Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pins and Needles

I've managed to have a re-occurence of my spinal-disc problem, and could hardly move my neck this morning, so I offered no resistance to the idea of going back to one of the local orthopaedic hospitals where I'd had some treatment late last year. I thought another round of physiotherapy might put me right, and after four x-rays and two sessions with the orthopaedic specialist which were completed within ten minutes of my stepping into the building, I was once again making the trip two floors up to Dr. Kim's Neuro-Pain Clinic - but not before a nurse had given me a painkilling shot in the ass this time, which made the climb up those stairs so much more interesting as I dragged a rapidly numbing leg behind me.

Much as Dr. Kim was itching to give me that highly-invasive neck injection I'd avoided last time, only confirming her belief that Westerners hate needles, I ruled that out leaving the options of acupuncture for twenty minutes or physiotherapy for forty. So I chose acupuncture, partly because I didn't have the time, but mostly just to prove that people from my country don't have an irrational fear of sharp objects wielded by medical professionals, even if we quite rightly do.

Two minutes later I'm face down and shirtless on a table with a mere four needles embedded in my neck, which by coincidence was the same number of nurses I believe had gathered in the background for the entertainment. The stabbings failed to illicit any response from me, I imagine to the disappointment of Dr. Kim's beliefs, but I hardly felt a thing, even when they upped the ante by adding some kind of magnetic pulse machine to work on my shoulders. The TV in the waiting room was stuck on the Christian channel and while I was worked on Christian songs echoed round room from an unseen speaker, greatly enhancing the feeling of having stumbled into a scene from the Spanish Inquisition.

There are pills to take as always seems to be the case here, the whole hospital visit only cost 23,500 won (about £12.63) and took forty-five minutes, for the typically efficient Korean health service, and I still marvel at it when compared against Britain's NHS, whose treatment strategy is premised on you getting better of your own accord while you wait for an appointment, or alternatively dying, both of which solve the problem from their point of view.

On the other hand, it occurs to me that the downside of the Korean system is over-treatment. I've irradiated myself a little further today, had a pain injection, a bit of acupuncture, and started a course of drugs, and I dare say things will be back to normal in a couple of days, but I can't help thinking I could have achieved the same effect by not going through any of it and just taking it easy until the end of the week - which is no doubt what my cost-conscious doctor back home would have dismissively advised - which is why you don't bother going in the first place. The Korean health service is good, but I'm begining to wonder whether it's maybe a little too over-enthusiastic.

No comments:

Post a Comment