My name today is Monster Teacher, which doesn’t make me feel great about my general appearance, to be honest.
I have conjunctivitis for the first time in my life, and oh, the pain! Being unable to find an English-speaking doctor nearby, and reluctant to bother my boss or colleagues at the weekend, I spent Saturday becoming increasingly miserable and Sunday lying in bed with a cold washcloth over the infected eye.
Why didn’t you call me? asked my director this morning in her angry mother voice, inspecting my eye from a safe distance as I dolefully printed out worksheets while blinking painfully. I didn’t want to bother you at the weekend, I explained pathetically, at which she snorted in annoyance, gave me a slap, and ranted at me in Korean for a few minutes. None of this unnerves me at all, these days. In fact, I sort of like it – sometimes it’s nice to have someone treat you like a child, especially when you’re feeling under the weather! She rearranged my classes for the day and bundled me into the car for another one of those doctor’s appointments that always leaves my head in a bit of a confused whirl.
Well, I say appointment, but none is necessary. You just show up, check the notice board for the correct department (as the place is more like a hospital full of specialists than a GP’s surgery), and give your name and your symptoms to the receptionist. They find you on the computer and tell you to sit down, so you sit down – but almost the second your bum hits the chair, a nurse appears to whisk you into the doctor’s room. I have yet to meet a friendly doctor here. They have all been rather scary and old and frowny, and each one has barked “Anja!” (Sit!) and addressed all subsequent remarks to my director, who is practically holding me by my trembling hand by this point.
You are in and out of the surgery in the blink of an eye, which is probably why no one needs an appointment. Today was the most incredible yet. I had literally just sat down in the chair, put my chin on the eye-examining machine-thingy, and blinked as the light shone into my eyes, when he sat back, said about 2 words to Jennifer, and waved dismissively at us. And off we went. Shortest check-up ever. A cheerful nurse then sat me down in front of a machine, told me to close my eyes, and then left me there for a minute with no explanation as some kind of laser shone on my eyelids, by which stage someone else had printed up my prescription and bill (the equivalent of about £1.50) and I was being ushered downstairs to the pharmacy.
Handing over another £1 or so, I was given my drugs. Koreans love their medicine. I’ve always been too sick to think of taking a photo on previous occasions, but as I am merely half-blind and not ill this time, here is a sample of just two days’ worth of drugs.
They never give you more than enough for 2 or 3 days, so you have to keep going back – probably because it’s so cheap and they have to make money somehow, although my boss insists it’s because they want to keep checking on your progress and altering your medication as required. I don’t care this time because other than the pain in my eye, I’m healthy and well, and not feeling like death – during swine flu and food poisoning and allergies, the thought of getting up and going out to see the doctor every few days was enough to send me into floods of frustrated tears!
Anyway, I put the first of the eye drops into my burning eye (extremely proud that I have now mastered this skill, after a lot of failed attempts during last year’s allergy nightmare), waited for five minutes as instructed, and then put the other ones in. I expected soothing, cooling, instant relief, but instead discovered that my eye was on fire.
Yarrrrrghhhh!!!! I howled, clutching a wet wipe to the flames and blinking furiously. How something marked “anti-inflammatory” can feel like acid burning through your cornea is beyond me. In addition, it appears to have robbed me of my eyesight in the doomed eye, and I am squinting madly at everyone. Teacher, eye is red like monster eye! they’re all squealing. Scary, scary!
Apparently this will last for 2 weeks. And did I mention that I’m not allowed any alcohol till it’s better?!
It is going to be a very long 2 weeks.