Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In Which My Severe Sickness Turns Out to Be Just Another Avenue for Me to Experience Something Culturally Relevant. And Terrifying.

Today, I was tired of pretending I am not sick. For those of you who know me, it takes a lot to get me to even take drugs for an illness let alone go all the way to the doctor. So when I tell you that today I took off to go to the hospital, you know it was serious business. To be fair, I got the impression that there is no such thing as a doctor's office here, its the pharmacy and then the hospital.

The other teacher were sick - but I don't think they were as bad as me. I felt like a wimp going to the doctor when they were all sick but I had a feeling they were just grousing more than they actually were in pain. Men are such babies about being sick. That's right, I said it. Wanna make something of it?

Anyway, the easiest thing for me to do - because I could only manage to get about four hours off and the allopathic ('allopathic' just means the treatment of illness using means that create opposite effects of the illness. i.e.: drugs, injections, etc.) hospital was about 40 minutes away - was go across the street to a Traditional Korean Medicine Hospital. Traditional Korean Medicine (hereafter referred to as TKM) involves things like noxious teas and - you guessed it - acupuncture.

For those of you who know my past with needles (had to be held down by MPs to get a blood sample when I was 11) you might think that I turned on my heel and started walking for the other hospital. But thats where you would be wrong! Because this intrepid traveler does not balk at mere physical discomfort! She revels in the cultural experience like her philosophical fore bearers: Boas, Meade, Malinowski*... maybe that last one wasn't such a good example but you get the idea.

So, I seized hold of the well used Anthropological theory - 'when in Rome...' - and I went into that office knowing full well what would happen. I was terrified spit less all the same. If I hadn't been shaking already from my fever I think the doctor would have noticed.

He had me lie down on a heated bed, took off my sock, and rolled up my pant leg. At this point I was reciting song lyrics in my head so I could ignore the fact that he was about to stick needles in me. And possibly set them on fire.

While I was trying to pretend I was watching a herd of wild ponies running free across the plain, he stuck a needle in my shin, in between my toes, in the side of my foot, in my index finger tip and in my thumb joint.

"Now just relax." he said like there was even a vague possibility of that actually happening. It was like he completely forgot he had just stuck five needles in me.

I sat there for about half an hour quietly going insane as I tried not to move any inch of my body.

Despite everything, the treatment did help - instantly my throat stopped hurting - and it only cost me $10 without insurance. He gave me this tea that makes me sweat and tastes like bile. My face is now bright red and I am supposed to wrap myself in blankets to aid the process. I am drinking sports drinks like it is my JOB.

Hopefully by morning this will all be a distant memory. Especially the part about the needles.

*For future reference, my friend Erin Woodell is to take possession of all my writing upon my death. Friends don't let friends publish posthumously.


  1. Man, hope you're feeling better...

  2. I hope you are feeling better sweetie. Acupuncture, wow, you are so brave.


  3. thanks for your concern guys! I'm feeling much better after spending a couple of really horrible days at work. Its the weekend so I'm resting up.