Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Hospital Saga: Part III

I missed three days of classes while trapped in the hospital, and some of my students made me Get Well cards. These are some of the best ones:

 This one included a sweet picture of me rocking the power eyebrows and quite broad shoulders. At least I'm more proportionate than poor Kevin views himself. Also, this is not "Oh. Teacher. No. Dirty!" Kevin. I have two Kevins and two Harrys.
 When I first saw this one I was appalled. My oldest students are about 13, and this would not be appropriate for school...then I realized it was from one of my coworkers and the world was right again.
 This one is from Sophie, who insists that ET lives on Mars. Apparently one thing which makes people in the hospital feel better is Playboy Bunnies. I'm sure there are some people who would feel a lot better if there were Playboy Bunnies in their hospital rooms, I, unfortunately, am not one of them. I still love the juxtaposition of the bunny and ET Love though.
 This is my favorite. The sick picture is actually pretty accurate. I didn't leave the hospital with those awesome, juiced out, Popeye muscles though, so I am not the model of health in Harry's eyes or my own. :(
 The muscle picture also came folded in this snazzy way.
 Rachel likes me because I'm nice and pretty. Guess who gets an A on their essay this week, Rachel?
This one depicts a person in a red sweatsuit bleeding from the eyes under an apple tree.

Those are the best ones.

The Hospital Saga: Part II

Being trapped in the hospital in a foreign country for two and a half days while feeling completely fine provides a lot of opportunities for both boredom and observation...but mostly boredom. I should say here that my coworkers were so, so great. They came and visited me multiple times, and packed me up bags of magazines, crosswords, snacks (they didn’t know that milky medical IV feed sack it the most delicious snack), and sodokus. Despite my bag o’ fun, I still spent many hours lying in bed watching the women around me. All the rooms had multiple people in them. There may have been single rooms somewhere else in the hospital, but all the ones I saw has 4-6 people in them. Anyway, the cast of characters is as follows:

Frog Lady: This was the loudest and most outspoken of the characters, so named because of her frog-like appearance. She did not posses the ability to chew with her mouth closed, ate excessively, and seemed to be self declared master of the remote and room lights. She also had a strange predilection for pulling her hospital outfit pants up to under her boobs every time she stood up from her bed...I know this because she would pull her shirt up to reveal her exceedingly saggy boobs resting on her pants each time she did this. Frog lady’s bed was situated kitty-corner to mine across the room, and she was therefore the person in my direct line of vision the most frequently. This woman was my secret nemesis.

Monkey Lady: I wish so deeply that I had a picture of this character. She stood about 4’8” and weighed in at perhaps 80 lbs. She also had the squeaky, high pitched yet gravely voice of a cartoon character and hair that stuck directly out from her head in what would have been an afro if she had about eight times more hair. Not only did she lack the ability to chew with her mouth closed, she frequently made sucking and smacking noises with her mouth for no apparent reason which made me want to leap out of my bed and end her. Monkey Lady’s bed was situated directly across from mine, which hindered my view of her from my frequently horizontal position.

Barfing Lady: This was the only character in the room who actually seemed ill. She spent most of the time barfing, hence the name. I did not hear her speak. Ironically, Barfing Lady was significantly less annoying than both Frog Lady and Monkey Lady.

Old Lady: While both Frog Lady and Monkey Lady were old, Old Lady was the oldest, and thus earned the title of Old Lady. She was not a hospital patient, but seemed to be the mother perhaps of Barfing Lady who was staying in the hospital to attend to Barfing Lady 24/7. She, like Frog Lady, was quick to comment on everything happening in the room. My final morning in the hospital, when I could eat for the first time in four days and sat looking at the Korean style breakfast of kimchi, soup, rice, seaweed, and two other things I couldn’t identify, she came over to my tray and took all the little lids off for me and unwrapped my seaweed for me. I must have had that stupid-foreigner-who-only-knows-how-to-eat-out-of-milky-medical-IV-feed-sack look about me. Old Lady and Barfing Lady’s beds were next to Frog Lady’s bed, also facing mine, so they were also frequently in my frame of view.

Next to Me Lady: This woman did seem ill sometimes. She was unremarkable. Additionally, because her bed was located next to mine, I couldn’t stare at her and observe her without it being very obvious.

