(UPDATE: I got a detail wrong. Just saying. Something’s been edited.)
For lunch today, she had a very unusual, and inexplicable, urge to eat cheap, studenty-food. You know the kind of place — fifty things on the menu, terrible spaghetti, donkatseu, all that stuff. So after she finished work at the hospital, she stopped in at a place like that and ordered her lunch, reading a comic book while eating it.
A couple of teenaged girls came in, and ordered their food, and then, suddenly, bang, one of them flopped down onto the group. When Lime noticed, she realized the kid was having a seizure. Everyone in the place was panicked, so she hurried over, checked the girl, and fended off the few people who figured they knew what to do — “Back off! I’m a doctor! Move these tables! Give her some room!”– and the, when the girl became lucid again, asked her whether she knew her name, knew where she was, and so on.
The girl seemed okay, but Lime told her to go to the hospital right away. “No, don’t finish you lunch, go to the hospital now,” she told them. But the girls, rather foolishly, stayed and ate a little more [apparently the afflicted girl didn’t eat any more], and before too long, the same girl went into a second seizure. This time, her heart had stopped, so Lime did CPR on her, and got her heart beating again, while the restaurant owners called 119 (for those outside of Korea, that’s “911”). Pretty soon, all the customers — most of whom had hung back in shock anyway — had lost their appetites and left.
“I guess I’ve watched E.R. too much,” Lime said to me afterward, with a sigh. “I expected the ambulance guys to come with oxygen, you know, and I was telling them what was going on. They weren’t really listening to me. I guess in Korea ambulances really are just a form of transportation to the hospital.”
Lime’s rough guess is that it was some kind of malformation in the girl’s brain, like a brain aneurysm, that suddenly gave way and the girl was probably hemorrhaging when she was awake the first time, before the second seizure. They call that a “lucid period,” and the seizure that follows usually puts you into a coma, one you may never wake up from. But she might be okay. She might be okay someday, anyway.
Poor kid. Should have left the $3 spaghetti behind, caught a cab to the nearest hospital (a few minutes away) and gotten taken care of immedidately. Who knows if it would have helped — sometimes this kind of thing can happen in a hospital, and it still doesn’t help — but I’m sure it would have been better than staying with her lunch.
One thing I’m glad of, though, is that Lime was anonymous in this situation — not that the ambulance operators were listening or asking for her name, but still: Korea has no Good Samaritan Law, so if you help someone in a situation like this (where the best help still can’t fend off a great deal of unpleasantness) and the person dies, the grief-stricken, potentially ignorant family could well dreag you into a stupid, pointless court case. Heaven knows some people cannot live without inflicting drama upon the lives of others.