Thursday, November 1, 2007

Getting a Flu Shot in Korea

Last week, I decided to get a flu shot (called an influenza inoculation here in Korea). I've been getting them for the past few years and thought it was a good idea. I talked to Hellena (my Korean friend) and she said we could go before maedeup class on Saturday.

Saturday arrived and I went off with my Korean girlfriends to get a flu shot. We approached a hospital which was only a few blocks from class. As we entered, it reminded me of the stores at Christmastime, there were people everywhere! Right by the front door, I saw a woman lying on a gurney, hooked up to I.V.'s with a nose tube. No doctor or nurse in sight of her which was quite unnerving to me. We went to the reception desk and were directed to another part of the hospital.

As Hellena was talking to the receptionist, a nurse came at me with an ear thermometer. I held up my hands and said alarmingly, "Wait a minute!" They all started laughing as Hellena said they needed my temperature before I could get the shot. Okay, so I'm a little hypersensitive, I'll admit it. She took my temperature and then we returned to the original reception desk for me to pay. It was 25,000 WON ($25.00 US). Hellena questioned it, thinking it was too much to pay. I told her that it was fine.

Then we were directed to the "Injection Room." We stood in the doorway and saw a small boy about 8 years old fighting off a couple of nurses. They closed the door on us which was fine with me. Then a nurse stuck her head out and called out for another nurse who came running. I heard all kinds of screaming and crying coming from the room. There was another little boy the same age waiting to be next and he was already crying. This really didn't look good for me. I hate needles too!

The first little boy came out and sat on the bench next to me with his mom. He was hiccuping and sniffling. The second boy went in, again we heard the screaming and crying. Now, I'm feeling sick to my stomach and a little lightheaded. He came out looking the same way as the first little boy.

Now it was my turn. As I entered the room, I was surprised to see about 6-8 cots filled with Koreans getting I.V.'s. The injection "chair" was in the middle of the room with an audience of these poor souls laying on the cots. I sat down and the nurse drew the injection (I'm used to the injections being ready to go by the time I enter the room). The needle looked about the same size as back home but the barrel of the shot was half the size of any shot I've ever received. It looked awkward to even hold. By then, I was also sweating pretty good and wishing I could scream.

She wiped an alcohol pad on my arm, pinched and gave me the shot. I waited for the sting and I never felt the needle. This has NEVER happened to me. She was quite pleased to hear that! The whole thing took about 15 minutes, unheard of in the States. Whenever you walk into a hospital back home (unless it's life threatening) be prepared for a long wait. We proceeded to class.

A market we ran into near the hospital.

Another view.
A cool looking restaurant we saw on our way back to class.

It had it's menu on a huge poster outside. We sure love picture menus!


Helena said...

I was always glad that I never had to go to the hospital for anything serious while in Korea. Though I did once go because my hands had turned yellow from eating too many kyools (the little satsuma mandarins) and my mission president thought it might be a sign of liver damage. (It wasn't.) It was an odd experience.

I wore my hanbok for Halloween! Come see pictures!

Becky said...

Helena: Yesterday, I was at our local Home Plus and I saw a hospital patient shopping while wearing his gown. It still surprises me to see that! I LOVE your Hanbok. Did you get it while in Korea?

Helena said...

Yeah, I had it made while I was in Nonsan. I also got a "kyerang hanbok" made while I was doing an internship in Seoul right before I got married (that's the "reformed hanbok" that has the skirt actually at the waist) but I must have been awfully skinny right then because I can't get into it anymore! I keep thinking I should take it down to the hanbok shop here (in Lakewood) and see if they can let it out for me.

CreekHiker said...

Becky, I went with my sister in Baton Rouge. We were in and out of the hospital in under five minutes.

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