Friday, January 21, 2011

Adventures in a Korean Hospital: Part 2 - Where I'm at

Let’s see… I checked-in on Thursday afternoon, and it’s now Saturday morning. It’s easy-ish to lose track of time here – despite the fact that everything is pretty regimented in terms of timing (meals and so-forth).

Anyway, I’m apparently going to be here for a while, so I thought I’d take a moment to comment on my surroundings.

Let me start with emergency here at the Eulji Medical Center. I suppose it’s not too much unlike other emergency places I’ve been to, but a few things stood-out as surprising – most notably, the dude who was situated in a bed across from mine and to the left, who was crouched down on his knees and had perhaps the largest eyes I’ve ever seen on a human being. I was apparently the most interesting thing to cross his path that day, so he naturally did what any other abnormally large-eyed man would do in my presence, and whipped-down his pants and whipped-out his John Thomas to evacuate into a bedpan in full view of the rest of the rather busy room while keeping his gigantic peepers on me the whole time. I kept Seong-sook’s eyes averted.

When we arrived at emergency, we entered the double-doors and found two middle-aged women pushing each other and very near blows. Security was there making sure things didn’t get out of hand, but they seemed to be handling it more like NHL referees, with a philosophy of “let them slug it out until they’re tired, and we’ll jump if one of them looks in danger of falling backward and hitting her head on the ice.” Turns out that they were family of two opposing cars involved in an accident. Two of the injured party were being treated while I waited there, so, between the hours of 11pm on Wednesday night and 3am on Thursday morning, I saw a dude with his face and leg smashed get wheeled to and from the emergency operating room, while family fought over the situation. Another woman had her head bandaged-up pretty badly, and based on the way the other family members were walking, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that everyone involved was completely drunk.

It was a pretty small room, and it was mostly open – even the door to the operating room was open, as I discovered when I made a trek to the only restroom and walked right by a wide-open door where I turned to see a team of doctors tossing bloody gauze into a bucket and a dude (Mr. Smashed Face & Knee) moaning away.

So, this reminded me of a couple of things: Emergency rooms are never pleasant places to be, and there are people much worse off than I am right now.

Sadly, and much to my frustration, the doctors at Emergency that night seemed to have no clue what to do about my ankle. Though we had phoned to make sure that the place could do the proper blood and ultrasound tests for DVT and Cellulitis before we left the apartment, when we got there, we were informed that the proper technicians wouldn’t be there until the morning. That’s a frustrating things to hear and I was mostly concerned with what I would be able to report back to my sister with. It’s hard when you have people at home waiting for answers and you’re not getting any to pass-on. They also kept telling me that my situation "wasn't an emergency" and kept asking why I was there. I kept thinking that they were lucky my sister wasn't there, as she would likely rip all of there throats out one-by-one like a scene out of Let the Right One In.

Anyway, back home for a bit of sleep, a quick trip to school to help set-up English Camp, then back to the hospital to check-in.

As we were told earlier, it was going to be hard to get a cheap room. Here at Eulji, as I imagine it is in other such hospitals, there is a wide range of rooms available, at least in terms of how many people will be staying in them. At the high end, for roughly 90-100 per night, are the rooms for one or two patients. Then, there are rooms for 5 people for 45 per night (where I spent my first night), and then on the most affordable end are the rooms for 7 people, for just over $10 per night and where I'll find myself for the remainder of my stay.

There are a lot of us crowded in here. Let me see if I can describe it accurately…
For each person’s “area”, there is a single bed, much thinner than a regular bed at home of course. I’m going to say it’s about a meter wide. We also have about two feet of “extra space to one side of our bed for visitors. On the other side of that two feet of space is another dude’s bed – divided only by a curtain. To tell the truth, it’s about as much space as I had in my capsule hotel in Tokyo, though this room is naturally taller to allow for doctors and IV towers to stand. It’s pretty much a normal room, but everyone is forced to be on VERY friendly terms with each other.

People fight tooth and nail to get into the cheaper rooms, and I think that me being a foreigner actually had something to do with me getting into one earlier. How are the cheaper rooms, well… let me get the shit out of the way first… in my previous room, I’m pretty sure there was actually a shit-smear on my wall, which the rabbit and I worked vigorously to clean-off. That made me a bit sad.

Upon moving into my new room, Seong-sook noticed a smell near my bed, so she looked underneath to find not one, two, or three, but 5 partially filled bed pans which had presumably landed with a sloshy dance on the floor. The nurses apologized profusely and fished them out one at a time. Apparently, the guy who lay here previous to me was a tad incontinent and his helper more than a tad lazy. Seong sook went directly to town on every conceivable surface – even in and out of drawers and cupboards – with some disinfectant moist tissues to clean things-up a bit.

What I’ve got is a cozy-ish bed, curtains, a chest of drawers/cupboard for my stuff, a nightlight, and outlets to charge all of my electronic goodies. I’m a pretty self-sufficient cat here, though it would be nice to have more space, if only because I feel badly for the rabbit or anyone else who comes to visit me. There is a roll-out raised-mattress/bench thing that comes out partially from under my bed, but that’s not a lot of space.

Anyway, the good news is that there is also a lot of good that comes with being in a room with many others. I’ll get to that in my next post. Also, I am so thankful for my kind rabbit.

Medical update: they really don’t want me to move, so they’ve casted both of my legs with half-way-around hard casts wrapped in tensor bandages. They are still thinking more toward Cellulitis and I’ll be having the ultrasound and now a “bone scan” on Monday. I get pills and antibiotic injections into my IV tube three times a day.

Next post: my neighbours, my visitors, and the food.

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