Day 3-5 (3/22/2008)—
What? What’s happening? I just opened my eyes and I have two Asian nurses standing in front of me. One is wrapping gauze and tape on my arm. The other is checking my blood pressure. I feel someone rubbing my shoulders. Yep, another Asian. Where am I? What happened? Is this the start of some kinky fantasy? No. Well, okay, maybe. However, it was not this time. No, I just forgot that I was in
Unfortunately, I was at the hospital for my medical check-up to qualify me for my Alien Registration Card. Ever since I was a kid, I have had the propensity to blackout when I get needles stuck in me (even though I can take 90 bee stings on one day and willingly go back and get 90 more bee stings the next day with no fear, go figure). And, unfortunately, when you register as an alien here, they draw like a liter of blood. Okay, I really have no knowledge of the metric system, though I am learning. I know it is wussy to admit it, but, yes, I blacked out in the hospital in Gimpo during my alien registration exam. It blew monkey chunks.
So, I got my alien registration exam. I met John at the school on Wednesday morning. John is the school’s go-to-guy. Just as an aside, everyone at the school has an English name. John is Korean and born and raised in Incheon. He speaks English pretty well, but conversation is definitely limited. He is the one you call if your apartment has a problem and he takes care of the Alien Registration process for the school. Sometimes what John does seems to be in the realm of the school’s handyman, but he is definitely more than just a blue collar worker. Well, I can not really think of him that way because of his immaculately clean suits. But, then everyone wears a suit. I am pretty sure that if I ever (I haven’t yet) see a homeless bum over here…they will be wearing a freshly pressed suit as well. However, John has a college degree and such and his duties include much more than just fix-it stuff (is it weird that the guy who worked at Home Depot for a couple of years after getting his B.A. is using a degree to imply someone is above manual labor?). It just happens to be that all the times in which I interact with him involve apartment fixing or chauffeuring.
Anyways, John told me the night before to meet him at the school on Wednesday morning. He specifically said we were going to the hospital, which I had known, in advance, was coming and stated, “Matt, only water…you be empty…”, while gesturing to his stomach. I was dead tired at the time or I would have said to him that he meant “hungry”, but I understood his meaning anyways. So, the next morning he took me to the hospital and we went station hopping. Pretty much every test was done by a separate nurse or doctor. First, the blood pressure. I was a super high 130/80 (well, it is super high for me, considering I am usually 100/60), but then I was in a bloody hospital. I have a feeling that a vast majority of heart attacks (okay, I first wrote MIs there) that occur in hospitals occur because YOUR IN A FREAKING HOSPITAL! Second, I had a hearing test, which I passed because it was easy and I could see which button the nurse was pushing so I knew which ear the sound was supposed to be going to. Third, a dentist looked at my teeth. My teeth aren’t that great, but I don’t have any contagious diseases in there, so I am not sure what the Korean government cares about that for. Fourth, a nurse drew my blood. My Korean pocket dictionary doesn’t cover “blackout” and it is difficult to discuss possibilities with a limited English speaker. So, that was embarrassing. Fifth, I gave a urine sample. Nope, despite rumors, I do not do drugs and never have. Sixth, I had an X-Ray of my upper torso. Finally, some doctor poked at my hands (they were a deathly gray color still from the blackout) and signed off on my medical form.
Fast forward to Friday. After getting my certification of good health back, John and I drove (well, he drove) to Incheon to the Alien Registration Office. They accepted me as a Martian and now once they send me my actual card back I can get a bank account (no more drug dealer cash bundles hidden in my apartment, thanks), good internet (at the moment, limited to school and a very bad hotspot connection at home), and possibly even a scooter (not a Vespa because they are pansy, but some cool Korean scooter (it’ll probably named Vespa, but written in Hangul (as long as I don’t know, right?))) if I am feeling ballsy. Note: you know you’re a wandering mind when you find it completely normal that I used three sets of parentheses when talking about that scooter.
So, all that was to explain why I said I was going to the hospital. I am still feeling well. Though, I have a slightly sore throat. I hope I did not catch tonsillitis from the girl who had it at work. I am praying that I didn’t. And, no, I have not swapped spit with her or anything…before anyone asks.