Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Huh?...What?...Speak into my good ear please!"

The following is my attemp to describe my medical experiences over the past week in a land where the medical care system is slightly different than what most people viewing this blog are used to in the USA. In the words of author Emerson Eggerichs... "It's not wrong.... just different." Some people might ask why I would write about this. Well, I'm just trying to share a little part of our lives with you so that you can have just a peek at some of the cultural differences we live with everyday. And it's all GOOD!

So here goes:

I think the last time I had an ear ache was when I was 10 years old. My only vague memory of it was of my mom holding a blow dryer up to my ear in the middle of the night to relieve the pain. Well, apparently 28 year olds can randomly get ear infections too! And boy can they be painful!

It all starts a week ago Thursday. That day I woke up with a burning sore throat. You know, the kind that you always have on the 1st day of a developing cold. But the next day, it stayed the same and did not move into my sinuses. Friday and Saturday I spent all day outside at a soccer tournament and was thankfully temporarily distracted from how swollen my throat was and how much my neck hurt. Then within an hour of getting home on Saturday night I was talking to my Mom on the phone about possibly having Strep Throat and I remember saying, "Ooh, I just had a sharp pain in my ear. That was weird." Then within another hour as Eric and I were watching TV and falling asleep from an exhausting weekend, I remember turning to him and laughingly saying that my ear all of the sudden had become plugged. Well, we fell asleep in the living room and when I got up at midnight I had to take some pain reliever because my ear was starting to hurt. I went to the bedroom to sleep and when I woke up at 1:30, my ear had piercing pain that just kept getting worse and worse. It was so bad that it kept me up crying off and on for the rest of the night. I think Eric thought I was having a melt-down or something. That morning was Sunday and neither of us really knew if any Doctor would be open. Then we remembered that Good Morning Hospital in Pyongtaek had an ER. So at around 9 or 10am we got in the van (because our car wouldn't start) and headed for Pyongtaek (which is about 25 minutes away). By this time my ear had started crackling and draining a little but still hurt pretty bad. (By the way... sorry Mom, but the blow dryer in the ear thing... didn't work.)

So we arrived at the ER and walk up to the counter and the lady said in very broken English to write down my name, birthday, and cell phone number. That's it! All the medical paperwork and idenification needed. I LIKE it!

We sat down and waited about 10 minutes then we were called back into a room that had a lot of cots with people on them and some nurses. There was a doctor sitting at a desk and I was directed to sit down next him. He asked (in slightly better English than the desk lady) what my problem was. I told him my ear hurt. He looked in it and told me something that is now really funny to look back on. He said, "We will give you a shot for the pain in the buttocks and 1 day's medicine. Then come back tomorrow." Ok, so I did NOT want a shot in the butt. But eventually they talked me into it and we left $62 later with 1 days worth of medicine. (Mystery medicine I might add. Everything is written in Korean so you never know what you get but they always give you lots of pills in each pouch!) As much as I originally thought the trip was worthless, very soon the shot began to work and my throbbing pain in my ear died down. It was a sweet day of rest where all we did was lay around and sleep/watch TV.

So that was part 1 of the Doctor's experience. The next day after school (with my ear feeling much better but at the same time completely blocked and still a little painful and draining a LOT), Eric took me to a different ENT Doctor that he'd been to before in Songtan (where we live). He told me to be prepared to "get owned." Which in his terms means it really hurts! So again we walked into the little clinic and I registered with my name, birthday and phone number and waited to be called. Then they called me back into the doctor's office where the examining chair is right there! So he wheels over and asks (in pretty good Korean-English) what my problem was. I said my ear hurt and so he got out this little camera thing he looked in my ear with. The 1st thing he said was, "Oh!" Then he proceeded to stick many things into my ear and I assume medicate it a little. But nothing hurt too bad. (to my great relief). He then looked in my throat and then stuck these suctiony tubey things all the way down my nose to my throat. That was weird. His final verdict to me was that my throat infection (he told me "throat injection" but I knew he meant infection) had caused my ear infection and that he would give me 3 days of medication and then "Come back 3 days."

The walk-in appointment cost up about $13 and then we took the prescription downstairs to the pharmacy and the 3 days worth of medicine, in individual packets for taking them 3 times a day, also cost around $11. (All of this is without insurance so it is a little higher priced than normal. The Korean medical system is subsidized by the governement so it doesn't cost much. Yay!)

So I have taken all the medicine for the 3 days and we went back to him today for a check-up. Still can't hear and have mild pain. This time, however, I wasn't expecting pain but he sure did root around in my ear and it HURT! Lots of suctioning and swabbing but in the end he said I looked better than last time. There is still some inflamation but the massive drainage is stopping. Then he gave me a prescription for 4 days more of medication and then said, "Come back again Monday." So... here we are again. I will take the medicine and then go back again for some more rooting around and probably 3 more days meds and another check-up to be all cleared.

Ok, so I know that this massively long story isn't really Spiritual or greatly inspiring. But, I guess if it was me and our situations were reversed, I would find it interesting to compare all the little differences in something as simple as going to the Doctor for an ear ache. So for now, I will just say that I am getting better and I will leave you with a picture of the 4 day's set of meds he gave me this time. Ahhh, Korea!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My Husband the Baseball Lover

So today after our having coached a couple of tough soccer matches in the morning, Eric and I were dropping one of the vans off at the school and Eric wanted to see if anyone happened to be playing baseball up on the soccer field close to the school. (We had played our soccer games elsewhere). Before I could even get up to the field Eric was warming up with a company team of Korean men who were about to play a full 9 inning game against another Korean team! I was a little shocked that they let him play. They even had uniforms and all! But knowing the Korean mindset of hospitality I should have known they'd let him play. There is a saying that you can never out-give a Korean. So, they let him play. He ended up batting several times and even getting to play 3rd base for 3 innings. He did pretty well and needless to say, LOVED the afternoon! I was able to snap a few shots of him playing. They even took a team photo at the end of the game and asked him to join him! They kind of got a kick out of having him on their team. So anyway... here are a few of the pictures I took. Enjoy!

Forgot to post this last Sunday

Here is the link to the sermon Eric preached last Sunday as a guest speaker at church. Better late than never!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Easter and Spring Break

Happy Easter Everyone! I know this is a week late, but with all of our "Free" time this week during our Spring Break, still haven't been able to get around to blogging until now. Sorry! We've had a great week of relaxing and getting several things done around the house that we just haven't had time to do before. There are a few things I've been able to take pictures of this week. The 1st is of my 5th graders doing their annual Easter Egg dying experiment. Even though over half of our eggs began as brown eggs, the kids still had a lot of fun doing this American tradition at Easter. And... the eggs turned out pretty good! This is Eric and I walking to church on Easter Sunday heading to the sunrise service. For those interested, you can see our house on the left behind my head. We live in the 2nd floor of that tall brick house. We've been able to catch up on tasks like cleaning, putting some pictures up on the walls, lesson plans, buying our tickets home for the summer, catching up with friends and family on the phone, getting haircuts, doing some paperwork to renew our teaching licenses, doing laundry, going to Costco and HomePlus to buy food, doing our taxes (soon), watching some TV, and playing cards with friends. Also, last night I was able to have some of my soccer girls over for dinner and some hang out time. We ended up playing games and had a great time. Here are a few pictures of the evening.