Health

Multiplicity

A few weeks ago I ran into problems registering my son's name with the local district office, and I said it wasn't likely to be the last time having a multicultural child was going to cause problems in Korea. Well I didn't have to wait long for the next issue to raise its head – our son's health insurance bills have arrived and because his Irish surname takes up four Korean character spaces (it's four Western syllables), there was only one character space for his first name rather than two – so he's lost the last syllable of his name. I should have seen this coming because – with my middle name - only the first syllable of my surname appears on my health registration – and this is how I get called out in the hospitals.

The Hornet's Nest

Apparently Namhae has killer bees. Or something like that.

Korean Father was out very early in the morning on top of an isolated mountain mowing the grass around his mother's grave, during the last days of the summer's heat. It has to be done otherwise it would become unkempt and that would be disrespectful, and since graveyards in Korea are generally small and don't employ anyone to maintain them, it's a family responsibility. The graves of those with no nearby or surviving relatives can often easily be spotted as isolated patches of chaos in an otherwise ordered scene.

Falling from the rib-breaking tree and hitting every branch

It is no laughing matter that my father-in-law fell from a tree and broke some ribs but there must be some way to work that cliche in.

On Monday, my f-i-l was collecting persimmon, when he fell. Now, he was hurt and seriously to need to stay in the hospital for a few days, but don’t think he fell from a tall pine or maple or the like.  Horticulturists could better explain, but as I understand it, you clip the main growth bud of a young tree and major branches grow instead.  This way you can have many more fruit-bearing branches and all close to the ground.

So, he fell and probably hit a branch on the way.  He went home, and probably went to bed early.  The next morning, he was in great pain so he decided to visit a hospital.  There he was diagnosed with broken ribs, admitted to a room and had his lower chest wrapped.  I suspect he was given pain-killers.


That didn’t take long

I prepared ahead – albeit insufficiently – for November and Nanowrimo.  I’ve had an idea for a novel for some time now and have wanted to try writing it.  I have written short fiction and essays short and long for this blog, a few magazines and my students.  I was ready, I felt, to extend myself…

No point in being wordy now.  It will take an extreme effort of will to continue at this point.

Oh, Nanowrimo, for those unwilling to follow the link, is short for national Novel Writing Month.  The organization is international now, so the name is both cumbersome and incorrect.  Anyway, the goal for Nanowrimo is to type 50,000 words during the month of November.  Quantity is important and quality is not.  This makes sense to me as the first step is a sort of brainstorming, with the expectation of massive revisions coming afterward.


When the Smoke Clears

I really don't like mosquitoes, the dreaded Korean 'mogi'. Recently I related some of my mogi-chasing stories to someone here and she seemed to think it was more amusing than I did. When I got home, I asked my wife, "what's so funny about that?" She told me that Korean people don't usually bother enough about mosquitoes to spend an hour out of bed in the middle of the night chasing one with a newspaper. OK, that's fair enough, I may be a little crazy. But look at it this way - I'm a completer-finisher*. (*I wish - I'm actually a dangerously high scoring 'shaper').

But am I crazy enough to want to run trucks around crowded streets spraying insecticide at everyone? No - so who are the crazy ones now?

Horror Hospital

Recently I wrote about some of the problems my wife and I had experienced with the maternity hospital we were in, but things were going to turn out to be worse for other people in what seemed to me like a perfect storm of Korean cultural issues.

Feral Cats

A co-worker recently posted a notice in the office of a baby cat near his apartment and asked whether anyone would be interested in taking it home.

I love animals and grew up with there always being a dog or a cat and often both in the home.  Yet, I didn’t even bother to bring the subject up with my wife.

If we opened our apartment to cute little furry critter, we would do it again for the next and the next…

I honestly – and sadly and despairingly – wonder if poison or traps or other lethal tools should be used to clean out the feral cat populations in Korea.  I guess that in Busan they are doing no harm – I am sure I could think of some way they might be- but the constant sight of them just fills me with pity.


Back To Basics: Brushing Your Teeth

For the past week, I’ve been struggling to learn something new:
How To Brush My Teeth.
No, I’m not a gross girl who doesn’t brush her teeth… but I have apparently been brushing my teeth the wrong way… my whole life!
It doesn’t matter how great you look or how white your teeth are if you don’t
have clean and healthy teeth.
-Improper brushing can lead to

Access Denied

Twenty minutes after my son was born, I was finally able to take my first picture of him... through the glass partition of the 'Baby Center'. But that was more than my wife, who despite being awake wasn't able to see him again until 4pm Sunday afternoon - eleven hours after the birth.

I said a mistake was made in those precious few seconds after his birth, and it was that my wife handed our baby back to the impatient staff at their beckoning, and not to me. I would have liked to have held him. But they wanted to take him away and clean him up. It didn't seem unreasonable and I didn't think it was going to have the consequences it did.

Holding the Baby

Baby

Five days ago my wife gave birth to our first child, a boy. Over the last couple of years, we'd talked about whether it was better to have a baby in England or Korea. I've always been impressed with the Korean health system - yes, it costs money, but it is fast and efficient in comparison to the slow lumbering bureaucracy of the British National Health Service. Korea seemed to be the clear winner. Now I'm no longer sure. I want to document my experience here as a possibly cautionary tale for other people who find themselves in the same position. Had I known a few months ago what I know now, things may have worked out differently.

I'm splitting what I have to say into the before and after - a tale of two halves if you will, and then there may be quite a lot of post-match analysis, so if you don't want to know the result, look away now.

She's Having a Baby

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