Going to the doctor in Korea always seems like a really daunting feat. You have to explain everything to the receptionists, try to talk to the doctor and then hope that you have made yourself clear enough to receive the right treatment. I Not to mention finding a time when you can actually get there is often tricky. Most schools can be sticklers for missing classes and you do need to get assertive if a trip to the doctors is important. I managed to sort out my ankle yesterday by following these tips.
Ask your teachers if they know of a doctor in the area, preferably one who speaks English. This lets them know that you are unwell, but they will appreciate your trying see someone on your own. My school told me of one across the road and I tried to visit… only to be turned away by the receptionists who panicked when they saw me.
One option is to ask your school to ring the doctor to let them know you are coming in. All they need to see is your alien card to copy down your name and number, there really isn’t a lot of conversation. Most doctors know a bit of English so the rest of the visit would be okay, plus you can look up key translations to let them know what’s wrong.
Afterwards you will be given a piece of paper by the medical staff that you take to the pharmacy for the meds. These are always cheap and come already divided up for you into small bags. The pharmacists can usually tell you how many times a day to take them, but if you then it will be on the packet.
If things are bad and you can’t mange to get through the visit on your own then suck up to a co-teacher and find a time when it suits them. I know that being in a strange country you feel like they should be helping you out, but at the end of the day they are busy people to and taking a foreigner to a doctors is inconvenient. I got lucky as yesterday we had the morning off and the work receptionist said she would take me. I did ask her on Wednesday if she knew of a doctor and tried to go but they were not having a bar of me and just pushed me out the door. We went back and the reception added me into the computer so that in the future I can visit without any problems.
The doctors was…. weird…. First off he sat in this big office and spoke into a microphone, even though I was sitting right in front of him. I asked my Korean escort and she told me that this was not usual. After an x-ray I was happily informed that my ankle is not fractured or anything serious!
It is a really old injury which he said didn’t heal right and is just flaring up. So I was given anti-inflammatory pills, a wrap and told to go upstairs for electronic therapy… I have never heard of this but apparently it is very popular in Korea. I was sent into a huge room full of beds, told to lie down and then had suction cups placed all over my ankle. These were attached to an electric machine that soon began pulsating electricity through my leg. It was super weird.
The red light is apparently extremely important in the healing process.
I can’t describe how relieved I am to know that no serious damage was done. After putting off getting this looked at for so long, I feel like an idiot for being intimidated by visiting the doctors in Korea. Being a foreigner is always challenging, but usually these things aren’t that scary when we actually go through with them. Plus the whole thing cost me 9,000 won (about 10bucks), even with the x-rays! If that isn’t incentive to see the doctors I don’t know what is.