On Wednesday, I had another appointment at Dongsan Hospital (because that's where the gastroenterologist lives) for my meds and such. I went a little early so I could stop by the dental clinic across the street, Seomun, for a cleaning.
Last time I went to the dentist in Korea, it was pretty awful. The guy had prehistoric equipment and while he scrubbed quite thoroughly before checking me out, he did not use rubber gloves while brutalizing my teeth. My gums developed sores for about three weeks following my appointment with this man. Needless to say, I've been terrified to return to a dentist since then.
However, Seomun clinic is clean, the receptionists and hygienists, while unable to speak a word of English, are super friendly and efficient. I was in and out in under 60 minutes. Also, since fear had kept me away for a long time, they wanted to do a second procedure in a week, but said it was ok to come when I got back from America. Furthermore, this follow up cleaning would be FREE (included in the 60,000 won fee--that's less than $50). Rock on, you awesome dentists. Also, one of the guys spoke some Spanish. I understand Spanish, but having studied so much Korean I can no longer speak it--it comes out in Korean word order (Yo espanol tres bien hablo... See? Just BAD).
So after my positive experience at this dentist, I went over to the hospital's international clinic for my appointment. The translators and doctors there are getting to know me all too well... Anyhow, after a lovely appointment where my doc declared my disease "in remission" (yay!), I went to get my prescription from the pharmacy next to the hospital.
There was a problem. The pharmacy (also not English speaking) said I needed to go back to the hospital. Something about health insurance. I can barely understand health insurance stuff when it's in perfect English, so I went back to the hospital, slightly annoyed with the pharmacist.
However, I should not have been annoyed because the pharmacist was looking out for me. Turns out that after a few months with this chronic disease, I have to register my diagnosis with the Korean government to continue to receive benefits for my doc appointments and medications. So one more trip to my GI (who I LOVE because he said it was his fault, even though I didn't say that... if you know anything about Korean doctor culture, you know this makes him more rare than raw sushi!), and I've been registered as having a "rare disease." Yay Korean government! Yay socialized medicine! Yay doctor and pharmacist!
The only weird thing was the translator at the international clinic made some crack about how "my country is paying for you," which smacked of bitterness.
I kept it light and responded, "Well, I work pretty hard for your country, so I always understood it was part of the deal."
She laughed, which is good, but still. Being an immigrant in a nationalistic country does sometimes blow (sympathy with those back in the U.S.).
Thank you, Korea!