I wanted to keep a war-style journal:
Sunday 2:28pm, Day 4, Frog lady stares at me, speaks to me for the first time
Sunday 4:14pm, Still Day 4 Right elbow has lost any concavity it once had and is filled to a disgusting swollen blob with milky medical IV feed sack fluid
Monday 11:32am, Day 5, Frog lady eats for the fourth time before lunch
Monday 12:58pm, Still Day 5, Monkey lady climbs on top of her bed to be able to reach her IV bag, detaches from the holder, balances bags atop her sparse afro and leaves the room with bag on head...seriously
Tuesday 9:09am, Day 6, Korean soap operas causing IQ to drop

...and in this manner I spent Sunday, Monday, and part of Tuesday. Well, this and trying to talk my way out of being stabbed with more needles, which did not, on a single occasion, work. Part three shall include pictures of the best of the Get Well cards from my students.

The Hospital Saga: Part I

Here is a saga for you all about living in a foreign country if ever there was one. It involved my recent release (this morning) from four days in Korean hospital. Oh. My. Word. Let me set the scene....

I woke up Wednesday with a bad headache, which was strange, because I very rarely get headaches, but, with the exception of feeling very tired, I was fine. As the day progressed however, I felt worse and worse, and by the end of the school day, my students were reaping the benefits of my suffering because they were getting free time solely to ensure that I didn’t barf on them while trying to continue teaching. By the next morning I felt horrible. I had bad chills, a terrible headache, and spent the morning and early afternoon throwing up (it should be noted here that the receptacle of choice so I didn’t have to drag my feeble, worthless body to the bathroom, was the empty “Mixed Nets” container which you may or may not remember from previous posts). Anyway, one of the Korean director-teacher people took me to the hospital which sounds really extreme to us, but as far as I can gather, it seems that if you’re sick here, you go to the hospital and see a doctor instead of going “to the doctor” as we would at home. There are also hospitals all over the place, as I would soon learn far too well.

The cliffs notes of the following four days are as follows: The doctors couldn’t figure out why my fever was so high or why it wouldn’t go down with the meds they were giving me, so they admitted me. The twelve or so hours following that mostly involve me writing in my bed and throwing up a lot. Initially, the doctor thought I had some sort of Japanese mosquito virus disease which Koreans apparently get vaccinated for at the beginning of the season. Turns out that was not the case. Then they though I had meningitis, so I had to move to a different hospital with the meningitis expert doctor....until we arrived at that hospital and the meningitis expert doctor was at a different hospital, leading us to a third hospital on the quest for the elusive meningitis expert doctor. This is where the high point of the four days really plays out. Picture me feeling like I’d like to die, barfing all over the place, being led through all the tests I’d already done at the first hospital, not understanding what people are saying to me, and crying. The real pinnacle of the experience involved me attempting to give a urine sample with IV needles in both arms, crying, while my poor, meek, sweet Korean co-teacher holds up my IV drip bag thingy in the bathroom of the ER. No, Ladies and Gentleman, it was not a pretty sight...oh, and I didn’t even have meningitis.

I was then admitted to the second hospital for the next three nights. Turns out the problem had something to do with my intestines being coiled when they shouldn’t have so I couldn’t digest food. I figure that due to the language barrier I ascertained maybe thirty percent of what the doctors actually knew about the issue. For all I know, there was a live hamster in my intestine, but the word for hamster was inconveniently left of Pocket Medical English, and I therefore was left ignorant of this fact. Who knows really.

Anyway, by Saturday night I was beginning to feel fine, and by Sunday I felt completely recovered, but I still wasn’t allowed to go home because the doctors had to make sure the hamster was out...or sorry, they had to ensure that there were only the proper number of coils in my intestines. I’ll save the titillating details of feeling completely healthy and being held against one’s will in a Korean hospital for Part II.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week Three

I’ve officially crossed the three week mark here in Ulsan, and everything is going well for the most part. I try to keep track of the funny little things I find here to post, but I usually just end up forgetting about them and not posting. For example, the other day I finally decided to buy myself some sort of device for heating food, so I can stop living off cereal and yogurt. I purchased myself a “Fly Pan” from a home goods store near my apartment. It closely resembles a frying pan in every way, shape, and form, but because the packaging so proudly declared it not a fry pan but a fly pan, I will stick with than moniker. On the same note, I bought a pack of “Mixed Nets” which, to the naked eye, would appear to be mixed nuts.

