives. On several occassions I was almost force fed. It must contain some magical recovery properties that I don’t know about.
3. Drip, drip, drip
You must have a drip and you must take it everywhere with you on a wheely hat stand. Even if you have a broken leg…you need a drip!
4. Urine levels should be monitored closely.
Are you weeing too much or too little. It must be known. Every patient has a flask. You must monitor and show the nurse everytime. Failure results in angry, suspicious nurses who disbelieve every stuttering word you say. “Erm 500ml ….maybe…I think…and yellow…sort of luminous”
5. Am I in E.R.?
Whilst waiting for an injection before the operation in a mahoosive ward I was told to go evacuate my bowels. I was on my own in the ward when I went in. Five minutes later I came out to see a man covered in monsoon soaked blood trying to be resuscitated. This was not E.R. it was just a standard ward. He died unfortunately. Right in front of me. Very sad and surreal moment.
6. Drugs.
The last two days have been like trainspotting for me. I feel like a heroin addict coming off the stuff. For such a minimally invasive surgery and for what is actually not a great deal of pain they gave me lots of drugs. My arse looks like a hedgehog has been shaved I have so many needle marks.

No complaints in general though. They do look after you in Korea and you don’t have to wait for 12 moths on a waiting list. You do have to pay but with medical insurance a four day stay was 400,000 won (£200). £50 a night! I’ve stayed in worse hotels and I know people who have paid more money for significantly worse drugs!

I’m back to school now. In all honesty health problems aside (self-inflicted as they maybe) I’m really enjoying my life. My job is really good still and I’m getting the hang of it. I think. I enjoy work. Such an odd sensation. My classroom control still leaves a lot to be desired though!

It’s Chuseok soon. (Korean 3-day harvest holiday) so I’m planning on some travelling and you will hear about it here first….oooo the excitement, tension and anticipation you must now be feeling!


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