Thursday, June 07, 2007

Cold Feet

I hurt my foot a while ago and although it wasn't anything that I couldn't live with the aching didn't go away, so today we went to a nearby orthopaedic hospital to get things checked. It's increasingly occurred to me of late that there's a real danger of overkill - if you'll excuse the pun - when it comes to diagnosis and treatment in Korea, but you can never fault them for trying and that has to be a good thing. Three x-rays and one anti-inflammatory IV later I'm in the physiotherapy department where a particularly officious nurse insisted that my wife should leave the treatment area in favour of the waiting room.

So when a physiotherapist turned up I was left to try and explain the symptoms in more detail. My language ability is still poor and what I have covered so far hasn't equipped me with more medical terms, therefore my attempts to tell him that my wife was Korean and she should come and translate stalled when I couldn't think of the verb 'to translate'. It appeared instead to be misconstrued as an attempt at small talk. With an increasingly typical five hours sleep behind me - I'm not coping well with sleeping in our stuffy apartment at night - my brain alternated between frustration, resignation, and bizarrely, a suddenly rediscovered ability and desire to try and explain the whole thing in Japanese. Not that my Japanese is great either - but it's a lot better than my Korean.

Fortunately the physiotherapist seemed able to draw upon his university English and somehow we struggled through the situation, though it's fair to suspect that I might not have got the most appropriate treatment given my inability to adequately explain the background and symptoms.

If I were here on my own I'd be facing these situations all the time, but my circumstances mean that in some respects I get an easy ride on the language front, but the flip side of this is that I don't learn nearly as quickly - maybe not at all from the motivated-immersion perspective - even though there's nothing quite so immersing as being stuck in a Korean family no with native-language contact beyond it.

When asked when I'd arrived here, I replied (in Korean - I was making some effort) October. But when a few moments later the question was rephrased to how many months I have been here, I replied six - because I think I stopped counting at the point I was supposed to go back to England, and at some subconscious level I don't want to believe that I've made this little progress with the Korean language in what is, in actual fact, over eight months now.

I'm due to go back for more sessions so it's to be hoped I get my head in the game before tomorrow turns into a repeat performance.

1 comment:

Mosher said...

Going on from your comments about the amazing health care there - I just found out from a guy I traveled India with that he's been diagnosed as positive for TB. He's just waiting for further tests to determine what "type", though it's looking benign.

These tests, in Canada, took three days so far from appointment to working through. I seriously doubt I'd get this treatment withing three *months* of making an appointment here (yes, I'm in the UK for 5 days).

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