But remember - land of the 90% solution. They will give us fantastic service when we go in to get our physical (the blood tests were done within 10 minutes of our entering the hospital). The first time, when the doctor is "unavailable," they apologetically e-mail me the physical results -something you have a lot of trouble getting from US doctors because of confidentiality. But come hell or high water, come phone calls or e-mails, they WILL NOT TELL US WHAT ANYTHING MEANS. I mean, maybe Mike Chan can clue us in, but when I see a result that says "MCH/pg/N/29.4," I'm out to sea. I always just sort of expected that this would be, oh, I don't know, the DOCTOR's job?
So, where were we? Oh, yes, the Wednesday morning phone conference that wasn't. I called back to see how I could get an explanation of the results, and they tell me that everything is normal. As discussed, I am not a doctor, but I can read the column heading "Standard," and I can tell when a number is not in that range, and there are at least a couple of things on these test results that are not normal (Not need-to-panic abnormal, but "hey, let's review this" abnormal. That one was for the moms). I insist that I need more information from a doctor. Finally somebody gives me Dr. Linton's supposed e-mail address and tell me that if he doesn't write me back, I should call on Thursday.
Wild guess - he doesn't write me back? Duh. So I call on Thursday, and they tell me to call on Friday. At this point, Blues Traveler's "Runaround" is going through my head like an evil theme song, and I insist on scheduling a concrete call time. "12:00," they say. "12:00, noon," I repeat. "Yes. 12:00 speak with Dr. Linton." "Okay," I say.
And yesterday I call. And yesterday he is still unavailable. As a last-ditch effort, I leave our Korean cell phone number for a call-back - last ditch because, like everything else, it has a distinct chance of not working. Frequently our phone just decides not to ring, and sometimes when it is ringing, it decides not to let us pick up. And because I am learning to be paranoid, I look up his e-mail in the hospital's online directory. Wonder of wonders, it is NOT the e-mail they gave me. So I send another email and wait.
This morning, having kept the phone on us continually for 24 hours, we magically have five missed calls from the hospital. FIVE! How is this possible??? At this point my will and ability to speak civilly have been drained and broken beyond all hope of repair, so Justin steps in and calls the hospital back.
And Dr. Linton is unavailable.
We do not know who has been calling us or why but the man on the other end, a Mr. Cha, swears up and down that someone WILL call us back on that cell phone number.
Note that pauses indicate the side of the conversation that I can't hear.
Fine, says Justin, but can we please make an appointment with Dr. Linton for Monday just in case? You know, since he won't talk to us on the phone or in e-mail, maybe he'd talk to us in person?
Are you telling me I can't make an appointment?
Insert Nana's head exploding. You're a CLINIC. That's what you DO. You MAKE APPOINTMENTS with PATIENTS.
We conclude with Justin taking what this man claims is his personal cell phone number, which we are to call if nobody calls us back. I have resisted the urge to type "when" instead of "if."
Anyway, I'm royally cheesed off. If they had talked to me any of the first five times I tried to contact them, we would have had plenty of time to get the information we need and go in if we needed to. Now we only have one business day before we go to Malaysia for a week, and it's going to be a real pain in the backside to get over there and get anything done.
I'm wondering if this is some kind of "Asian no" phenomenon. I've mostly heard about it in Japan (Dave Barry's book Dave Barry Does Japan has a whole gag about it) but I don't know if it's done in Korea. Basically, the idea is that culturally, it's impolite to tell somebody no, so you tell them anything else: "You would like a blue sweater? Oh. Perhaps you would prefer the red sweater?" instead of "We don't sell blue sweaters." Our after-school Korean teacher won't tell us that anything is grammatically wrong - it will usually go something like "X? Hm. I think Y would be more correct." "X is okay, but Y is much better."
So maybe what's been going on is they just don't want to tell me "Doctors don't do telephone consults." Instead they keep saying, "Um, Dr. Linton is unavailable. Perhaps another time would be better."
You know what I say to that? NO.