Athlete’s Foot, My Past Life, and I Look Chinese?

Somewhere along the way — probably in Japan — I picked this up, but it didn’t flare until a week ago. It’s been a busy week, so it took until yesterday to get to the doctor’s office. I suppose there might be a cream I could get over the counter, but I don’t know what to ask for and anyway, he is a good guy, and it doesn’t cost much to visit, so I dropped in to see my regular dermatologist.

Dermatologist and urologist, actually. He does both, and this has indeed been handy.

So anyway, I went to see him and show him my foot. It turned out he had just returned from the Philippines that morning, “at dawn,” and was somewhat exhausted,  but as always, he had a long and meandering chat with me. He seems to like chatting with his one non-Korean patient, even when there are a lot of people in the lobby. Or maybe he just thinks that I find it stressful to visit a Korean doctor with whom communication is still a challenge? Anyway, things I “learned” from my dermatologist yesterday:

  • Golf is expensive in Korea. It is relatively inexpensive in the Philippines.
  • Filipinos “are lazy. Very, very, very, very, lazy.” And their airport looks like it’s in the 3rd world. (Um, isn’t it?) Even the cops there demand tips for everything. (“I said, ‘Please help me find my friend,’ and he said, ‘Give me tip!’ Oh! Terrible!”)
  • Apparently it’s not at all strange that 3 taxi drivers in the last two months have assumed I was a Chinese man, and not a white person. (In their defense, two of them didn’t get a good look at me and just assumed it from my accent when speaking Korean. One of them, well, I don’t know what was up with him.) I don’t know why my dermatologist doesn’t think it’s odd, but he insisted it wasn’t, even after I clarified that it wasn’t me who’d thought the cabbies were Chinese, but the other way around.
  • Asians believe in reincarnation, wherein a bad man becomes a dog in his next life, and a good dog can become a man. (He seemed to think I’d never heard of the idea, though I knew the English terms that he asked me for.)
  • I was “probably a Korean in a past life.” I’m not sure why he thinks that, but it seems to be a positive thing, in his estimation.
  •  The medical term for athlete’s foot is “tinea pedis.” Communicating a condition is easy when you know the medical term, and much harder when you only know the layman’s term, but he got it when he saw it.

It might sound like I’m mocking this guy, but I’m not. He’s actually not as eccentric than some of the other doctors I’ve seen, including some in Canada. He’s mostly quite thoughtful, and encouraging, and treats his patients (or, at least, me) like a person, not just a condition. He has also always been careful to make sure of his diagnoses, and listened to me when I had questions or concerns. (Unlike the ENT just down the street from him who declared that I was losing my hearing… without actually bothering to test my hearing.)

My dermatologist is a good doctor, make no mistake: he also just happens to be a very colorful fellow, and always amuses me.

4 thoughts on “Athlete’s Foot, My Past Life, and I Look Chinese?

  1. Wish people would mistake me for being Chinese, then Koreans might actually start speaking Korean to me…getting them to do so to my good caucasian self is the bane of my life! What’s your secret?

  2. I really don’t know, except that ages ago, my father once looked at a picture of me and said IO looked Chinese in it.

    I do think it helps, though, that I’m dressed in work clothes (ie. a suit) whenever this happens. The only other common denominator is that it’s cabbies, and they usually tell me they didn’t get a good look at me. Maybe you need to wear a mask around? Or maybe just speak Korean really excitedly so they can’t refuse to reply in Korean? I dunno. But I’m sure you’d have better luck than I would, since you’re much better at the language than I am.

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