Monday, October 27, 2008

Medical Mayhem

I was working on a project in my room and the roommate was washing dishes, which was fine by me. I hate doing the dishes and if I don't have to more the better. I worked on getting my work done when suddenly I heard "Oh, mother...dammit, fucker!" I hoped up and ran for the kitchen just in time to see my dear roomie running for the bathroom.

"Are you okay?"


"Are you okay?" I looked into the water running over his finger and notice it is deep bloody red and the water was running fast.

"That does not look good," I said.

"You think, give me some tissue."

"I think you are going to need stitches."

"I'll be fine."

"You need to go to a hospital and get stitches."



"It hurts."

"Right. Hospital?"

"Dammit, okay."

I run to get my shoes and down the street we go to the biggest hospital in town. It's a block and a half from my apartment so we decided to walk in the cool night air.

"Are you feeling dizzy?"

"I'm fine."

"You've lost a lot of blood. How many fingers am I holding up?"

"15 million."

"Your delusional, not good."

We skip into the hospital and go through the front door but find that we are not in the right place so walk down another hall. And another. Finally the roomie sees the sign that says emergency and starts to take us that way, but the hospital is big and does not provide great directions. We end up at a map but not where we are going. Finally I ask a passing doctor who walks us out another door around a bend and towards the emergency room.

We walk up to the counter and my roomie hold out his hand. They direct us to another counter. Here the attendant speaks English.

The roomie holds out his hand.

"This hospital is too big," she says. "I'll send you to another just cross the street and get a cab and you will be there." She prints off a map for us and sends us on our way. We walk across the parking lot and wait at the light for the change to cross the street.

"I wonder how many people have died waiting for this light to change," says the roomie.

"You're not helping."

Finally we manage to get across, get into a cab and get on our way.

"Shit," he says.

"You okay?"

"It's bleeding a lot more all of the sudden."

"I know how to tie a tourniquet. You need a tourniquet?"

"How do you know how to tie a tourniquet?"

"Where I grew up we all had to take hunting safety classes, it was part of the basics."

"Okay, what do you need to tie a tourniquet?"

"I will need one of your shoelaces."

"What if I don't have shoelaces?"

"What do you mean?"

"I'm wearing Velcro shoes," he says, "let's use one of your shoelaces."

"Nope, I'm wearing loafers. No laces."

"We are woefully unprepared."

"Yep, guess your going to have to die for our lack of quality footwear." We giggle as we move closer to the next hospital. When we get there we walk into a very small room with two attendants and place the bloody finger on the counter.

They don't speak much English but the problem is pretty obvious. They usher us into an emergency room that is empty but for one other patient. The doctor comes around and asks us what the problem is.

"Stitches peer-i-o-hada," I say "hako Tetanus."



"Oh, yes, tet-a-NUS-uh! Nay, okay."

He and the other orderly take the roomie away and ask him some questions which the roomie answers easily in Korean. They take him around and lie him out on a bed.

"Can I get you anything?" I ask trying to be helpful.

"Well, he is sitting on my arm for no readily apparent reason, but I think it would be rude to ask him to move." I smile amused and the orderly settles himself in.

The doctor looks up and says something but neither of us understand. "Moy-ya?" we both ask.

"You will be in pain." Okay, I think, he is in pain. Then I realize that he is about to administer the general anesthetic.

"Oh, fuck!" Says the roommate as the needle is introduced to his finger. I think, he will be in pain, how accurate.

All together it took about thirty minutes from arrival to exit for the stitches and the shots. My roomie is uninsured and had to pay a whopping fifty dollars to cover the stitching (16 dollars) the tetanus shot (25 dollars) and an antibiotic shot for good measure (10 dollars) and then about 17 bucks for the miscellaneous supplies.

"In the US we would have waited four hours and paid like 500 bucks," I say.

The doctor looks at  us. "My Englishee no good."

"Maja," I say, it's good. We smile and walk a few stitches heavier into the cool fall night.

1 comment:

GeologyJoe said...

thats about as good a result as you could get.