Monday, January 24, 2011

Adventures in a Korean Hospital: Part 5 - Test Day

***Spoiler Alert for the Family Back Home: I Don’t Have Deep Vein Thrombosis***

It’s 6:19pm and everyone in the room has their gaze fixed firmly on WWE Raw. I used to watch wrestling back before I figured out it was fake, and I wonder what the Koreans make of it. UFC is big here – or was when Choi Hong Man, the giant Korean bruiser was actually winning the odd bout.

I’m a little sad today to note that my favourite room mate has up and left. He looked to be in decent spirits the last time I saw him, despite the fact that he resembles this guy, or this guy’s dad. It’s actually because of his turtle-like appearance that he so endeared himself to me. He could away be counted-upon to give a smile, and his wife (who was always by his side) was always offering to take-away my meal trays after I was finished, even if it was sometimes so that she could finish-off whatever was left. Truth is, I’m probably going to look a lot like that guy when I’m his age, and I can only hope I’m as cute. It’s about all I’ll have going for me.

Today was a frustrating day. I had leaky I.V. arm all day, and the little bitty that goes into my arm had to be replaced and relocated 6 times – not counting the time when I had to have some funky liquid pumped into my arm in order to aid with the bone scan visuals. That’s always disappointing when the juice starts leaking out of your arm and blending with the blood to make an orange mess. It seems fine now though and I couldn’t be more grateful. I still have a syringe full of antibiotics pumped into my arm 3 times each day, and without the I.V., it would be a house-call of pain knocking every 8 hours. With the I.V. however, they just open up this zany valve half-way up the hose and pump it in there. It feels mildly irritating – cold and warm at the same time (like a shot of vodka, I suppose) as it makes its way through the veins in my arm. It’s much better this way.

Anyway, today was the big test day. Since last Wednesday night at about 11pm, what I’ve wanted most in the world has been an ultrasound on my leg to look for blood clots so that, if they are found, doctors could do whatever it is doctors do to make sure said clots don’t find their way to my heart or lungs. Today, I finally had that chance.
But first: the bone scan! One of the doctors who appears at the foot of my bed each day, followed by a team of white coats, told me yesterday that he wanted to do a “bone scan” to make sure that the Cellulitis (which is what I had) hadn’t gotten too friendly with the leg bone connected to the ankle bone. Twice today I was wheeled down to the dark places where people lay on slabs and get popped slowly in and out of the big machine like a personal pan pizza. Results were apparently good. No bone infections here.

The ultrasound was a bit of a piss-off. As mentioned, I had really been looking forward to this one – not because I like middle-aged men of any ethnicity rubbing cold jelly on my inner thigh, but because it was the test that would let my family sleep after being scared for my imminent death since the middle of last week. I was wheeled down and introduced to a female nurse who spoke to me using fairly decent English. She informed me that she would be translating for me and led me into the room. The male technician then asked me in Korean what my problem was. He really seemed to have no idea as he signaled “Broken?” with body language. Ummm… did he not get the memo? I have to say, I thought it was normal practice for hospitals to provide necessary information to each technician, nurse, doctor, and orderly that deals with a patient. How could this guy running my favourite test not know why I was there? Anyway, he ran the test in about a minute – on only my left leg. The English-speaking nurse, apparently frozen in a state of Korean deference to her male superior, didn’t translate for me when I asked why he wasn’t scanning the other leg. I left there confused and frustrated, and it wasn’t until my regular doctor, (Mr. Kim) spoke to me in the afternoon that I was at all confident that anything today had gone according to plan. Even the bone scan had its complications regarding the juice I’m supposed to get shot-up with before-hand, but the story is too tedious to relate here.

Anyway, at the end of the day, it appears as though I’ll be leaving here at the end of the week. It was Cellulitis after-all, for those keeping score at home, and it did a fair bit of damage to me legs as I hobbled around to and from work for nearly 3 weeks while other apparently less-informed doctors told me it was a mild sprain and threw various colored pills at me. Hey, I’m not a doctor, but then again I’m also not getting paid like one. If I were, I would like to think that I would recognize a fairly serious skin and muscle condition, as well as symptoms for a potentially fatal cardio-pulmonary blockage. For real, people.

Anyway, it looks like another 4 days of rest and antibiotic shots 3 times a day at the hospital. For those who know what this means, my Wednesday night emergency C-Reactive Protein blood test was 2.4 (likely lessened by the pills I’d already been given by Dr. Random and Dr. Shot-in-the-Dark) and today’s test was a 0.5. The normal range is 0 – 0.3.

Well, it’s getting late, but the TV appears to be far from off. The ajuma taking care of Haliboji is softly humming-along to traditional Korean songs being sung on what must be the peninsular equivalent of the Lawrence Welk Show. Tomorrow I’ll try to write more. This is going to cost me a fair amount of money by the way – likely over $1000 – and that’s with my insurance taking care of a great deal of it. These tests aren’t cheap and insurance doesn’t ease those at all. Good times. Medical care is great in Korea if all your body requires is attention from a clinic-dwelling blindfolded knife-thrower, but for anything else, you will pay. Missing Canada when I hear this news. My refund for the Thailand ticket had better go through. One step closer to student loans.


Tuttle said...

1) What? Rasslin' is fake?!?
2) The only positive about being cooped up with the Korean Mitch McConnell is you can't talk politics with him.
3) Sounds like you're on the mend, at least.
4) Am I confused or does cellulitis sound like you have flabby ankles?
5) Was there any suggestion about what you can do to prevent this in the future? I'm just asking because I feel Cellulitis coming on and want to know what I can do.

Anonymous said...

Well shoot. There's nothing quite as shitty as knowing what you need done, and having doctors laugh at your supposed naivety in a foreign language for no good reason.

Don't worry, Dave. Thailand will still be there when you have the money again.

George Bailey Sees The World! said...

No real information yet as to what I can do from this point to aid in continued healing or to avoid these symptoms in the future. I suppose that happens at the exit interview.

As for Thailand, I'm bummed I can't go. White sand and blue water was looking mighty inviting after 3 extra painful weeks of winter English Camp.