Getting 냉방병 and meeting Captain Obvious.

It was 3am and I was in the emergency room of my local Paju hospital.While explaining my symptoms, I wanted to tell him that I felt like I was transforming into a zombie but decided to stick to fever, headache and generally feeling terrible.The doctor then types some things before coming out with the classic “maybe you have a fever”. Wow! Amazing! I hadn’t thought of that one myself. Note the word “maybe”. This is a classic Korean word that can be translated to English as something that is definite. It’s not to be confused with the English word “maybe” which means that something is not yet certain.

No matter how sick I am, a trip to the doctor here is always an adventure. Last time, the doctor told me I was sick. Really? Sick? There I was thinking I had struggled in here for a medal and a chat.  If laughter is the best medicine then these doctors are doing a great job. The times I hobbled into the hospital when I injured my foot had me laughing at the question “where does it hurt?” There I was standing on my good foot wondering if it was a trick question. Was I on one of those shows where they film your response to obvious questions so they can gain more viewers?  Or maybe it’s like a test. If you get the answer right, you can see the doctor straight away. If not, you’re going to have to wait. I’m beginning to conclude that to qualify as a doctor here, you must have mad skills speaking obvious sentences.

This particular adventure was a whole other level of brilliant. It was decided that since maybe I had a fever, they would put me on a drip. This is a classic treatment here so I wasn’t too alarmed.  Excellent, 20 minutes they said. It’ll be grand they said. 1 hour later I’ve got the company of two others who look like they might have something similar to me. I felt good in the knowledge that if whatever was in the drip didn’t work, I wouldn’t be on my own as a Zombie.

After the hour, the doctor concluded that I most likely had 냉방병 (naengbangbyung). What is this you might ask. Well, that’s a good question. Directly translated, it means air conditioning disease. This time of year, you go from super cool air con to hot and humid outside temperatures so it’s really easy to pick up a cold or flu. I don’t know what caused my mad fever but 냉방병 is a great go to when you can’t find any other logical explanation ( flu, cold etc).

I tried to think of the English word for this but being from Ireland, we have no need for air conditioners let alone get the random air conditioning disease. This is right up there with Fan Death, not taking a shower for 24 hours after an injection and kimchi beating SARS in the list of great Korean medical terms.

After an hour on the anti zombie medicine, I felt like I might just pull through and stay human. The nurse sent me away with 3 pouches of mystery pills and the knowledge that she spent the hour practising her English. Thanks to the super cheap healthcare here, the whole thing only cost 13,000won (13 dollars).

Nobody likes being sick but at least in Korea, they make it somewhat of an entertaining affair!

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4 thoughts on “Getting 냉방병 and meeting Captain Obvious.

  1. You surely entertain your readers even in your darkest moments of what could be your “Zombie transitioning”!!! Great post as always!

  2. Sorry that this is a bit old, but I just found your post. ^^

    Some of the confusing or obvious things you talked about are functions of the Korean language that translate to English strangely. “Maybe,” “you are sick,” and “where does it hurt” have a little bit different meaning before they are translated. They might be better as “it seems,” “I’m sorry that you are sick,” and “let’s take a look,” respectively.

    It looks like you have lived in Korea a while now so maybe you found this out now. Or perhaps I took your post too seriously. ^^ Anyway have a good day.

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