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...