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Toe the lion

I got up relatively early today and headed out to Eulji Medical Center, the hospital where I had my Immigration tests a couple of months ago, with the intention of seeing a dermatologist about my warts. The 1224 bus is the one I took to Peter’s place, so there was a soupçon of nostalgia involved in the short journey. I remembered that it passed the hospital; I hadn’t picked up on the fact that the relevant stop was actually Hagye Station.

Once at the hospital I asked at Information for some directions. I assume the middle-aged man didn’t understand my English enquiry, but I added, ‘Pibugwa?’ ie, ‘Dermatology?’ and he said, ‘I-cheung,’ ie, ‘second floor’ (ie, ‘first floor’). Once at the Dermatology department I had to wait a few minutes for a nurse to come and man the desk – and then, of course, she barely spoke any English.

After some good-natured confusion, she kindly accompanied me to a central Reception/Payment station where neither of the clerks spoke English either. She made a couple of phone calls, but still couldn’t find an Anglophone. (I didn’t plan that rather tenuous pun; it just happened.) Then she went away for a bit, then came back with another nurse just as an admin person came along from the other direction – both with the intention of translating for me. It was the latter who helped me with the process, which was a little more complicated than attending a clinic.

Janssen Sporanox

Back at Dermatology, I waited for a while for a consultation. The dermatologist spoke good English, and I showed him my warts and athlete’s foot. For the latter, he prescribed some pills (incredibly colourful ones); and for the former, he recommended cryosurgery, which Wikipedia describes thusly:

Cryosurgery, which involves freezing the wart (generally with liquid nitrogen), creating a blister between the wart and epidermal layer, after which the wart and surrounding dead skin falls off by itself

After paying for the treatment (₩40,000-odd, on top of ₩12,000-odd for the initial appointment), I had to wait another while to be seen for my liquid nitrogen ‘surgery’ … but not before I was given a hospital card with my name (in Hangul) and a cutesy baby angel professor on it. Ah, Korea.

Eulji Medical Center Card

For the procedure, I sat on a bed with my bare foot directed toward the doctor. A nurse brought the liquid nitrogen in some paper cups nested together; she tripped and nearly spilt the lot over the doctor sitting at the end of the bed. The doctor explained that the procedure would be very painful. I don’t think I’m particularly squeamish when it comes to pain, but I wondered exactly how painful it would be.

Along with the paper cups of liquid nitrogen, the doctor had a box with some swabs of various sizes made of bits of wood with cotton wool wrapped around one end. It was all very high-tech. She dabbed the swabs in the steaming frosty brew and then pressed them against the warts, which are all either on my left big toe or nearby on the ball of the foot (on the ball of the toe, there’s actually a patch of mosaic wart – lots of warts crowded together). On the instant of contact, there wasn’t any pain, just cold; however, the doctor pressed the firmly and after a few seconds there was an increasing burning sensation. Not pleasant, but not screaming agony, either.

I went away treading tenderly and with an appointment for a second treatment in a fortnight.

Initially, the pain wasn’t too bad, and I could walk fairly normally. Later on, though, maybe as a result of increasing tenderness, maybe because I deliberately avoided putting any weight on my left toes, it seemed to get worse. Some of the warts have developed sizable blisters; on others the ‘cyst’ (as the doctor who performed the treatment called it) is hardly noticeable. Apparently, I can expect a couple of days of pain. I wonder what I’m going to do at taekwondo tomorrow.

For now, enjoy this photograph (you can also see the bruise on my fourth toe from taekwondo on Monday).

Blisters, warts and a bruise

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Categories: Health & Exercise
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