Originally uploaded by bandita.
The Chosun Ilbo has an English report on the current warning levels out here.
The country’s health authority has issued a nationwide influenza warning. The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said Friday that they issued the warning as the number of patients reporting flu-like symptoms exceeded the warning level of 7.5 out of every 1,000 people. As of the second week of December, the number stood at 9.63 people.
My wife says that according to the TV, there is nearly double the number of cold and flu cases reported in Korea this year. A visit to the hospital this morning seemed to support that; the waiting room at Sokcho Hospital had standing room only by 9:15am.
We have not been spared; my little boy and I have had back-to-back colds, sore throats, coughs and pneumonia continuously since the end of October, and now that I have just barely recovered, my wife has also come down with a cold, and my son has gotten so bad that he has been coughing to the point of vomiting. The doctor said this morning that this had been quite common among Sokcho kids in the past few weeks. And GangwonBrian’s boy has been fighting his own battle as well.
The Korean government has strongly recommended that all children and seniors be vaccinated, and warn that while a precautionary vaccination might reduce the risk of a more serious cold or flu, it is highly likely that most people will experience at least one case this season. (There’s not much in the English media, except for this page from the US Military’s Stars and Stripes.) Thankfully, there aren’t any bird flu outbreaks in this area, to my knowledge. My wife and son have both had their shots, but it hasn’t proven very effective against the playschool germs.
I myself have avoided having the shot because of the difficulty of explaining my phlebotophobia (fear of needles) and having doctors take it seriously. I have a strong involuntary vasovagal reflex reaction to needles and pricks, including a sudden drop in blood pressure, contracting blood vessels, clammy skin, nausea, and fainting. This is actually a common condition, one which is estimated to affect one in ten people to some degree.
However, when I tried to explain it to my doctor here before receiving an allergy test last month (it required a series of lancet pricks), he wouldn’t believe me until I had nearly blacked out. He kept on telling me that it didn’t hurt much, and I kept on telling him in my limited Korean that it didn’t matter.
I have tried mind control techniques to avoid this sort of reaction, but with little result. One time several years ago I bravely faced a needle being administered by a very attractive nurse, only to pass out two minutes later during the post-injection interview and awake in terror from a terrible dream. How embarrassing. For me it helps somewhat if I am lying down—it is still a very stressful procedure, but if I am in a horizontal position, I can avoid the blackout.
When I was younger, I reacted on several occasions to stories about poisonous snake bites (and yet I have no fear of snakes), and I had to walk out of the film Dead Man Walking (about a prisoner facing lethal injection) and an educational video about heroin use when I worked in a substance rehabilitation facility.
I’m starting to feel a bit queasy already, so I think I’d better stop here. (For those of you who also suffer from this condition, there are at least two excellent sites on the subject, here and here, and you can find a comprehensive medical article which may be helpful in explaining the condition to your English-speaking physician here.)