Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Assembly-Line Medicine

Last week 고 came to me with an idea that we should get total physicals and see where we stand with our health. I, being a man, did not want to do this at all. Not only does my gender prefer to ignore health issues, but I have not led a healthy led at all. I smoked cigarettes* for about eight solid years and kept a pretty healthy binge drinking regiment up for the last six, so I prefer to stay away from the doc. Nonetheless, she convinced me to get it done. So, we did not eat or drink anything after 5pm on Friday and went to bed early.

The next morning we woke up and braved the windy morning in the name of health. I was a little uneasy about the whole thing still, but once we walked in I felt better. They gave me a little locker key and I changed into my super cool martial-art looking scrubs. Since I can not speak the necessary Korean for this situation, 고 and I got to team up. I liked this and she did too.

First, we went to the consultatory doctor and expressed our medical shortcomings. 고 was worried about breast cancer (no family history)and I, of course, was worried about cancer (skin, colon and prostate). She asked me if I had an family history and I replied with a very firm and confident, "YES!" She then preceded to check every box and shooed me out the door to start the assembly line check up.

1) I got my retina's checked. In comparison to my body as a whole, I believe that my eyes might be in the best shape.

2) I got my weight and height taken next. 66kg and 174cm. Perfect in theory, but I'm sure I could change my muscle v. fat proportions.

3) Then it was blood time. 고 went first. I could tell they were having trouble finding her vein. They weren't poking everywhere, but when they finally did, her body had already used up the adrenaline and her blood pressure dropped to the point where she needed to lay down. She was okay, so I went and got stuck. No problem. I have blood. (고 did not finish her blood test. She went back today. No problem this time!)

4) I was then escorted into the next room where they took my hearing. I never heard anything, so I'm not sure if they actually tested me. Kidding, but hearing is not my strong point. I am becoming hard-of-hearing. In fact, I can't understand a word from one of my fellow teachers from England. I think the pitch of his voice and my hearing don't get along. I can understand the other Brits though.

5) 고 recovered and we went to the next room: lung capacity. I was worried. This could be it. All of my years of thoughtless smoking will get me here. I put the device in my mouth and blew. I did great! I beat 고 and the doctor seemed to be pleased. I guess I have more lung capacity that anyone else...ever.

5) The next room was testing my balance and involuntary muscle response. I responded.

Those first few rooms were basics. Now, we got to the back rooms. This is where it got serious.

6) 고 went first. She entered the ultrasonography room. She was in there for awhile. I didn't like the wait. Then it was my turn. I was nervous about this too. I don't want to see what I looked like in there. The doctor put the goo on the thing and looked at my neck. She periodically would see a black dot and click it and measure it. Great. Then she went to my stomach. Nothing. Then she looked at my prostate. She saw something and clicked and measured again. I was a little worried about this, but 고 told me that the doctor was measuring normal things and that I should not be worried. Hmmmm...

7) At this point, 고 was one room ahead of me. I was just following my clipboard from room to room, not knowing what to expect when I walk in the door. They called my name, "Choejie Hokeon". I walked in and the doctors laughed. This happened a lot. They were not used to seeing foreigners and my fancy-free attitude also caught them off gaurd. They told me to "Open" and then they listened to my heart on a machine. It's in there and pumping blood.

8) Chest X-Ray was next. This was my first male doctor. He spoke clear English. Of course, his test took less than 30 seconds.

9) This one was my favorite. The doctor called 고, but she was in the mammary(?) exam room. I was next. She asked me in Korean if I spoke Korean. I told her and she continued in English. This test was why we could not eat or drink. She gave me a couple awful drinks that kind-of made my empty stomach fizz. I climbed on this huge machine and the abdominal X-Rays started. Her directions were great though. "To the left. Little more. To the right. Little more. Good. Take a breath. Hold a breath. Good." I was having a great time.

10) Finally, I took my urine test and that was that.

It was a fun three hours and 200 bucks. I'm glad we got it all done and it's nice to know where I stand in this department. The whole process was really quite interesting. There were a lot of people there and it was a flat rate. I get the results back in about a week and a half. I applaud Korea's medical system and how affordable they make everything. Good for Korea and good for us!


oncle Jean said...

This was great fun to read. Reminds me of some of my recent tests. You didn't mention the old finger up the butt test. How did you avoid that or did you politely decline? Korean fingers are probably smaller, so less worry there.

Poor Go-won fainting and everything! Loved your account though. Hope the results are good.

Romeiser said...

Luckily, the "finger" was not an option. Too bad, huh?

Kristin said...

I'm SO glad you did that! Good for you! How responsible of Go to suggest it- my kind of gal. I've made poor Trey get physicals each year since we decided to get married. It just makes you feel better knowing all is well. Here's to good health for us all in 2008!

Amorina said...

Good post.