Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Real Medical Issue

Ok so this might be too much information, but ever since I got here I've had a bad urinary tract infection. I've gotten them before and I figured it must have sprung up with all the travelling and the stress. I knew I would need antibiotics at some point. I really didn't want it to turn into a kidney infection like I had last summer. The thing is, I technically don't have insurance here until I get my Alien Registration Card which I most likely will not have for another month or so. I didn't think I could afford a doctor's visit without insurance nor did I even know where to go. I didn't want to be in debt already in a foreign country or be a burden to my boss/coworkers.

I was just going to wait it out, try to drink plenty of water, and hope that it went away on its own. But it only got worse. Only the second day being here it was to the point where it was incredibly painful, I would have to go every half hour, and I was starting to see blood. I knew I couldn't wait any longer but I had no idea what I was going to do.

So I'm at work and Min is showing me what lesson plans she would like me to read and simulate. "Alright, I know this is all a little overwhelming, but don't be scared. Do you have any questions that you need to ask?"

"Um, I hate to ask, and this really has nothing to do with the work, but I think I have a urinary infection. You know, caused by bacteria. And it's painful when... I.. um... pee..." I really did hate to ask her. Everyone is so nice but I also don't want to take advantage or ask something that may be too personal of a fact. "I don't have insurance yet or my ARC... Can I just get anti-biotics for it or do I need a prescription? I'm not sure how it works here..."

She looked at me for a moment, processing everything and simply said "I will research it for you." She left the room and I went to my observation. 40 minutes later she said "well I can take you up to the clinic, but since you don't have insurance it's going to be about 20,000 won to see the doctor, do you still want to go?"

I took a moment to process the amount she had said. That can't be right. That's less than $20.

I reiterated the price just to make sure "20,000?"


"That is more than fine," I said almost with a disbelieving smile. That's how much my co-pay is in the US WITH insurance.

So we made the trip over to the women's clinic (which just so happened to be in the same building) and Min translated everything at the clinic so I could get the prescription from the doctor. Simple, easy, and painless.

"Now," Min said looking at me fairly seriously, "the pharmacist I've been to her before," we walked outside towards the building next door and got into the elevator to go up to the pharmacy, "she's not a very nice person. She can be mean."

Min hands the pharmacist my prescription and they talk back and forth a bit and the pharmacist beams at me "US, right?" Her English is not very good but she seems to know some words. I nod politely in response.

"What state?"

I say where and she nods approvingly, not sure if she recognized it or not, but gives me a huge smile and my beloved antibiotics. "Anyong ha se yo!"

I paid, by the way, less than $15 for my prescription as well. A five day supply of anti-biotics. It's amazing to me how cheap medical care is. I can barely afford medical visits or prescriptions in the states with insurance. Now if only I could read and speak Korean.

After leaving the office Min looks at me and says "She was so nice to you! You are picking up every prescription for all of us from now on."

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