Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A real Korean cold

Pills, pills, and more pills: Korean-style.

This past weekend I went to Andong--enjoying a fairly relaxed Chuseok with Seungbo's family, checking out the famous Hanhoe folk village and eating some great Korean food. Of course, the weekend wasn't spent without a price; I got a bonafiedKorean cold. Now my pasttime has become sneezing, blowing my stuffy nose, and crunching wads of toilet paper in my pockets. Nice.

So yesterday I went to the doctor's to get checked out. The price was amazing--I got in, got out, AND got my antiobiotics in LESS than 20 minutes. Fast you say? Indeed. And it only cost me 15,000W. Now, to an American, that's absurdly cheap. Back in the states, I couldn't get INTO see the doctor for less than $100 in my present situation without insurance, and no less than 30 minutes just for waiting. I could safely say that Americans don't even THINK of visiting the doctor's WITHOUT health insurance unless they're on their near-death bed.

Seungbo tells me that when I get my insurance card from my boss, I'll be reimbursed 10,000 W for my doctor's visit. That means my doctor's visit would only cost me 3,000W verses 10,000, and my medicine merely 3,000W verses 5,000. I couldn't believe it, I was in awe!

But here in Korea, medicine is CHEAP! In fact, I'm told that Korea is number in the use and popularity of antiobiotics: what they call, the other once shot! (memories of one shot with Dong-Dong Ju is coming back to me now..) The other day, Seungbo tells me he went to the doctor's to get a shot because he wasn't feeling too well. I thought, What do they put in those shots? And where can *I* get one?

I seriously thought that I would get a shot when I visited the doctor's. However, the Doc said that I probably don't need one, even after asking me my surgery history, any alergies that I may have, and inquiring into my general health background. Supposedly Koreans think Americans are 'alergic to everything' so it was safer to just give me antiobiotics instead of risking giving me a shot and there being a possibility that I would be allergic to something in it. But I'm not allergic to anything!! So what is IN these shots anyway?? Antiobiotics. Alright, so I'm taking them in pill forms, 3 times a day for 3 days. But isn't it faster to just get the shot? I could really do for a little pain in the bum for feeling better a little quicker.

The answer is Yes and No. If I have a cold, or the flu (symptoms of both), it's no doubt a viral infection. The deal is, you can only get rid of a bacterial infection through antiobiotics. So why take antiobiotics for a viral infection if it won't work?? I have no clue; they just take the medicine here and don't ask. That's a question I still have left to answer.

In the meantime, I'll be drinking lots of water, struggling with a horse voice teaching my classes while my students think I've undergone a sex-change, and yes---popping my new Korean pills. I've got to get over this Korean cold!


spark said...

As I will be travelling there in Oct. I have been reading up on H5N1 - the avian flu, I have heard that it is in Korea as well.

Is there much press about this there?


Chelsea said...

Spark--that's funny you mentioned that. I questioned about a dozen people about that before I came over; it's really a rare case to come in contact with Avian influenza. You just take precaution, as anyone should do. Eating is not a problem either--you can eat out anywhere, get's just like home in that market. South Korea is definitely developed, and if there's any problem in that arena, the medicine is surely cheap enough to solve the problem!

spark said...

Sometimes I 'over research'.

*spark - has a drink an chills.

thanks for the information.