Teachers Share their Experiences While Living Abroad!

Got an Ache While Teaching in Korea? Try Visiting the "Doctor"

Posted on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 @ 04:00 PM

As the first month of the New Year has come to a close, my friend and I have been really working hard to try and hit our health goals. We would work out anywhere between 75-90 minutes for 6 days a week trying to get Busan body ready. However, with all of this physical exertion, it was bound or one of us to get hurt. That individual just so happen to be me.

After lifting heavy, I pulled one of my shoulder tendons and it was becoming really difficult to sleep at night since I sleep on my side. If you have worked a winter intensive camp at ChungDahm while teaching in Korea, you know that you need a good night’s rest to be able to keep up with these young kids. After consulting some of my Korean friends they recommended I go to the ‘doctor’. The version of the doctor that I have in my Western mindset is completely different from theirs. The ‘doctor’ that they were referring to was an acupuncturist. Skeptical, I talked to one of my American co-teachers and he said that he visits it too when he isn’t feeling well. I thought to myself, this couldn’t be all that bad if everyone around me was going. Normally, I could have gone to a normal Western doctor and that would have been fine and a little bit more expensive, but I figured I should try this since it was closer to my job. 
acupuncture in Korea
Taking my new health insurance card to the acupuncture office across the street from my academy, I was a bit nervous and scared. I always envision the main character from Hellraiser and that I may end up like him. Furthermore, I wasn’t sure if the doctors there would speak enough English for me to get my point across. My Korean teacher wrote down what my problem was on a sticky note and I headed that way.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how clean the office was. It didn’t have candles burning everywhere with the smell of incense lingering. Instead, it looked like an actual doctor’s office. With my nerves at ease, I handed over my health card as the receptionist filled out the forms. Luckily for me, she spoke enough English which allowed us to converse. She then escorted me to the main doctor who diagnosed me. She too spoke English so I was really comforted.

I was lead to go to a bed behind one of the curtains and to remove my shirt so they could proceed with the treatment. If you choose to go to an acupuncturist, make sure that the curtain is closed before you take off your clothes. I caused quite the laughteramongst the ladies at the office. In total, there were 4 treatments.

1) Electronic Massage w/ Infra-red light – Anytime I can get a massage, I am really happy. These electronic suction cups felt like miniature hands and they tenderized me. All I kept thinking was, ‘man I wish they could put it on both sides of my shoulder’. They then asked me how the pressure was and left me alone to listen to the calming mix of 1980’s music alone for 10 minutes.

2) Lit Porcelain Cups – When my friends were telling me about acupuncture, they all failed to mention this. I was really scared but didn’t want to tell the doctors this. All I kept thinking was that I would have these giant red spots on my body for weeks. I could hear the flame light up the porcelain cup so it could stay suctioned to my body. In all honesty, when the first cup was put on, I jumped. But I steadily got used to it. Thankfully, it only lasted 10 minutes.

3) Acupuncture Needles – This was my first time going for acupuncture and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The main doctor put the needles in my shoulder, hand and foot. She told me that the nerves are all connected and that it would make me feel better. It wasn’t so bad until the needle entered my foot. It felt like I had stepped on a thumb tack. However, the pain was
quick and I only had the needles in me for 15 minutes.
acupuncture in Korea
4) Eye and Leg Massage with Hot Stone – This treatment was my favorite. I do not know if it was related to my shoulder injury but it felt really good. They put these massage pants on me and it really soothed out my muscles. They also put an eye massage pack on me that was supposed to increase blood flow. I passed out within minutes and was sad to hear the clock go off.

The doctor told me to that I should rest my shoulder for 10-14 days but that I should also go back for treatment 2 more times. I went every other day during a 5 day span. The first session only cost me 8900 won (8 USD) and the last two sessions were 6600 won (6 USD). I was shocked to see how inexpensive the treatments were.
acupuncture in Korea
The Overall Verdict: My shoulder feels a lot better and a lot looser than when I had not done acupuncture therapy. I am really happy with the decision to go and the service that the ladies provided. If I get injured again, I would totally go back to this office and get checked-up. Acupuncture may not be for all but it has made a believer out of me.

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Marc has been living in Seoul and working at the ChungDahm Learning' s Gangdong Branch for 4 years now. He has worked his way up from being a teacher and to a faculty manager for that location. He majored in Finance and Marketing at the University of Nevada Las Vegas while working as a manager for a national bank. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking the numerous mountains around Seoul and biking along the massive Han River. To know more about him and his adventures living in Korea, follow Marc on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku.



Tags: medical care in Korea, hospitals, medicine, acupuncture, medical

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