Well my Tuesday meeting with the doctor was a little anticlimactic. More poking and prodding. A failed attempt to drain more blood from the knee capsule (apparently the remaining blood is clotted). Another costly cast. A bungled attempt to x-ray it again. An MRI scheduled for Thursday, to determine the extent of tissue damage, and a consultation next Tuesday. So I guess I’ll have to wait for answers.
In the meantime, I got crutches to hobble around and my new cast lets me wear a shoe. While I am mobile, I’m unbelievably slow, especially climbing and descending stairs. My room is 4 floors from the street; the kitchen is 2 floors from my room. I’m also skeptical that my crutches will fully support my weight for a long time – I am a little heavier than the average Korean.
The English support was definitely better but not enough that I felt completely comfortable. It’s starting to approach that threshold between amusement and alarm. I know these posts are long, so here’s a dialogue version of how today went down…
Me: Hi hospital, I’m sure glad you’re located at the top of a huge hill, now could you tell me where to go?
Hospital: *point* *point* *point* *point*
Me: Awesome…but I thought you were supposed to speak at least some English…
Doctor appears: Hello, I speak medical English. Your knee has much effusion on medial side, we need to aspirate. Remove splint.
Me: Does that mean my knee is swollen and you’re going to stick that needle into me again?
Doctor: Um…sure…*sticks needle into my knee, digs around, removes * Oops, looks like the blood is clotted and we can’t aspirate.
Me: That sounds kinda serious…will it go away naturally?
Me: Will the blood go away? Be drained? Get flushed out? Is it dangerous?
Me: Will it heal naturally?
Doctor: Um…sure…here talk to my English-speaking nurse who will schedule an MRI to determine tissue rupture and medial structure.
Nurse: Nice to meet you.
Matt: Nice to meet you too. So we’ll schedule an MRI to see how damaged my knee is?
Matt: Um…ok…I’ll follow you…
Nurse: MRI on Thursday, 9:30am – now let’s get another X-ray
X-ray people: Ok now bend your leg in this position
Matt: Um…I have a hard cast on and I can’t bend my leg
X-ray people and Nurse: * talk a lot in Korean *
X-ray people: Ok, all done, you can go *smile*
Matt: Um…ok…wait was that X-ray important? Should I just take the cast off so we can get it done?
Nurse: Doctor said MRI more important and we skip X-ray since you already splint.
* opposite of confidence *
Matt: Ok, I’ll see you Thursday…wait, wasn’t the doctor supposed to give me some medication for swelling…er, “effusion?”
Nurse: Hmmm, they never told me. Let me see and email you
No email has arrived
Despite the many miscommunications, I understood a fair amount of what they were trying to say, and I think I’ll be able to have someone that can serve as a translator on Tuesday morning. The English-speaking support that was promised was better than on Sunday but not quite what I hoped for. However, if I want to transfer to an international clinic, I need to get all of my medical records myself (which I suppose is theoretically possible, especially if I become fluent in Korean in the next couple days), and even then, they’ll probably repeat all the x-rays and MRI’s (which I’ll pay for again). So for better or worse, I think I’m stuck with Korean University Hospital for now.