I had a big day on Friday when I understood for the first time something one of my students was saying to another student in Korean. First, I should note that the kids aren’t supposed to ever speak Korean in class to begin with, because I’m sure the majority of what they’re saying before I start yelling at them to stop speaking Korean is along the lines of, “Look at stupid Seaweed Teacher. She doesn’t even know we call her Seaweed Teacher. Baaahahahaha.” Yet on this particular occasion, in one of my more rambunctious classes on Friday, I was able to distinctly pick out “Your mother is a man.” Yes, ladies and gentleman, my Korean has officially progressed to the level of eleven year old boys’ insults to one another. Unfortunately my small victory was lost on my students. Immediately after I proudly chastised the student (it should be noted that said student is Kevin of constant homework avoidance fame) by saying that the other student’s mother was not, in fact a man, but most likely a lady, he simply smiled back at me laughing and saying, “Teacher, Teacher, I say his mom a man! [insert laughter at his own hilarity here]” Apparently he found his insult so brilliant that he couldn’t trust my understanding and felt the need to translate for me. This is the same kid who, after choosing an English storybook for his weekly book report, brought in his own copy of the same book in Korean which he apparently had at home to show me his genius ability to cheat on his book report. He still didn’t do the book report. I hope he never plans to pursue a life of crime, because if he eludes the police for even a day, he will undoubtedly run down to the station to tell them the details of his crime so everyone can appreciate his work. At least he keeps me entertained.

In other news, this city has more mosquitoes than anywhere I’ve ever been, and they all seem to want to have some sort of Korean mosquito orgy in my apartment. I counted over twenty bites on my body the other morning. I looked like some sort of walking case of full body herpes. Apparently they sometimes come up through the drains. I’ve plugged all the drains up now, and that seems to have helped.

The school has finally sent in our applications for our foreigner cards. They were waiting for the two other foreign teachers who arrived later to have their health checks finished to send all the applications in together. They apparently do not see having a phone or a Korean bank account as pressing issues. Anyway, now that the applications have been sent, it shouldn’t be too long until I finally have internet that is neither stolen from my neighbors nor requires the purchase of a $4 cup of coffee. Until then...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Believe the Children are our Future....

....but if that's true, South Korea is doomed. No, I'm kidding. Today is the end of the first week of teaching. In generally the kids are really great. They're inadvertently hilarious all the time, but some of them are a bit naughty. One of my favorites is called Kevin (all of the kids have English names for English school) and despite the fact he really cannot sit still for the 40 minutes of class, he cracks me up. The other day we had a reading about tornadoes and, after insisting that he knew what a tornado was but repeatedly drawing a circle with dots on it with a plant growing out of the top as a representation of said tornado, we finally determined that he was confusing tornado and potato. Later in class the word tomato came into the mix as well. Kevin also currently has a cast on his arm which he spends about half of each class trying to slide his arm out of, and i think he once was trying to tell me that his father hit his sister with a baseball bat, but that it was ok, because he only hit her lightly. He also expressed extreme concern when we read a story about a silly family who ate dinner in the bathtub saying, "Oooohhh! Teacher, no! Dirty, dirty!" I have another little girl who loves E.T. and tried to tell me the reading was incorrect when it stated that nothing can live on Mars, because, of course, what about E.T.?

Not all of the kids are so funny though. I have two classes of kids who just stare at me wide eyed. You would have thought I threatened their lives the first day or something. They act terrified. Two of them are these little twins girls who both always look so afraid. When they get extra afraid (e.g. I look at one of them, or, god forbid, ask one of them a question) they stare look at one another with what I can only imagine is their twin ESP "The crazy foreign lady just asked me a question, and to survive the remainder of class I now need the aid of the dual life force we shared in the womb" look.

For the most part though, things are going very well. I have yet to buy myself any hangers, so my clothes storage method consists of all my shirts and sweaters laid on top of each other on top of my suitcase in the middle of the room. I also have yet to purchase a pot or pan, so cereal has been a main staple of my diet.

That's all for now. I hope everyone's doing well at home. I'll update more regularly when I get internet in my apartment. Adios for now.