LIFE IN KOREA: A Podiatrist Worries About My Marriage Prospects

by Jimalee Sowell, 16/03/2009

I've shared with you my personal experiences in the emergency room, at the dentist and with LAZIK surgery. Now, here's the final (so far) chapter in my medical experiences diary. My subsequent happiness with the LASIK surgery had me ready to turn up the heat. “This time, I want to do something that involves some serious cutting.”

Since I had been told that the hospital where I had had my laser eye surgery was one of the best in Korea, I decided to see what I might be able to do about a problem that had begun about five years earlier but that was getting increasingly painful - my bunion problem. So, I made an appointment to see a podiatrist.

In my first visit with Dr. Park, he explained to me that if I really wanted to solve my problem, surgery would be necessary. He then explained that he was 50/50 for and against the surgery, saying a great deal of deciding whether or not to do the surgery depended on how much pain I was having. I was actually reassured by the fact that he wasn't too quick to recommend surgery.

“I’ve had much worse cases than you who don’t complain about pain,” he said. “Then why do they come to the hospital?” I wanted to know. While trying to come to a clear decision as to whether to do the surgery or not (admitedly, many people live their lives suffering from debilitating bunions). He then asked me if I was married. I thought, and so did my friend, who accompanies me on hospital visits and serves as translator, that his intention in asking this question was to find out whether or not I would have someone to take care of me while in the hospital. “No,” I said, “but my friend can take care of me.” Turns out we were wrong about the purpose of his question as we discovered when he warned, “Well, you’re going to have a scar”. 

The light bulb went on in my head. Having surgery means having a scar, which means being a damaged package. (But then, how does he know... how can he be sure I don’t have a multitude of scars on other parts of my body?) My friend and I couldn't help but laugh a little.  It seemed like a ridiculous notion to us, and we ensured the doctor that scarring wasn’t such a big problem in our culture, especially feet scars.

Well, I’ve had my bunion surgery, and I have a scar, but I don’t think that’s what’s preventing me from getting married.  


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