Saturday, January 22, 2011

Adventures in a Korean Hospital: Part 4 - The Food

It's snowing today, so it makes the fact that I'm stuck in a hospital bed a little more palatable. Also, I received news via a text from Ian that the Flames went ahead of Vancouver on two quick goals. Nice - keeping the losing battle alive.

...and I see Vancouver just tied it up.

A true hurricane of a woman just stormed into our room while lunch was being served. I'm guessing she just came from church as she was done-up in her Sunday best. She announced her presence with a boom and pretty much hasn't stopped bellowing since. She appears to be part of Mr. John Thomas' family, guessing from the fact that she had no qualms about shedding her massive fur coat and laying it across his lap while he was trying to eat hospital food on the bed tray. She appears to have settled-in and she should be here for a while. Sigh...

Anyway, the food...

It's hospital food. Like most Korean meals, there are at least a couple of side dishes, rice, a soup, and some other random stuff (in my case, some kind of fish). The Staff have been very kind to me and have been going really out of their way to adjust dishes for a vegetarian. As it has been since I've come to Korea, I waver from time to time regarding the eating of seafood. I guess I need protein from somewhere, so, while I'm hospitalized, I figure that some fishy protein at each meal isn't a horrible idea.

All in all, it's not horrible. The soups are okay, and the rice is rice, and the side dishes are tolerable, although the kimchi is definitely on the lower end of the quality spectrum. As anyone who has eaten kimchi with regularity for a time would testify, there is good kimchi, and there is bad kimchi. The stuff served here is certainly the latter. It just tastes kind of synthetic, so I tend to avoid it. But for the most part, I'm eating all they give me. I should qualify my lukewarm endorsement by stating (rather obviously) that if you aren't already used to Korean food, the hospital food I've been eating since Thursday would be almost certainly inedible to anyone.

When it's time to eat, the curtains open-up and we all shuffle-down to the foot of our beds to where the lap table comes up. For some reason, the table isn't up toward the head of the bead where you might think it would be. Eating here is kind of a social thing and we all kind of nod at each other while we slurp our seaweed soup, watch Korean singing daytime TV, and take turns farting. I wouldn't want to be rude by leaving too much of my food uneaten. Visiting ajumas are kind enough to offer to remove my tray when I'm done, as it is a bit of a challenge for me to wobble down to the nurses' desk with an I.V. tower AND a tray of dishes while on two casts. I thank them with a tangerine and a smile.

As mentioned, the staff are also very kind. After my first Korean-style breakfast of a fishy soup, the dietitian came into the room to introduce herself and ask if I had any specific food requests. I replied that I don't need any milk to drink (I still take some in my coffee, but I can't remember the last time I drank a full glass or mini carton of milk), I won't eat any beef or pork, and that's pretty much it. She asked if I wanted a "Western-style" breakfast, and I asked what that meant. She replied: "Bread", so I naturally thought "toast". The following morning, breakfast arrived - two HUGE croissants with strawberry jam and a plate of French fries. Considering that I'm not moving much at all while I'm here, I'd really rather not flab-it-up with a bunch of baked and deep-fried starches. I ate one croissant and one cold and soggy fry, full of guilt as I know they made special arrangements for me, and called it a meal. The nurse asked why I didn't finish, and I replied that one croissant was more than enough, but excessive thanks for her kindness.

The next day, I was served a plate of 5 slices of white bread (with the crusts cut-off) which appeared to have been fried lightly in a pan. I think the assumption is that I'm a Burger King/Taco Bell fed American. So, I've been strategically eating and leaving in an attempt to get more veggies and fruit. So far, I've seen a slight increase in greens, and I'm sure that by the end of the week I'm going to have a veritable salad bar on my lap. I really do hate to complain, and I've made a point to not do any, but while I'm not using any calories, I'm going to watch my intake. Despite the fact that I'm no longer able to go to Thailand, I don't want to do too much damage to the severely ripped and cut beach body I've been working so hard on. I'm really bad at sarcasm.

Also, in relation to the food we've been eating, a nurse came into our room last night to ask all of the patients how many times we emptied our bowels today. I was on the lower end with 1, and Haliboji took first place with 4. Apparently, as the rabbit translated for me, Haliboji evacuated a lot with each bowel movement. So that's why everyone was audibly in awe at his response.

The hurricane woman just wandered over to my area, moved Seong-sook's umbrella and bag (she's not here right now) and deposited a bag of food garbage, a container of soup, and a random bag of who-knows-what on the window sill beside my bed. She looked at me the whole time she was doing it. Her husband voiced protests on my behalf but she waved them off. Classic.

5 comments:

Mr. Genius-Face said...

Does the guy with large eyes have a goiter? Man, and his wife or whatever...


I'm pullin' for ya, dude.

George Bailey Sees The World! said...

No goiter. Just a truly intense stare.

Andrew said...

Wow Dave. Hope you aren't in too much pain. Sounds like a bad situation you're in, but you're capturing it like a true journalist. The descriptions make me feel like I'm in there with you. We're thinking about you over here and hoping you get out soon.

George Bailey Sees The World! said...

Thanks, man. I'm getting a bit of cabin fever to tell you the truth, and the lack of privacy is the biggest pain in the ass. It's hard when you're not able to understand all of the doctors and nurses. Tests tomorrow and then I'll hopefully know more.

Dana said...

Hi Dave! Wow.....I spent a week in a hospital room with just one other patient and nearly lost my mind! I don't know how you are not only staying so sane, but so observant and humorous! I hope they cure you and send you on your way soon!