Know how I know I lived without health insurance for a few years? Because when the rattling shrapnel in my lungs turned this color-
-it didn’t occur to me to go to a doctor. Haha! Doctors! And now, because of the evergreen hope that I’m getting better (I’ve been repeating this phrase for 4 weeks), I still won’t go. Know what I did instead? I ate my entire store of Dayquil in three days (three awesome days that I will never remember) and did what I used to do in those times of olde when I was sans health care: I sucked it up. However, this cold is different. I think this cold is terminal.
Who’s to blame? The Petri dishes we call elementary schools? The strong sense of community in Korea that keeps us in close quarters with each other, regardless of disease? The constantly open windows that welcome December to roll in and settle in my bones? My stubborn American belief that wearing coats is an outdoor activity and that buildings were meant to be heated? Me, for scoffing at antibiotics? It doesn’t really matter now, because I’m drowning in my own fluids. Pity me, ye healthies! (The few of you that remain; I think everyone in Gwangju is battling some form of this infection.)
Since I have been exhibiting symptoms for months now, it follows that I would be on the receiving end of some Korean remedies/preventative medicine. Here’s a few I’ve gathered. Pear Juice
Effectiveness: I’m still dying.
These are fucking everywhere this time of year. I’ve eaten more in the last 3 weeks than my entire life, and though no one has outright told me they will help a cold, I’ve been conditioned to believe in the power of The C.
Effectiveness:I’m still dying.
An enormous jar of this sliced ginger arrived in the office I share with a few other teachers at Mae Gok Elementary School. There was a lost-in-translation moment where I was like “Ginger!” and they were like “No!” but it’s definitely ginger. I was told it was awesome for colds, but talk was had about me replacing my coffee drinking with it. Cracka please.
Effectiveness: For all I know, this could be the Holy Grail of cold remedies, but cheating on my coffee is unthinkable. Thus, I’m still dying.
Fucking Huge Scarves
Effectiveness: Wearing that would only incubate the disease that is responsible for my impending, inescapable death.
Not so much a cure as a courtesy to others. One that makes sure you’re breathing the poisonous fumes of your own sickness all day. I refuse. Though I thought this one was bad ass/super Asian so I bought it. And shortly after I contracted Death Cold.
Something like a Walgreen’s would suffice, a place where I can walk in, choose a bottle of Dayquil, complete a painless transaction with the clerk and be on my way to sedated bliss. This is not how things are done at the pharmacies near my home, at least. One can buy nothing but a toothbrush without consulting the pharmacist on duty.While I’m sure they are nice enough, every time I’ve tried to interact with one, my English-speaking presence is greeted with such undisguised horror that I feel like Frankenstein encountering his first torch-&-pitchfork-bearing mob. The last time I found myself in a pharmacy was to plead for some Tylenol to ease a hangover. The pharmacist thrust a box at me and (I think) didn’t care if i paid until I started waving money around. Just get out – GET OUT ! Leave us in peace, beast!
Effectiveness: Effectively embarrassed me so that I can’t go back again. Probably the root cause of my death.
That there’s a moon bear. It’s endangered pretty hard. There are farms in Korea (and other parts of Asia) that make a business of harvesting their bile for medicinal purposes. And it sounds funny and gross and stupid, but as a single bear gall bladder can command 3400 USD, you can see that business is booming and there is no end in sight to this quackery. So if I went to a practitioner of traditional medicine here, there’s a possibility I’d come away with a prescription for this. I don’t know about you friends, but dammit, I’d rather suffer my way through this than consume the bodily excretions of a goddamn cute-ass bear. You have to wonder what kind of a weirdo the first dude to try this was. “I’ve been a little under the weather, ya feel me bro? See that bear hanging in those shrubs? I been thinkin about suckin some evil black shit out of it and swallowing. Just like your mom. Burn!” That’s just crazycakes, Ancient Chinese Witchdoctor.
And, to save Erin, please leave a comment with the amount of your donation, your address and/or your credit card number. (please include CSC code and expiration date.) This Christmas, why not save a life?