A number of times last year we were at the doctor with Zeph having fairly severe breathing difficulties. He would get a cough or a cold and then start wheezing and rapid breathing. Once he was hospitalised overnight with it.
Thankfully he’s been fine since the end of last summer. Perhaps I noticed one or two minor occurrences, nothing we needed to go to the doctor about. But Thursday morning he was coughing and over Friday night the wheezing started. The fine dust is worse here in the spring. It makes for a really frustrating conundrum: the weather is warmer and I want to get the kids outside as much as possible, but the air pollution is bad and I don’t want them out in that too much.
So, back to the doctor.
I take both the kids to the women and children’s hospital here in Suncheon City for their vaccinations and if they need a doctor. It’s where they were born and it’s a place I trust. I mean, health care here is good. It’s different to the UK, but it’s good. Mostly. In some ways it’s frustrating. Either way I miss the NHS.
Health care here is all private but most of it is covered by our health insurance (Josh’s school pays half and we pay half from his wage), so the on-the-spot fees are minimal. From what I understand from my experience, most South Koreans take their kids to the doctor the minute they get a fever or a runny nose. Which is different to home, and particularly my family: my mum was a nurse and I’ve worked in health and social care for a number of years too. I wouldn’t tend to take my kids to the doctor for a fever unless it’s extremely high and I can’t bring it down, or they’ve had it for three days. At 20 months, Elly had his first unscheduled doctor’s visit last month because he caught flu over the weekend and after a day of seeming better the high fever returned midweek. I think the doctor was shocked at me for not bringing him sooner. But it was flu. He wasn’t dehydrated and I could control the fever with over the counter medicine.
We get to choose which doctor we see when we go, and we had a great woman doctor for a while. Sadly she left the hospital\ and I was worried that our experience might suffer for it, but here are now two other woman doctors there who are also fantastic. We have seen male doctors there a few times, but I’ve found it harder to communicate with them, and felt less informed afterwards. I get the general impression that in most cases here, the doctor holds the knowledge and the patient does as instructed. Whatever the case, medical things especially are just kind of difficult with a language difference even when the doctor does speak English.
So at the end of last week we were back in a process that has become routine:
Sign in at reception
Queue for weighing and a temperature reading.
Wait to see a doctor. (Some of them seem much more popular than others, so sometimes there’s a whole queue for one while another has nothing on).
Explain what’s going on and have Zeph’s breathing listened to and his ears, nose and mouth checked.
Go for nebulizer treatment.
Pick up a cough, cold and lung steroid prescription.
Go home and watch. Because sometimes it gets worse. Rapidly.
This time round, I’m grateful to say that he got over it fine.