Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Back to the doctors (Jim edition)

In our continuing  effort to learn everything we can about the Korean medical system I took my turn for an emergency doctor visit yesterday.

It was a strange injury, I was walking down the  stairs to the cafeteria when my leg gave out, there was a significant pop in the middle of my thigh, and then I nearly fell down the stairs.  Thanks to my cat like reflexes (some people say I remind them of an enormous, very handsome, ballerina) I was able to catch the railing and I landed on the stairs with a little bit of dignity intact.  Initially I wasn't sure what had happened, I was worried the "pop" was more of a "crack" and that somehow I had broken my leg?  By the time my principal arrived I was pretty sure it was something less serious than a broken femur, but it still hurt a lot.  The principal is several inches taller than me, so I hung off his shoulder for support as we got to the elevator and from there to his office. 

After some calls on walkie talkies, and more attention than I was comfortable with the school nurse and a driver were rounded up and plans were made to get me to a local doctors office.

At the doctors they took an x ray.  The technician did not speak English, but every time he left the room I could hear him using an app on his phone to translate.  The voice on the phone would say "please turn on your side" and then he would come in and repeat. When he was done and I was putting my pants back on I heard the lady's voice on the phone say "you've been through a lot today"  He did not repeat the phrase, but I thought it was nice that he was considering it.

The doctor looked at the x ray, and then spoke to our school nurse in Korean.  Before she translated anything she looked very worried and said""really?  oh no!" in English.  When I asked for clarification she held up a finger for me to wait as the doctor kept talking.  I thought this was very bad translating, and caused me a lot oif anxiety.  Finally she told me my leg was not broken, which I already knew, and when I asked what was wrong- she said the doctor thought I had torn my quadricep, and would need an MRI.

Irish took the afternoon off to meet me back at school and then drive me to the MRI.  I had never had an MRI and honestly didn't know much about how it worked. After I changed into shorts the technicians gave me headphones to block out the loud noise.  It was a new style MRI, not the claustrophobic tube, a big disk open all around me.  As the technicians were leaving the room I asked how long it would take, thinking maybe it would be a few minutes, or maybe they just had to flip a switch like an x ray.  Instead he replied 30-40 minutes, and then shut the door.  I lay there wondering if it was a language issue, that he meant 3 or 4 minutes, or maybe 13-14 minutes.  Eventually I found out he meant 30-40 minutes just like he said.  I managed to find a way to get claustropbic, then calmed down, then fell asleep for a while, it had been a long day. 

Here I am, freaking out, or sleeping

Below is one image from the MRI, the white box is to preserve my modesty(although I'm not sure what the white thing is above the square, maybe my bladder? or my colon?  Maybe I should have made the square bigger) , the green arrow shows the white area that is either the tear in my thigh muscle, or the blood that is leaking out.  Either way it doesn't belong there.

Back at the doctors office August was getting to the limit of his patience.  We entertained him with my cell phone and crutches.  Eventually we spoke to the doctor, he told us again that there was a tear.  The good news was that it does not require surgery.  There always seems to be the looming threat of surgery here. They gave me a leg brace, some crutches, and a prescription for medicines that come in unmarked bags.  I think it has a low grade pain killer, muscle relaxer and something else, vitamin C maybe. 

August, also tired of being at the doctors.
me, tired of being at the doctors

So now, I am a little bit hobbled.  August suggested I would feel better if I slept on the sofa and watched Yo Gabba Gabba.  I told him I didn't feel like watching Yo Gabba Gabba but he insisted that was part of getting better, and he could watch it with me. I am flying to Beijing next Wednesday for another Model UN, maybe I get lucky and they upgrade me so I have more room to stretch out my leg. 

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