Friday, March 31, 2006

Sick and Tired (but getting better)

Bronchitis bites. Take it from me and hubby, who have been taking turns keeping each other up with a symphony of hacking for about three nights. He coughs so loud I'll bet the neighbors were hoping I'd smother him. I'd say we've gotten a cumulative eight hours of sleep between us, over those three nights. I don't want to calculate the cumulative weight of loogies we have generated. Nast.

Yet Korea is not at all where America is on "hey, you're sick, go home, don't get us sick." You're expected to be at your desk. So it's off to a doctor, by utter necessity and unavailability of quality over-the-counter medicines like you find at a supermarket Stateside. And being intelligent adults, we have now gamed the medical system(s) here, as follows.
  • If we want the staunch U.S. "I'm sorry it's a cold so go home and turn on the humidifier" treatment we go to our favorite international clinic -- this is usually the approach we now take with our boys, since, after all, you don't want the tender young things developing antibiotic resistance or taking unnecessary medicine. Plus, I can always keep them home to let them heal.

  • For us already-messed-up, weakling adults who are on-duty no matter how we feel, we take our wimpy selves to the local Korean internal medicine practitioner's clinic. There, a very qualified and sympathetic doctor listens to our breathing, "barely" looks at our throats (says Hubby), and pronounces some form of infection. This promptly gets us a nice steroid/antibiotic shot in the butt, plus about five day's-worth of additional medication, which is probably an antibiotic, cough suppressant, and pseudoephedrine. (We can't exactly tell what we are taking really because Korean drug trade names are different and the prescription sheets don't tell you what each drug is targeting.)

Thus we go through some decision about whether to pick the U.S. "body, heal thyself" approach versus good ol' down-home aggressively reactive care each time we get sick. Korean medical system to the rescue! It's funny, because once you do this enough you can kind of steer the outcome of the appointment if you want to, by well-placed comments: e.g., about the tone of the mucus, the location of any pains, the duration of your problems, and of course noting fevers, real or not.

So yesterday, after said three nights of hacking and choking on phlegm, Hubby and I went to the local Korean clinic. Being pregnant, I didn't get all the meds he did, but I got some inhaled corticosteroid to help calm down the bronchial tubes, which is deemed reasonably safe in pregnancy (yes of course I looked it up on first). We both slept much better (only one waking-up-coughing episode versus about four per night on previous nights) and I think we both felt much better today. This morning, Hubby noted "You know, we're going to miss this getting to dictate our prescriptions whenever we go back to the States." I know he's right. Score one for Korea.

On a side note, all four of us got the same cold, but the boys have been done with it for at least four nights. Maybe all that hard livin' in college. Or maybe we're just getting old. Tsk tsk tsk.


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