Monday, January 24, 2011

Adventures in a Korean Hospital: Part 6 - Visitors

Now that there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, I’m doing my best to look forward to a few days of teaching next week. I do wonder though if I’ll be excused from my suggested duties. Truly, I do have 6 sick days remaining that I can take this year. I might be tempted. I had this weird pride thing that up until this past July, I hadn’t yet taken a sick day during my time in Korea. This past summer, I took one day for sun stroke-induced fever (it was an exam day when I didn’t actually have to teach), and then the big collapse of last week. I say screw it – next week’s classes are going to be filler – though the winter break continues for another month, there are four days inserted into the middle of the holiday for seemingly two purposes:

1) Middle School grade 3 (grade 9 in Canada) graduation – a noble exercise, though one that should maybe be celebrated at the end of the students’ last semester, as opposed to shoe-horned into their vacation.

2) “Regular Classes” (in the loosest possible sense of the word) for one week for all three grades in an attempt to placate parents who are less-than-pleased with teachers having a regular school break. We wouldn’t want teachers to seem lazy, would we? Of course not – let’s get back to work. These “lessons” usually end-up being video viewing sessions, but if my presence is required, as per usual, I’ll try to whip-up a fun and interactive lesson just so that at least I am entertained.

Anyway, I guess I’ll find out the week’s plan soon enough.

About my ankle – it looks fairly normal though there is some obvious muscle atrophy in my calf. Though I was forcing myself to walk for three weeks, I wasn’t using the normal muscles required because my Cellulitis just wouldn’t share. So – that would be why I ended-up at the chiropractor. Looking at my ankles, you can see some darker areas which were once red. Under the outer layer of skin, these areas are as hard as bone, and then the muscle/ligament suddenly softens-up once you cross-over into the unaffected area. This is apparently a result of the once-swollen and stressed tissue now shrinking and withdrawing into itself. It’s going to take some time to get back to normal, but I’m really hoping that I am prescribed some walking and some stretching. I’m tired of this bed rest non-action.

Today, a word about visitors. It seems as though these hospital rooms are as much for visitors as they are for the actual patients. On the one hand, it’s lovely that everyone here (even Haliboji) has someone who can be here to assist with the day-to-day that has suddenly become a challenge. On the other hand, well, there are a lot of unpleasant things on the other hand.

For one: people seem to have a really hard time shutting up. I understand that there are things on the mind, but in such close quarters, it’s not always necessary to loose them on the world. Last night, my immediate neighbour’s wife visited for the first time. She made Hurricane Church Lady from a couple of days ago seem positively mousey. She came into the room at around 8:30pm – and stayed until about 11:00 (90 minutes past the visiting limit). This, I wouldn’t really mind – she is his wife and all, and people can spend the night (if they are quiet), but she came-in, kicked-off her shoes, hopped onto his bed with a giant bag of cookies (displacing her in-firmed husband to the side) and continued to cackle and roar with Haliboji’s ajuma longer into the night. You should have seen the rabbit’s face, which was safely hidden behind our drawn curtain.

It appears that Mr. John Thomas and his live-in father with be leaving today as well. This pleases me. This be the Thomas clan of the food garbage and soup bags left by my bed. Today, John Thomas, having partially finished with his tray of breakfast, decided to lope his way over to my corner of the world, slide my temporarily removed splints out of the way, and place the tray right beside the foot of my bed on the windowsill – an act actually more challenging than bringing it back to the kitchen cart in the hallway. No, he was not trying to be kind by offering me to finish his food. If he had, he could have placed it on my table.

JT's father, too, seems to have taken to regular abuse of the nurses. He seems to disagree with everything and appears to have no qualms about violently complaining about his food. Dude is awoken (as we all are) every morning at 6:00 am (if not before for injections) and he announces the dawn with prolonged and amplified audible stretching, which sounds kind of like this. Every sip of water, bite of food, or slight movement of the hand seems to be validated only by a deep sigh or murmur from within. Seriously, man – you may as well check yourself in and see what ails you.

I just don’t get it, and I don’t think it’s a Korean thing, so much as it is a generational thing, or perhaps an up-bringing thing. I am clearly the youngest one here, but all of the visitors I’ve had have been so comparatively polite and respectful. They arrive and greet me, and usually bring some kind of sharable treat which they offer around the room before joining me at bedside for a short visit. When the rabbit does stay-over, she does so with reverence for the fact that people who stay in this room are suffering enough, without having to listen to the constant braying of others. I do get the fellowship and the sounds of chatter can also be therapeutic for some, but for others, well damn, man. Respect that fact that you are not the only ones crammed into these less-than-perfect living conditions and act accordingly.I'm not the only one thinking this way. It appears that a couple of ajumas are not far from forming a violent pact for the sole purpose of retribution against Tarzan and his overinflated sense of entitlement.

My visitors so far:

Thursday: Maria

Friday: Ed, Jisun (Ed’s co-teacher), and Jessie (the Korean co-teacher from the school I partner with for English camps)

Saturday: Chloe, and Lee Su-hyeon (English co-teachers form my school)

Sunday: Ed and Maria

Monday: Test Day

Today: Ian, followed by my school principal and a handful of other teachers

…and every day, and some nights, the rabbit. I can’t express how amazing she has been for me. I know it’s hard for her as she inexplicably feels somewhat responsible for not bringing me to the right doctor sooner. When my sister diagnosed my condition over the internet, the rabbit was filled with guilt and it’s been tough to convince her that she shouldn’t be. Neither of us are doctors and she had gone out of her way to seek-out various forms of treatment – not an easy thing to do with her busy schedule, and whenever she’s here, she respectfully makes inquiries for details from each doctor and nurse that she encounters. Each night she stays either until she has to leave to get home for early work the next morning, or she bundles-up in my clothes on a mildly-padded bench beside my bed and goes to sleep holding my hand. She’s an emotional girl and there have been times where I’ve seen her tears just before sleep. When I inquire as to why, her only response is “your leg…”. She’s also not afraid to show-up and force me out of a funk by playing a game, looking at photos, making me extra healthy treats, or telling me to stop being so gloomy at times. Aside from the tears, we always say goodbye or go to sleep quietly giggling – usually in response to the other sounds in the room. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

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