Have you ever had a conversation with someone who speaks English as a second language? Even though you can talk to them, there is a lot of conversation missing and it is sometimes difficult to really get your point across, this is especially true when it comes to medical care. Last week I went for a follow up appointment with my oncologist because I’ve been having some pain in my chest. Sharp, shooting pain on my right side. I wanted to find out if it was normal, could I do something for it, get the doctor’s opinion.
The doctor understood that I was having pains, but he couldn’t give me much more, so he referred me to the surgeon. The next day I went to the surgeon and the conversation wasn’t much different. He heard me out, told me that some women have pain after a mastectomy. He did an ultrasound of the breast area, but didn’t find anything. Throughout the appointment there wasn’t much conversation. He wasn’t as comfortable talking in English as Korean. He said don’t worry about it and keep up with my quarterly checkups.
I went away feeling like I needed more. I need an oncologist who “gets” what I’m saying and can not only tell me to not worry about it, but can help me find ways to get rid of the pain or manage it. This led to some heavy conversations with my husband and the decision for the boys and I to move back to the United States. The oncology care isn’t the only problem here at Camp Humphreys. It would take four weeks just to get an appointment with my primary care physician here on post. That is unacceptable. There is no emergency care, so we are sent to the local Korean hospital. Benji had a high temperature and we suspected he had pneumonia so we felt it was important to get meds as soon as possible. I had to wait almost 30 minutes for a parking spot and over two hours just to have a doctor look at an x-ray and tell me if we were Korean he’d put him in the hospital. To top it off, the doctor couldn’t speak English so I had to talk through a translator. He would speak for about 3 minutes and the translator would say “He has pneumonia.” Seriously, I know I missed some important information. Thankfully, Benji was better in about a week, but the health care situation is unacceptable.
I’m not sure why the Army continues to send families to a place that is not equipped to handle even basic emergencies. We are in the process of getting an Early Return of Dependents for the boys and me. Basically, we know the health care is not adequate for my situation and I need to be back in the United States where I can have the best oncology care. I’m headed back to the US tomorrow, because I need time to establish care in time for my next quarterly update. It will be a tough transition, but we’ve decided it is the best thing for our family.
I really, really, really can’t wait to walk around Target again.