Our first experience with the Korean medical system! - A Movement In Time And Space
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Our first experience with the Korean medical system!
Well, it wasn't bad, the system I mean. Pretty good and, compared to the US, really inexpensive!

All morning long, Nadia wanted to nurse. And I kept refusing her. She's got this thing about nursing now and I'm almost at that point where I want to wean her. But I haven't yet because of all the upheaval in our lives, with all the travel and the moving, it is the one thing that comforts her quickly. But I keep trying to put her off when she asks for it, except in the mornings, for naps, and at night. So, I thought nothing of it when she kept wanting to nurse this morning. At about 11am, Nadia started this strange breathing. Like she couldn't take deep breaths. Very shallow and fast. But then, it stopped. So, while I noticed it, I thought that it was just a short-lived thing. I got lunch ready for them around 12:30pm. Just as we sit down to eat, she starts that shallow breathing again. But this time, she just cries and doesn't want to eat. Complains about her tummy hurting and also points to her throat. Plus, she has a fever. As the breathing gets more labored, I start to freak out. I called Chris and said, "I'm freaking out a little, Nadia can't breathe!" Ok, probably a little more dramatic than I intended, but it freaks Chris out too. He decides to leave the office and come home. We decide to meet at the pediatric clinic down the street from us. As I get Maya to finish her lunch and drink all her juice (which I had mixed with water), I also get Nadia to finish most of her tomatoes and her juice too. I think she is probably dehydrated. Then she nurses and falls asleep. She is so tired. I also take her temperature, which is at 100.6 degrees F. Chris calls us when he is almost at the subway station by the clinic. I put Nadia into the stroller (she wakes up when I put her in, but she's so tired that she doesn't even fuss), and the girls and I head down to the clinic. Chris is there by then. We go up to the clinic and its closed! The place is under renovation and we can't read the sign well enough to see if they have moved into another office in the building. At that point, I call Kelly (Paul's wife). She tells me that there is a clinic in Yaksu (not far from us) but she can't tell us directions to get there. So, she gets ready and picks us up in her car. She and her friend and her son, Mason, who is about 3 months old, get us. She tells us that she is going to take us to her son's peditrician, which is in Apgujeong, not far from us, just across the bridge. Takes us about 20 minutes to get there. Nadia is still breathing with difficulty and crying in pain, it seems. Definitely something wrong with her. :-(

Anyway, we get to the pediatrician. After a little wait, we get in to see him. With Kelly there, she translates everything. The doctor checks her out and says that her lungs and airways are clear. He can't find anything wrong with her. But he says that if the labored breathing continues or gets worse, to take her to the hospital for xrays. So, that's it? One of those "Nothing we can do about it" things. Just give her lost of liquids and tylenol or the like for the fever. Then it is time to pay. We don't have insurance yet, so I'm a little worried about how much it will be. Chris goes to pay, comes back and tells me that it cost us $11 without insurance. WoW! Might have cost us about $50 or $75 in the US without insurance just for the doctor's visit.

Anyway, we decide to go home. We drop Chris off at the station so he can head back to work. At this point it is about 2:30pm I think. We start driving back to our place when Nadia's breathing gets a little faster. I decide to take her to the hospital anyway. I don't want this to get worse, especially when it comes to her breathing. So we head over to Soonchunhyang University Hospital, just a few minutes from our apartment, and near to Maya's school. We get in, they check her out, and then they tell me they want to take some xrays. Great, I wonder how much this is going to cost me without the insurance. (By the way, the reason we don't have insurance yet, even though we've been here for a month and Chris has been an employee since January, is because we don't have our Korean residency cards. Don't ask me why it takes this long, but chalk it up to something else that I just can't do myself to get it done fast.) Anyway, find out that it will cost me $97. $97 for four xrays!! Wow, ok, that's doable. Sheesh.

So, they take the xrays. Poor baby, I had to hold her legs while the tech held her upper body. She was such a trooper though. Only whimpered a little, but I was there, so she seemed to just deal with being manhandled. Got them done and about 5 minutes later, they were on a computer being shown to me! The doctor sees that Nadia's tonsils were swollen. That's why she was breathing the way she was, it hurt her to breathe. Everything else was fine, her lungs, her airways. She was definitely dehydrated and she had some sort of infection that was causing her tonsils to be swollen. Here's the kicker though: they wanted to admit her for 2 or 3 days to get her rehydrated and to watch the infection! Yikes! After talking to the doctor more and talking to Chris (who was on his way back to the hospital now), we decided to take her home with us. I seriously didn't see how she would keep an IV in her arm, plus who the heck was going to watch Maya?

Told the doctor that we weren't going to admit her (it would have cost us about $50 a night to have her admitted, plus medication and materials...still, not bad for not having insurance!), went to pay our ER bill. Ok, are you ready for this? About $7 for the ER visit. $7!!! Oh, and the medication (three different things) was included. Ok, so our grand total for the whole day was $115! That's doctor's visit plus ER visit plus xrays! And that is without insurance.

If the US was like this, we wouldn't have a national healthcare crisis...

Tags: , ,
What I'm feeling: exhausted exhausted

6 thoughts or Leave your thoughts
threeparts From: threeparts Date: July 27th, 2005 01:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eek, the poor darling! I am so glad it didn't turn out to be anything more serious, but you definitely had a right to be freaked out.
The bill: I have no idea what the American system is like, but you seem to be happy with it, so it must be good. Unexpected benefits like that must be very welcome. :)
priyabradfield From: priyabradfield Date: July 28th, 2005 02:18 am (UTC) (Link)
The American system is pretty bad if you don't have insurance (and sometimes even if you do have insurance!). All that would have probably cost us between $1000 and $2000!
asynjur From: asynjur Date: July 27th, 2005 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hope Nadia feels better soon! Take care!
kaffy From: kaffy Date: July 28th, 2005 12:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow! I certainly hope she starts feeling better! poor thing!

And those prices..wow.. amazing.
gnotobiotically From: gnotobiotically Date: August 7th, 2005 05:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh my!

That is a dreadful thing to experience...

When my oldest brother was about 2 he spiked terrible fevers and would cry relentlessly. (My father never condoned letting us go to the ER, even though he was military and medical care was free - I think he was scared that they would findout how abusive he was, but that is beside the point I'm making here...)

Anyway, it got so bad that my father let us take him to the ER, they couldn't find anything wrong at first so they decided to take X-Rays. They put him in this platic tube thing to hold him still (it was extremely painful for him coz he was squirming like crazy, he ended up pretty bruised from it)...

It turned out that he had serious ear infections, they had put the tubes in so his ears could release the pressure building up.

I am very sorry that this happened to your family, but I am glad that they didn't have to take your arms and legs for payment like they would here.

I wonder how much an ambulance ride would would cost in Seoul...
slave2three From: slave2three Date: August 8th, 2005 06:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I hope she feels better soon.. being sick is never fun.. specially for a babe.... and the momma!!
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