Korean Love Story #3: Asian Sick Masks & Getting Sick in Korea

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My Love Story Face mask #3:  Lucky Lucy

Apparently I haven’t picked up the Korean bug yet; I’m on cold #5?.. I think. I lost count after number three. Life sure surprises you when you live abroad. To commemorate this sick day occasion, I have a new face mask. I actually picked this face mask up in Saigon, while traveling Vietnam this past summer.

Going to the “Korean hospital”

So far, my Korean love story seems to be the fact I’m visiting the Korean hospital again. Just a refresher, but the term “Korean hospital” is sometimes refers to “going to the doctor”. Don’t ask why…doctor means doctor and there is an actual hospital. But that’s just the Konglish that’s commonly used between Koreans and expats.

Using Asian Sick Masks

Face masks there aren’t only for the sick or for protection from yellow dust pollution, but it’s a part of the daily motorist wardrobe in places like Vietnam or Nepal. The Vietnamese mask is a little bigger than my Korean mask, but that doesn’t mean the spaciousness adds comfort.  I discovered, I can’t run with this mask on– whenever I breathe in hard, the mask sucks to my face! It’s actually a bit of a pain.  However, it’s brilliant for shielding me from the winter cold in Korea.

Taking my first sick leave day and getting co-teacher house calls 

The last time I had a cold, I didn’t take any day off for rest. Thus, my cold lasted over 3 weeks which equated in irritated voice loss. This time, I took the sick day. As I don’t have my school office’s number (neither does my co-teacher ?),  I text and emailed my co-teacher to tell her I wouldn’t be coming in; then I just slept.

Just as I heard about Korean co-teachers making house calls on NETs when they got sick, two of my co-teachers followed suit. I scrambled to clean up. I was secretly happy. As a single person, I’m often the only person who must care for myself. Protocol or not, their concern was appreciated. They treated me to real Korean concern and brought a bag of goodies for the sick.


Getting Sick in Korea

A Korean doctor’s common prescription for ailments is ….two shots in the butt. It’s a mystery as to what’s in that shot but many of us think it has to be vitamin C or some immunity booster. You feel a little better afterwards.

I love my neighborhood of Singi-dong — everything is so convenient and the “hospital” (aka the doctor) is almost literally around the corner.  Both of my co-teachers accompanied me to the hospital near my apartment and sat with me in the waiting room, until we heard the computerized announcement: Ku-ri-su-tee-nu. 5 syllables! That’s a mouthful for Koreans, whose first (and middle) and last names sum a total of 3 syllables (i.e. Lee, Hyeon Min or Kim, Jee Yeong, or Pak, Soo Min).

My favorite co-teacher (let’s just call her Jee) accompanied me into the doctor’s office to translate. My doctor was the kind doctor who didn’t charge me on my last visit. The doctor listened to my symptoms as Jee translated for me; at times, he spoke English to me. He had me stick out my tongue and then prescribed…

You will need to get two shots in the butt.

Yup, that’s the recommendation and the recommended dose.

This what most visiting the hospital get. Some say it’s a shot of vitamin C. I wouldn’t know. I  just bend over and take it as well as I can.

He looked very grave as if he were expecting me to go into anxiety attacks. No anxieties– those shots are like pin pricks.

Remember this sweet nurse from my Love Story #2 ?

Again, this time my doctor’s visit : Free.

Due to the fact I was a foreigner and that he has a belief that sometimes with foreigners that you help out might some day do great things for the country. Or maybe I’ve got a good Korean health insurance plan. 

Korean medicine: How many pills are in that 3-day multi-medicine pack?

There are two things I’ve noticed about Korean medicine.

1) Your prescription never comes in just one pill.
2) You only ever get a three-day supply.

I’m not sure if doctors are overly-confident of what they prescribe or if it’s the possible fact, that if the medication doesn’t cure in three days it signals your cold will only get worse and you should return for another visit.

Either way, it was effective. Between the medicine and the rest I got, I kicked my cold just before day #3.

Have you been to the Korean hospital yet?
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3 Comments. Leave new

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Laura in Cancun
November 1, 2010 4:33 pm

A 3-day cold? Lucky you! haha This doctor’s office sounds awesome!

Reply

That is so sweet that they came over to look in on you while you were sick and accompany you to the doctor! That’s one of the biggest pains of being single/living alone is not having anyone around to take care of you when you’re sick. Love your sick mask, btw. Much cuter than a traditional antiseptic white. 🙂

Reply

    @Gray: I agree, encountering ill health is definitely one of the biggest pains of solo living & traveling. AS for my sick mask– thanks. I actually have an antiseptic white one that I came over with…pre-Korea-cold. 😉

    Reply

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