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.

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.