15 February 2006

What's This?

Not too long ago I was asked in a job interview "How do you handle impossible situations?" I almost laughed hysterically but managed to come up with something believable like, "Oh, I get creative".

Impossible situations? How about every day of my life! I provide transportation and "translation" (now THAT'S a joke right there) for my in-laws on all their many medical appointments. It can get..uh..complicated.

For example, right now Halmoni is in the midst of getting her cataracts removed. This requires no less than 12 appointments. There is the initial consult, then for each eye the pre-op visit, the surgery, the one-day, one-week, and one-month follow up visits. Finally the vision check-up. There are multiple eye-drop instructions that are different for each eye and change on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. ("Use the white drops in the right eye on Tuesday but by all means don't put them in the left eye until Thursday, and be sure to use the yellow drops in BOTH eyes until next week at which time you discontinue it in the left eye only but be sure to RESUME it in the left eye on Wednesday" etc.) By the way, the second eye is operated on two weeks after the first one so for a while you are figuring out post-op AND pre-op instructions at the same time. It's confusing for ME! Imagine how it is for her getting everything in a foreign language. Furthermore, I understand precious little of what Halmoni and Halaboji say. Although, I have to hand it to Halaboji in that he is sharp as a tack and understands my "Korean" better than just about anybody.

Anyway, the eye-drop instructions are so complicated that I was making up some charts to clarify it in my own mind when I got the idea to make up daily charts in Korean for Halmoni. I wrote the day of the week on top of the page and then made RIGHT and LEFT eye columns. Then I drew tracings of the bottles and labeled them with Korean words such as "pink top", "white and blue bottle", and "yellowish liquid". (Yes, I made good use of my electronic Korean/English dictionary. The problem is, Korean, like English, has SEVERAL words for each meaning. I was sure hoping to get the right one.) Finally I wrote the number of times the drops should be applied beside the pics of the bottles. It wasn't so bad. I had to trace the bottles and label the columns only one time and then made photocopies onto which I added the day names and number of applications. I was so proud of myself. Until looking at the picture just now I see I misspelled the word "left". Ah well, the important thing is she can understand it.

Halaboji goes in for his cataracts next!

Yes, I got the job. The question is, do I have time for it?


Hannah Im said...

Oh, no! That is an impossible situation for sure. But congratulations on your new job. Keep us posted.

Robin K said...

Mary Beth, I laughed HARD at your post on trying to explain in Korean the medicine situation to your in-laws. It reminded me of last Sunday when I was supposed to get a written note in Korean from Chae on the Korean way to say Korean Youth and Community Center. The Asia America Youth Orchestra is going to try to play in Koreatown during spring break. We know the ex. director of the center and so the conductor was telling a Korean mother (who is writing my English into Korean) about the center. She didn't know the center by the English name and asked for it in Korean. BUT of course, I forgot to get Chae to write it down. So from orchestra, I called him as he was driving up a windy mountain rode a couple of hours away to go to a meeting. We kept loosing reception, so he had to recall me several times. All the time I was getting a couple of syllables written. It was comical at best. He'd say something and I'd say, "Is that with an O or an oh.." trying to figure out the vowel sound specifically so I could write it correctly. Finally I got it all, much longer in Korean than English!, and handed it to the conductor making him promise to tell the lady that it is my writing and not my husband's. I'm sure she'd think he was totally illiterate when she saw it. I still haven't the nerve to show him what I actually wrote. He was working so hard to sound it out slowly for me while I'd be yelling (like that helps when there is bad reception) "..did you say D-ut or P-ut?... is that an uh or an oh..? Oh well...Robin

Patty said...

heheeh, Bethy, I just am amazed by you ! You are so funny and so creative. To be honest I am not one bit surprised. You have always had a great sense of being able to find solutions to any problem.

Sunny said...

HA HA HA and I mean it. Now my husband points out that I put the LEFT eye meds on the RIGHT side of the page and vice versa-labeled correctly at least. It will be a MIRACLE if that poor woman gets it.

Mama Bird said...

My word, girl, taking care of Halmoni and Halaboji is a full-time job itself ... plus the rest of the household and not even adding a paid job in there as well. Plus, you manage to do it all with such an upbeat attitude!

So are you going to have to redraw it all with the meds on the side of the paper she'll identify with each eye?