The $58 fruit fly: my experience with emergency medical assistance in Korea.

So I had probably the worst night of my life in Korea, and all because of a stupid fruit fly!!

Was fucking around, reading some late night mcspirk when a fly buzzes around my ear and i go to swat it away. It decides to take refuge IN MY EAR. Obviously I panic and start batting at my ear. It decided TO FLY IN DEEPER.

AND THEN IT GETS STUCK IN THERE. At first I’m like: okay WHAT DO. As batting at my ear wasn’t making it better, I panic and start shaking while I’m trying to type on my phone what do when things in your ear. and then it starts buzzing and then it starts ACHING. And then the hyperventilating starts.

That’s when I was like I CAN’T DO THIS I’M HAVING A PANIC ATTACK AND I CAN’T DO THIS. so I look up emergency numbers. The one I remembered offhand wasn’t picking up (the 02-1339) for some reason so I just was like ‘you know what, they must have someone who speaks English on 119’

I called 119 and they didn’t have anyone that spoke English. I start panicking some more. They said ‘AMBULANCE?’ I’m like ‘NO ENGLISH SPEAKING MEDICAL PHONE HELP?’ because there is no way I can afford an ambulance, even in Korea right now with just going to Japan and a huge country move and the possibility of Rome and Greece.

All I really wanted was some advice and whether or not I should go to the hospital or if I’m just being paranoid and there was things I could do at home instead so I don’t waste anyone’s time. But he insists for my address and I give it to him.

Five minutes later, the ambulance arrives with a wheelchair and I’m like ‘I JUST HAVE A BUG IN MY EAR.’ and they look at me with judging eyes. I was like ‘I’M SORRY I’M A FOREIGNER I TRIED TO TELL HIM…’ but they were like…whatever, come with us.

So they take me in the ambulance to the hospital right down the road. I’m still in the middle of a panic attack and everyone is staring at me because I’m a foreigner who looks like they’re having a panic attack. because I’m HAVING A PANIC ATTACK.

The nurse, bless her soul, is the only one who seems to not be judging, only really eager to get my information and smiles really kindly and I finally calm down to a simmer of anxiety.

The doctor comes over about 10min later with a scope and REALLY LONG SCARY TWEEZERS OF DEATH. and I’m wide-eyed and the trauma nurses are looking on with interest from across the way. He proceeds to try to DIG IT OUT OF MY EAR. I’m OBVIOUSLY unable to stay still because he’s DIGGING INTO MY EARDRUM WITH THE TWEEZERS OF DEATH. He’s impatient and can’t get at it because he just can’t see it. It’s small and digging its way further into my ear. And I’m here panicking because first of all, in a place I’m unfamiliar with, and two, there’s a FUCKING BUG STUCK IN MY EAR AND YOU’RE TWEEZERING INTO ME WITH THE TWEEZERS OF DEATH.

Obviously I am ridiculously close to fainting by now and the trauma nurses are trying really hard not to stare and giggle at my plight as they watch as I grimace in pain as he pokes and prods repeatedly into my ear.

Finally, after about 5 tries, he gives up and calls a different doctor. This doctor is the ear, nose, throat doctor, the one that people usually go to for shit like severe colds and stuff. The lead me toward this doctor, who is located on the other side of the hospital.

I come in and he’s like ‘sit here’ and turns on this machine that makes this horrible whirling noise.

I remember this noise. this noise is the noise from that time they sucked stuff out of my nose and traumatized me from Korean hospitals. I try not to cry from fear.

He puts a scope into my ear, tells me something in Korean and then I feel a burning in my ear. I ask ‘why does it hurt’ in whining Korean but he’s already got the sucker going into my ear and I can feel the fly fighting for its life as it buzzes insistently in my ear.

And then it’s gone.

The pain, the horrible buzzing, it’s all gone.

I rejoice with the man who has become my saviour and he looks at me with amusement and tells me to go back to the emergency room. I almost skip all the way there and give a little cheer and am promptly embarrassed when the security guard hears me and gives me a shibrow.

The doctors and nurses watch as a waltz in again and they smile at my smile. they know I’ve been cured. they ask, curiously, what it was. I told them it was a small bug. a fruit fly as I had suspected. they seemed unimpressed but I was like ‘that dude could have done major damage who cares if it was small’

And then I had to face the biggest problem of it all. beyond the pain or the buzzing or the anxiety that had evaporated along with my passenger.

The Bill.

Now, I have been living here in Korea for quite the while, so I’m not particularly scared of bills when it comes to medical. but I took an AMBULANCE. to the EMERGENCY ROOM. and that just SCREAMS debt in the worst ways.

As I took my medical sheet over to the ‘home base’ as the doctor had called it when I had asked where to go next, the cashier seemed unconcerned by my trepidation. it was a long night for him as well I’m sure.

He rings me up.

57,800 won. I blink. I ask if card was okay. It was.

For those of you who don’t know the conversion, that’s about 58$. For an ambulance and emergency services. I know I shouldn’t be shocked but i was. I mean yeah, I knew medical was the cheapest in Korea but that should have cost way more than just 58$. I took an AMBULANCE for christ’s sake.

58$ and a panic attack. that should be the title of my memoirs. or at least the blog post I’m going to make of this. The moral of the story is to not have panic attacks when flies buzz their way into your ear. Or, at least to my American friends out there, not to panic over the medical bill whist in Korea.