Off to the doctor in South Korea

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,┬ámedical 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.

One last winter post…

After all, it is still February. And that means winter, right?

Ok. I am definitely much too late with this. I should have written about it last month but this that and the other and I didn’t. And I really want to because we had the best day trip. So.

Mid-January the boys and I went to Hwasun for snow tubing and swimming with a group of Korean friends (4 mums and 6 kids plus us). Now, that sounds fun any day to me… but I was apprehensive about how Zeph would find it. In some ways he’s so brave, and in others so cautious. Espescially with new experiences. And espescially recently. I expected him to really enjoy going on an adventure with his friends and to love the activities, if he was willing to try them.

If he was willing to try them.

If he was willing to try them.

This thought echoed through the few days between confirming the trip and going. Echoed through my preparations for going the night before. Echoed through the car journey there. Because if he refused to even try, which was quite possible it seemed to me, then he’d probably be miserable. And I would probably be miserable at spending a whole day out doing nothing. And Elly would probably be miserable at spending a whole day out doing nothing too.

And then one of the mums, who also has and brought a toddler, reminded me about naps. Inward groan. How to make sure Elly gets a decent nap and doesn’t get too grumpy….

So we got to the snow tubing. It was cold but someone had brought heat packs. Zeph wouldn’t wear one… not the best start to trying new things. We lined up for the tube-lift. Zeph went before me, sat in, got hooked up… and up he went. He looked like he wanted to try and climb right out again, but it was moving, and from next on the line I was shouting up to him, It’s ok. Stay sitting down! Then we were at the top. So far so good. Except now we watched the row in front go down first, and Zeph did not want to do that. Persuasion? Not working. Going together? Not possible with Elly needing to ride in my lap already. What about holding hands?img_2018-04-15_15-10-01752390568.jpg
And he agreed.

He was nervous. He thought about backing out, especially when I had to hold his tube handle not his hand. But he agreed. And he did it. And then we did it again. And by the end of it, after I had to give up and wrap Elly to let him sleep because he’d been howling in the last two lines (not the ride… that bit he actually seemed to enjoy), he went with just his friend and another mum.

And I was SO proud of him.

Next up: aqua park. Zeph saw his friends jump in with their rubber rings, and in he went after them. He preferred me to stay close and hold his ring where the water was deep, but in the shallow play pool he was off. There were bubbles pools, water umbrellas, slides, water walking balls (which we didn’t try), a stepping bridge thing to try climbing across…. Elly was also in his element. He’s such a water baby!img_2018-04-15_15-06-021625829586.jpgI am proud of my kids always, but I was especially proud of Zeph that day: he was super brave trying two new things and on top of that the other mums twice remarked what a gentleman he is when he held the lift door open to make sure everyone was safe, and when he wanted to pour everyone drinks at dinner.


Suncheon Expo Garden

We spent a lot of Spring and Autumn days happily wandering around Suncheon Garden last year and Zeph has been asking all winter about when we will go again. So today, along with a group of friends, was our first visit of the year. I’m not sure I would have braved the weather quite so soon if it hadn’t been suggested to us, but actually it was a great day!

We had gimbap picnic lunch and then took the Skycube monorail to Suncheon Bay Wetland Reserve. It takes 10-15 minutes each way and is one of Zeph’s favourite things to do. At the Suncheon Bay end there’s a small traditional-style rest area with traditional Korean games available to play: Juldarigi (tug-of-war), bowl-a-hoop, Tuho (throwing sticks) and Jegichagi (like Hacky Sack).

Zeph of course headed straight to play in the gravel but did get round to trying some other things too. He found the hoops pretty frustrating at first and didn’t want to try anymore after the first go, but after a while he came back to it and developed his own special trick of rolling it and then catching it again on the stick. Elly was super quiet all day – he barely said a thing or made any noise at all – but he had lots of fun too, especially getting an ice-cream to himself because Zeph insisted they have one each instead of share.

There’s actually a lot more in the Expo Garden that we didn’t get around to today, but some of our friends had other stuff on and after all, as a first Spring trip out after a lazy mostly-at-home winter, it was probably enough for all of us. Elly was falling asleep even as I wrapped him in the baby wrap on the Skycube back, and Zeph was tired enough to ask to go home rather than play in the park with the friends who were still available. AND!!! Wonder of wonders, after almost a week of haywire, frustrating bedtimes with both of them being crazy and sleeping much too late, they are both now alseep!

Tonight I’m a happy Mummy.


Feels like Spring in South Korea

The warmer weather seems to be coming! Sort of anyway. So what better activity than gardening! I wish wish wish we actually had a garden, of the outside space variety, but failing that we have a few pots that we make an attempt with.

Two years ago Zeph and I had some lovely tomato plants and some lettuce (How to get Zeph to eat lettuce? Grow it ourselves!) But with Elly’s arrival I didn’t manage to keep it up and our (reduced number of) pots have been sitting waiting to be used again.

Today we planted some flowers and lettuce seeds and we’ll see what comes of it.