Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Sick Day

My Wednesday began like most: I fought with the alarm clock and the alarm clock won. However, when I got out of bed, my head started spinning. It was that sick headache that comes with the flu and bad colds--where your head seems removed from your body.

Well, I fought it and got to the shower and felt better. I fixed myself a couples eggs for breakfast and went about my routine. I don't normally have breakfast, but the medicine I've been taking the past few days for tonsillitis has to be taken with meals. In the picture are the standard medicine packets containing all the pills for each dose. Included are a couple Tylenols to fight my fever, an antibiotic, a digestive aide (I guess the antibiotic is hardcore), and an anti-inflammatory.

I swallowed my pills with some water and left the apartment. I was very upset to find that my empty water bottle that I had left out to be exchanged by the water delivery man had been kicked down the stairs to the landing below mine. I suspect that it might have been my drunk neighbor across the hall. He likes to come home drunk and kick the door loudly for hours if his girlfriend locks him out, then when he gets in the house, he likes to kick her around. I replaced the bottle and left. I still couldn't shake the sick feeling though.

I get into school fine and go into my first class. Wednesdays are pretty straight-forward. I teach straight from the book for each of my classes. The teachers save the "conversation" portions for me to teach. My first class was really awful. Three students in particular really got on my nerves. There was a kid who was throwing bits of eraser across the room, pissing off another student in turn. I employed textbook class management techniques. I made eye-contact with him. Then I caught him a minute later and told him to stop and took away the bits of eraser in his hand. Two minutes later, I caught him again and sent him to the back of the room to stand for the rest of the class (this psuedo time-out is pretty standard in Korea).

I made the same progression with two girls who were discussing drawings they had made with one another. This time though, when I walked over to them to ask them to stop, they ignored me! I was right next to me, and they kept talking like I wasn't there! I had them go to the back on time-out as well. The class was a little better with these disruptive students out of the way.

Then, a most annoying thing happened. You know that "if daddy says no, go ask mommy" trick? Well, these girls played it on me. I teach with a Korean co-teacher who is notoriously lax on discipline. Her concept of classroom management:
  1. Have the students sit next to their friends
  2. Put the "bad" students in the back of the class and ignore them
  3. Speak in a normal speaking voice so only the first two rows can hear.
  4. Ignore students who are talking
When I saw her tell these students to sit down, I was not happy at all. I continued with the lesson though and then went back to my desk after class to cool down. I felt even sicker. Waves of nausea began to hit me. I took a few drinks of water before the bell rang and felt better. Then, I went to class with my other co-teacher. I got about ten minutes into the lesson before I had to leave the students to go hug a toilet. When I felt I could stand again, I grabbed my things, and rode the first bus home.

On the way home, I considered returning to the doctor to see if it was a bad reaction to the medicine. But, his office is on the other side of the island, and I wasn't up for the long ride. I considered going to a clinic in town, but there was no guarantee they'd speak English. Just the thought of having to pantomime my condition to a receptionist and a waiting room full of curious Koreans made me want to puke, so I plopped back in bed and tried to sleep it off.

I'm still not sure what it was that made me sick: the medicine, those eggs I cooked (or undercooked possibly), or being overridden by a soft teacher. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the medicine; that night, I fixed myself a little something to eat and popped another package of those pills. I decided that potential nausea is better than swollen tonsils I've had for a week. Ah, to be sick in Korea.


  1. hey can i ask;
    what clinic do you go to?
    once i would like to go to the doctor by myself and tell him/her my ailments (not mime) and him/her fully understanding...

  2. There's a clinic in Okpo, a town on the other side of the island. The clinic is named Fatima (pronounced Pateema by Koreans). It is a "foreigner's clinic" although I've always been way outnumbered by Koreans there. The staff doesn't speak English, but both doctors do. Its just down from that intersection where you turn into area where the Ambassador Hotel is.


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