Moving to a new country entails experiencing a plethora of unfamiliar things. I'd like to think I've adapted well thanks to being flexible and embracing the differences in Korea, but still there are things that have taken some getting used to. There are the big differences like the food, the language, and the culture, and then there are the smaller things like the air, the water, not having a dryer, not having a shower booth, public baths, having to bring your own toilet paper to the public bathrooms, etc. I could go on for days. :) Even though mentally and emotionally I've adapted really well, living in a new country finally took its toll on me physically. Soon after my last post, I got a bladder infection - pretty normal, would not have been a serious ailment in the States. Usually I would have visited a walk in clinic or my Dr. and been given antibiotics. I would have felt fine within 24 hours. Here in Korea, things panned out quite differently.
I visited my first doctor on Thursday, October 28th. He took my temperature, asked about my symptoms and prescribed a bunch of white medication - still not sure what exactly it was - you don't get medication info here. All I know is by the next afternoon, I was feeling much worse. I was light headed, had a fever, and had terrible pain in my abdomen and left side/back. And we just so happened to be having a Halloween party this afternoon. :( Towards the end of the evening, I let my friend Rim know I wasn't feeling well. I suggested we go to the doctor, but since at this point it was 7:30pm on a Friday - we had to go to the hospital.
Visiting the hospital in Korea was interesting. Patient confidentiality is pretty much out the window since everything I said had to be translated through my director. Also, the ER is a big room with 35ish beds and you can see what's going on with everyone. My first visit they suggested running all these tests - I found out I didn't have health insurance and was a little nervous about the costs and the fact that I'd feel silly if nothing was wrong. I was really stressed out and a little scared I guess, so I actually cried for the first time since I've been here. I declined the tests. They still hooked me up to an IV for 2 hours - loading me with fluids and an antibiotic drip. It helped with my fever and 2 hours later I headed home.
Saturday I was in bed all day - still feverish with no appetite. Around 9:00 that night, I decided my body was giving me multiple signs that something wasn't right and that I probably shouldn't risk it. So, I headed again to the hospital - this time by myself armed with my English to Korean dictionary. When I got to the hospital, a few of the nurses from the night before were there. They remembered me as the girl that declined medical attention, but were still very kind. This time there was a nurse who spoke excellent English (such a blessing)!! So, I went ahead with the tests and was again hooked up to IV drips for the next 2 hours. I left with 1 day worth of medication and instructions to see a doctor first thing Monday morning.
Monday, I went back to the hospital - note from the ER in hand. The doctor spoke very little English and in hindsight I think he just prescribed some medication and wanted me out of his office. He didn't run ANY additional tests, despite my symptoms changing AND worsening. The pain was now in my legs, still in my side and back, and now my neck and head were hurting terribly and I'd thrown up. I was worried I had meningitis! So I lay in bed for the next 4 days - still feverish, still no appetite and still no improvement. I missed work all week.
Finally on Friday, we go back to the hospital to meet with the nephrologist (the kidney doctor). He is AMAZING! He speaks perfect English, runs extensive tests - and changes my medication. This is Friday and by Sunday, after 7 days in bed, I finally return to the land of the living! If only I had met him on Monday! :)
Overall, a bit scary, but this definitely opened my eyes and made me really appreciate healthcare in America. I know it has its issues, but I really had taken for granted how easy it is to go to the doctor, tell the doctor what's wrong, and trust that they're giving me the correct medication. In addition to the language barrier here, the medications are quite different, AND I felt a bit like the diagnoses were trial and error. But, I did finally meet the right doctor! :)
A HUGE thanks to all the friends in Pohang and back home that called and facebooked me to make sure I was doing ok! :) All the well wishes and offers to bring me food and fluids meant SOOOOO much! I won't list names b/c I might miss someone important - but you guys are AWESOME/Terrific/Wonderful - thanks so much! Love you!
xoxo from a FULLY Recovered Emily! :)
A special thanks to the Schneider Electric Family -
For those of you who don't know, I was ill about 2 weeks ago. And when I mean ill - I mean the most sick I've been since I can remember. A little background: My dad's worked for Square D my entire life - which is over 25 years. As someone who's now experienced corporate America, I realize this says a lot. His tenure speaks very highly of not only his accomplishments, but says a lot about the company, too. So, firsthand I'd experienced Schneider/Square D being a great company, but I may be a tad biased. :)
Being sick at home isn't fun. And being sick 7,000 miles away from family, friends, comfort, and Campbell's soup was especially NOT fun. To top things off I was scared and so was my Dad, but he was pretty helpless being so far away. Having a marketing degree, I learned about the textbook perks of an international company, but I learned another one a few weeks ago. And that's having an international support chain, an international "phone tree". Being able to call a business colleague and, switch gears for a minute and express concern as a parent, being able to relate, despite distance or culture.
Bottom line: I was sick and even though Alban and Mr. Kim and many others had never met me, they were kind enough to help - be it passing on an email to find someone that could help, or calling me the next day and making sure I was okay. Mr. Kim's wife is a doctor and she took the time to call and speak with my coteacher. She offered her medical advice, suggesting we go see a kidney doctor - which ended up being the best doctor I'd seen all week! Despite spending the previous 7 days in bed, after seeing the kidney doctor, I was feeling better within 48 hours! :)
Amidst the busy days of emails, conference calls, product quality checks, and all the other things that go along with busy Schneider/Square D days - I want to send a sincere THANK YOU for the kindness I received. I can't explain how nice it felt to know that I was cared about and not alone, even though I'm really far away from my family - I now realize I'm a part of the Square D family - and if need be there is someone that can help!
With Sincere Thanks and Even More Respect for all You do!