Well, I went to the ENT today… the Ear Nose and Throat specialist (이비인후과) at the nearby True Love Hospital (it probably sounds less weird in Korean as 참사랑병원) but anyway, I was corrected on a few things.
First, the condition afflicting me was not anything calling for antibiotics. It’s APT, which means Acute Pharyngeal (?) Tonsilitis. Which doesn’t, by the way, mean I need my tonsils out, not in this case anyway. The doc said this had been complicated by a case of Gingivitis; I asked him how that could happen, when I faithfully brush my teeth after meals (well, except sometimes I forget at lunch time and when we’re on the road), but he said it’s because of this wisdom that’s currently tooth coming in. He ruled out Mumps, which was really quite a relief; from the second he mentioned it could have been mumps I was a little scared.
Anyway, I got a shot of anti-inflammatories and painkillers in the bum and three days worth of oral medicine to take to mitigate the pain and swelling; the condition will take care of itself, we hope, and I am to return to the hospital on Tuesday afternoon. It cost me only W3,000 to visit (a little over three dollars Canadian) and my medication, for three days, cost me W1,500 (a little under two dollars) so I am not complaining. Best of all, I could speak in pidgin with the guy, using English medical terminology and Korean only for the rest of my sentence, such as, “그런데, 매일 이를 닦았으면, Gingivitis은 어떻게 있어요?” (That may be imperfect, but it’s me saying something roughly like, “But if I’ve brushed my teeth every day, how can I have Gingivitis?”
As an added bonus, when I went to the Pharmacy, the old guy working there was kind enough to correct my pronunciation on a word I consistently pronounce incorrectly. In Korea, “maybe” is “아마” or “아마도”. For some reason I always say this word with a short “a”, like in “cat”, but it should be said with a long “a”, which sound like the “o” in dog (the way I say it), or like that “aaaah” that the doctor asks you to say when he’s having a look around the inside of your mouth.
So, what do I take back? Well, two things:
- The complaint I had about not getting a full course of antibiotics for the tonsilitis. If the dentist whose prescription I got a few weeks ago was at all competent, he would merely have prescribed painkillers and anti-inflammation drugs, which means he would not have to prescribe more than a few days. Of course, I wish he’d been a little more competent and given me something for sanitizing my mouth a little more effectively, while the wisdom tooth is coming in. But he may not have been a total incomptent as I implied in my earlier post on the subject.
- Secondly, I wanted to post this positive experience in the hopes that it would show that not all of my experiences visiting a doctor in Korea are bad. It may seem that way from recent posts, but it’s not true. Some doctors know what they are doing, and do a good job, and are helpful. Not all, mind you, and I have met some real doozies of the incompetent or insensitive kind, or those who were more interested in money than in health. But there are those in Canada too. And in Korea, there are also some very good, helpful doctors, people who are patient and willing to explain something a few times to make sure the patient understands what’s wrong with him and what’s going on.
I still think the laws that govern prescriptions here are not sensible, not good for people or for the country, but thinking that is different from indicting a whole profession. I’m quite happy to have a positive experience to write about here.