I recently had an issue with an ingrown toenail. It's been an ongoing issue, actually, but I didn't have time to take care of it before leaving the US. That's a shame because I had been seeing a really good podiatrist for bunion surgery. Actually, I think it's because of the bunion surgery, and having limited mobility for almost 4 months, that when I arrived in Korea and started walking a lot the toenail problem came back with a vengeance. I won't disgust you with the nasty, infected details but after a month of walking around in pain, waiting for my health insurance to be processed, by the time I was able to see a doctor things had gotten pretty bad.
|The bus terminal, where my new doctor's office is.|
A few days later it started to bleed. After taking a look at my toe, which I was asked to display in the teacher's office, everyone agreed that I should get that nastiness taken care of. My co-teacher asked if I wanted to go back to his doctor and, assuming I now needed surgery and remembering the office and the Grand Central Station approach to privacy, I said I wanted to go to the big new hospital. "But my doctor has a lot of experience," my co-teacher insisted. "Hospital doctors are young." No, no, I thought. I don't want some horse doctor yanking on my toenail in barn-like darkness. Big new hospitals are better.
At the big new hospital, under bright lights and in complete privacy, a young doctor looked at my foot, thought for a few moments and then asked me if I wanted surgery. "Why are you asking me?" I sputtered out. "You're the doctor." He then had a long conversation with my co-teacher in Korean, which could be summed up as, "Let's wait and see." I did not feel comforted in the least bit, and my co-teacher doubted this youngster's skills as an MD, so back we went to the country doctor. There, in the half-light of his hallway examination room, the country doctor explained to me that prevention was the best medicine, and that even if I had surgery the problem could recur again in as little as a month. His English was pretty good but I wanted to make sure I absolutely understood what he was saying so I asked him the same questions repeatedly in different ways, and he patiently answered them all. "The bleeding is a sign that the toenail is healing," he explained. That's all I needed to hear. My fears were allayed.
When I got back to school, my toe once again swabbed in iodine and wrapped in gauze, I relayed to my co-teacher what the doctor had said. "You were right," I told him. "That doctor is great. He really made me feel at ease." And as my co-teacher headed off to his next class, I added, "From now on, he's my doctor too."