Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My First Korean Hospital Experience

First, let me say nothing is wrong with me.  My trip to the hospital was absolutely routine.

Anyway, I knew I was going to have to give a urine and blood sample and some other routine things but that was all I knew going in to this exam.  Let me just say that anytime giving blood comes up I have an anxiety attack.  I hate needles.  Can't think about them, can't talk about them, can't look at them.  I am squeamish... and it isn't the blood it is the NEEDLE, big or small... oogie.  In anticipation for my blood sample I tried to forgo coffee (I broke down and got an iced mocha on my planning period) and chug more water than I normally do.  It was all I could think about from the night before throughout the day.

A couple things I new about the Korean hospital before we got there.  They don't use latex gloves like we are used to seeing in the USA and not to be weirded out by that.  Also,  patients wander around the hospital in their gowns with IVs attached.  They also go outside the hospital like this to take smoke breaks or get some fresh air.

After school two of head out in my car to the hospital.  It is the closest hospital and it is a catholic hospital with crucifixes EVERYWHERE as well as catholic themed murals on the walls.  We had appointments in the International Clinic and found it easily.  The receptionist, who was also our escort/translator, spoke excellent English and was very friendly.  We had a checklist to complete for our visit which included height, weight, chest size (not sure what this was for, am I getting a new bra too?), blood pressure, a physical exam with a doctor (he listened to my heart, lungs, palpitated my organs and beat on my back), chest x-ray (check for TB), blood and urine tests, check tympanic membrane in ear, eye sight test (including glaucoma and color blindness tests), EKG, and dentistry (check for decayed teeth).  All of these tests were able to be conducted within the different clinics in the hospital and our escort took us to each clinic winding us through the hospital halls.  We pretty much cut to the front of the line in front of all the people in gowns waiting for the miscellaneous clinicians.

The first tests were the measurement tests and physical exam in the International Clinic.  No clothes needed to be removed and the measurement devices were all automated.  In fact, I was quite impressed by the machine that weighed me and calculated my height.  It was so quick that I didn't even know it had done it.  From there we went and had our teeth examined for decay.  It was a wham  bam thank you ma'am exam and we were off.  From there we had to read an eye chart and do the other eye tests... pretty routine.  Then we had our ears looked at and shuffled off to get an EKG.  The EKG required we take our shoes off and lift my shirt up over my bra to have the electrodes applied to my body.  I felt an electric pulse when it was running and was a bit disheartening but it was over relatively quickly.

From there we headed to the lab to do the blood test.  This was what I was dreading all day.  We walked in to this glass walled room where there were three chairs with the "take a number" call signs over them and we sat down in front of a man who started printing labels.  Then we were told to put our arm on the table... right there in the middle of the room that looked like I was applying for a parking permit.  He applied the rubber band to my bicep and told me to make a tight fist (all bare handed).  I turned my head and watched the second hand on the clock focusing on my breathing to keep a panic attack at bay.  Before I knew it I was being told to relax my fist and fold my arm to keep pressure on the gauze.  I hadn't really even felt the needle pinch.  It was the best blood draw I have EVER had.... this guy is a phlebotomist god.  He then handed me a hello kitty paper cup with a label on it and I was told to sit down for a spell before making my urine deposit in the cup.

When cleared to stand up again we were given instructions, "In Korea we don't use first pee, we use middle pee and fill cup half way - so to the kitty's eyes." For real instructions.  We were then pointed towards the toilets which were the traditional in the ground Korean toilets... or as I affectionately call them "squatty potties."  This may have been easier to give my sample... I don't know.  It isn't like this is an easy task.  Also keep in mind all the water I had drank and that I had been holding it since I got in the hospital and I was having to go potty with a cup camping style.  I will just say it was a bit messy.  Sorry for all the potty detail but it was quite comical, really.  The best was when we both opened the stall doors and went "OH!" at the same time.

The x-ray was pretty standard except that it took us more time to remove all our upper body clothing and put on the gown (the same one for everyone that day, by the way) then it did for him to take the x-ray.

After that we were free to go.  It was quite the experience.


Poekitten said...

I love that they gave you a hello kitty cup to pee in! I hated squatty potties when I first lived in Asia but then by the time I left I was ok with them.

Rebekah said...

I have such a germ issue in hospitals as it is - I think I probably would have had a panic attack by the time I had to squat for the hello kitty cup!