Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Medical Test

Forgive the incessant blogging, I think I’m still settling in to being here and writing feels like my safe space. Hey, you don’t have to read it!

I’m not sure that we wrote about the medical test last time. Basically, when you arrive in Korea you have to go through a slew of medical testing to ensure you're fit to teach. This includes hearing, eyesight, a chest x-ray, blood tests and a urine test. I want to compare the two.

Last time we arrived, we were hurried off the bus by our coteachers, we ate a huge lunch where I had meat for the first time in 14 years, sweated profusely and learned to love mul naegmyon (Korean cold noodles) because the ice cooled me from the inside. We weren’t prepared for Korean summer, I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, I had really long hair that keeps in the heat and all of my secrets. After lunch, we drove to Buan and were shunted around one of the hospitals through what can barely be described as ‘medical testing.’

  • Hearing test which consisted of one loud tone being played in each ear for a second.
  • Eye test where we read the biggest letter on the chart and moved on.
  • Trying to pee in a cup when I was seriously dehydrated and sweaty. I have never seen pee that colour before.
  • Being giggled at when they measured my weight.
  • Being seriously giggled at when I had to take my shirt off for a chest x-ray.

This morning my co-teacher collected me from our apartment at about 10 past 9 to travel to Wonju for the testing. Tom was already at his school for reasons I'll let him elaborate on, so we drove over and picked him up along with his co-teacher and her great-nephew. I think Tom's co-teacher is only in her late twenties but through the magic of babies her sister's daugher has a 6 year old. Normally it's the grandmothers' responsibility to take over childcare, but said grandmother is in China learning Chinese for the next three months. The kid is impossibly cute and was very well-behaved, except that 80% of the time he had at least one finger up his nose.

We made our way to Wonju in my co-teacher's tiny car and pulled up at the hospital just as Typhoon Bolaven started to hit. School today was actually cancelled because of the typhoon, but there is no rest/delay in hospital testing for the wicked, so we were all a little scared during the drive considering the car's size and the typhoon's predicted power.
The hospital was far shinier than any in Buan I visited, but the testing was of a similarly haphazard nature. 

  • Hearing test identical to the last place, except this time I had to sit in a booth for both tones.
  • Explaining to the doctor that I have a birth control implant in one arm. He looked baffled until I said 'No Babies' loudly which made him blush.
  • Carrying a vial of my own urine through the halls for a good five minutes.
  • Entertaining the kid as I cowered during my blood test. UGH NEEDLES.

One bonus was the eye test - I can read the bottom of the chart without glasses. It's been over a year since I got them zapped and it remains one of the best medical-related decisions I've ever made.

After an hour of flitting through the halls, the five of us piled back into the car and drove straight back to Jecheon. The wind and rain had really picked up, and it got pretty scary as we were buffeted across the lanes of the highway when the gusts were strong enough. Both co-teachers were scared for our apartment - our windows aren't double glazed so there was a big risk of breakage. Fortunately, aside from it's general crapness the place was fine and we've managed to borrow a fan from my school for a while to take an edge off the heat.


  1. I had to take my first chest x-ray twice because I didn't take off my Thor's Hammer. When it showed up on the x-ray, it scared the crap out of the technician.

  2. Danny that's awesome! I can just imagine how it would look and don't blame the technician.