I started developing a terrible cold and sore throat last Thursday. By Friday, I could barely breathe or move and didn’t feel up to braving the below zero weather for a trek to the doctor’s office. Symptoms continued to worsen, especially after I played to gigs on Saturday night and didn’t rest much Sunday either. So after teaching my presentation class on Monday and eating some porridge with my coworkers (one just returning after a three month leave), I finally went to the doctor to get checked.
Last year when I worked in Godeok, there was this great doctor who had a small office, spoke fluent English and was very detailed about the source of my sickness and what each prescription drug would do. The office in Sinchon was quite different. There were a dozen other people waiting for care and none of the secretaries or doctors spoke a lick of English. I was able to tell them “목이 아파요”/My throat hurts, but that was about it. The secretary was a bit confused about my name. You see I had to wait 4 weeks for my University ID and they still spelled my name wrong! My family name reads 안토니오/Antonio, though my first name is spelled correct. She wrote this all out but just as quickly drew a line through it and wrote 닉 in blue marker and large lettering across the top. Somehow I got to go ahead of all the people waiting and was seen by the doctor about 2 minutes after entering the office.
He wasn’t one for small talk. So once I got my line out, he sprayed some antiseptic up my nose and down my throat, had me say AHHH a few times, scraped the back of the left side of my throat with some white stuff and jotted a prescription. All this in about the time it would take to read the previous sentence out loud slowly. Next I paid my fee, which came to 3,000 won ($3.15 on today’s market. I love my medical insurance!), and got a shot in the hip from one of the secretaries/nurses(?!?). Took my prescription to the pharmacy down on the first floor and was given a variety of pills and a bottle of green 가글/Korean transliteration of Gargle, though they’ve mistaken the act for the object. This came to 3,300 won.
It’s strange to be taking all these pills and not know what they are, but they basically one reduces swelling, one inhibits pain, one is a decongestant, and I’m guessing the last is ibuprofen. I tried to gargle the 가글 once, but all it did was numb my entire mouth for an hour with a lingering taste of cough syrup. I’m feeling better today, but the right side of my throat was in pain when I awoke (remember he only scraped the left side). I need to brush up on some medical terms before my next visit, or at least have someone right me a good note detailing my ailments. ^^