To the doctor – Korea style

by Mike Still
To the doctor – Korea style

Going to the doctor is rarely a fun experience, unless of course you’ve got a cute nurse.  Then again that was your doctor’s office back home.  In Korea going to the doctor can be a tough and downright frightening experience.  Not being able to communicate means you don’t understand whats wrong with you, what treatment you are getting and what the medication they give you does.  I messed up my ankle 2 weeks ago and have seen 3 different doctors;  none have spoken worthwhile English.  The earliest English friendly appointment with a specialist at the Seoul National University Hospital’s International Clinic is August 3rd.  I’m trying to negotiate an earlier time since it happens to be a 5 minute walk from Hyewha Station and super convenient to get to.

Thankfully I’ve had Ronda at home to help.  I’ve been icing my foot nightly and don’t really know what else to do.  The last doctor spoke some English and sent me to Physical Therapy attached to his office. The catch was his nurses didn’t even know what happened to me.  Oh and they spoke no English.  They laid me down on a massage table and put a flashing red light on my ankle (which I had to show them as my ailment).20160511_171007

Getting to Seoul National University Hospital
Hyewha Station 
– Line 4 Exit (3)

Take the escalator up and walk straight.
Take your first right and walk up a slight hill.
The main entrance is at the top of the hill on the right.  You’ll see an ambulance parking lot.

Seoul National University Hospital

International clinic is on the 2nd floor.  Up the escalators and behind you on the right.
Make an appointment by filling out the form HERE

For the last week I’ve been able to walk without limping but I still feel like I’m hobbling.  Everyone I ask tells me I’m not limping but putting any weight on my foot hurts. I can start to move it around but its still very tender.  The swelling is worrisome but has gone down significantly even so keep icing it and think I need to switch to hot & cold.  Google has helped a but I’m concerned that I should get some physical therapy and in Korea that appears to be difficult.

After about 10 minutes of flashing red light A the nurses came back with a new device.  Upon arrival we attempted to talk Korean which was laughable so they told me this is a “microwave light.”  Or maybe they just said microwave.  Okay so I’m nuking my ankle in hopes of healing it now?  Well that’s why I’m off to the hospital so hopefully I can get a real explanation.  2 weeks ago my ankle was so swollen that he didn’t notice the other injury.  My Korean “Orthopedic Surgeon” poked it a few times to see where some pain was and proclaimed “maybe I think minor tendon tear.”


“microwave lamp?”


I’ve been to SNUH a few times for minor issues and their international clinic was a great front line but its a toss up for how much English the specialists speak.  I’m hoping I can get some answers and a timeframe for returning to my usual ambulatory self.

I haven’t been able to exercise much.  Its rather frustrating since I was training for a Spartan Race and a pretty active dude. Heck, I’ve led dozens of hikes up the best Korean mountains and am not really used to a sedentary lifestyle.  In fact, I regularly laugh with Ronda about whether or not I can stay still.  Ironic isn’t it?

Well either way I’m hoping this light combination with 4 prescriptions work cause the weather is finally getting nice out!  Seoul is quite lovely in the spring and this past Saturday I spent the whole day at Han River Park.  I hosted Seoul’s 2nd International Flash Mob Pillow Fight which drew a great crowd but I could barely participate in 🙁  I let a friend take the Panda suit and walked around with the GoPro.  Stay tuned for hopefully good news about my foot and a mash of up of pillow fighters representing countries from around the world!


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Mike Still
Mike is a travel enthusiast, photographer and teacher. He loves adventure travel, meeting the locals and exploring new culture. As an outdoor enthusiast you can often find him hiking mountains or exploring forests trying to capture the beauty of mother nature. In 2013 he founded as he left his home in America and has been teaching or traveling around the world ever since!

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