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A certain oriental medicine hospital’s third floor in the Gwangju metropolitan center.
Suddenly, a pitiful scream rang out.
An ice-cold silence settled.
The hospital started bustling and humming with noises. The scream that had cried out just before was definitely the third floor, and this was because from the fifth floor to the seventh floor, where the patients were hospitalized, the scream resonated and spread.
Even the patients that had been asleep for the morning were startled and sprang out from the wards.
At the same time, Lee Tae-Joon who lived in the same quarters was startled and bolted straight up. As he looked at Shi-Hyeok looking as if sleep had just escaped from him, he asked cautiously.
“Shi-Hyeok, did you have a nightmare?”
Shi-Hyeok looked at Lee Tae-Joon with glazed eyes.
The image of the blood-red hound the size of an ox running at him was vivid even now.
The vision of Lee Tae-Joon before his eyes and the image of the blood-red hound were combined into one.
Shi-Hyeok shook his body.
It had been a truly awful and frightening experience. The intense memory of his death disturbed Shi-Hyeok.
He thought Shi-Hyeok’s behavior was unusual, and Lee Tae-Joon called out to Shi-Hyeok again.
Hearing that call, suddenly he came to his senses.
“Huh? Ah, yes. Did you call me?”
“Because I thought you had a nightmare. Are you okay?”
“Ah, yeah. I’m fine. I think I’m okay.”
Not that it hadn’t happened, the panic of his death then was subsiding.
Like an invisible existence was erasing only that moment’s sensations completely with a rubber eraser.
It was an odd thing.
Even if the blood-red hound were to come across his mind and he recalled the blood-red hound’s enormous canine teeth, he wasn’t fearful. Even if he were to meet it once more, rather than be taken by the fear of that heinous appearance, he wouldn’t sink into recollections of death.
As Shi-Hyeok understood that truth, the light of his eyes changed.
‘What on earth is it…’
Even if he was clueless about everything else, he was aware of the fact that some supernatural energy had worked on him.
But about the fact that he wasn’t an ability user or a manifestation being?
There was not time to think about this for this long. He knew this because the smartphone he had put next to the head of his bed was beeping.
It was already 7:10 AM.
Today was February 21, 2016.
It was the day that Shi-Hyeok began his work as an intern of Changcheon University Gwangju Oriental Medicine Hospital.
His mind became busy.
‘I don’t even know.’
He should first focus on work.
It shouldn’t be much, was what he thought.
He put on his clothes and slipped the gown over them.
The gown he hadn’t worn since practical training as a fourth year.
While he realized he had become an oriental doctor, on one hand, he didn’t feel like that at all.
It seemed like if he closed his eyes and opened them again he would be at home.
Only once he washed his hair with cold water did he feel a strong sense of reality. He came out of the main office with the patient records and started doing rounds of the ward.
The nurses greeted Shi-Hyeok as they saw him.
“Are you the new intern?”
“Yes. I am Choi Shi-Hyeok. Please take care of me.”
“We ought to take good care of you. Did you hear the strange yell from the third floor? The patients were asking what was going on.”
Shi-Hyeok smiled awkwardly.
The reason was because he knew what the nurses were asking about.
“That was me. I had a nightmare.”
“Oh my, is that true?”
The nurses let out a laugh.
“It must have been a prank. There are sometimes some doctors who do that.”
After sharing a few more words, he passed by the nurses’ station.
There was a lot to do even starting in the morning.
The very first thing to do was to check in on the patients’ conditions at 8 o’clock in each department. It was fortunate that it was 8 o’clock, but it was only because it was Sunday; normally it was to be done at 7 o’clock.
He had to do this, but, truthfully, he didn’t know how he was to go about it.
Asking each patient their condition was too tiring.
It was a little past 7 o’clock. The elderly patients were generally awake, but the young and even the middle-age patients were fast asleep. They complained as he woke them up and asked them about their condition.
Even asking about their condition was awkward because there was an overwhelming amount of patients in pain as he took care of rehabilitation, gastrointestinal internal medicine (GI), and the department of neuropsychiatry at once. I think it has gotten better since you were first admitted. Your condition is improving. He could only make these types of answers.
Despite that, the patients in pain were getting better. In GI and neuropsychiatry, a couple of stroke patients had been admitted, but they had become like mutes. Ultimately, checking on them ended at noting their visible condition.
He came back down to the fifth floor after doing rounds on the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors.
First, he finished the report of the neuropsychiatry patients to Lee Mi-Sook. After that, he called Kang Moon-Ji of GI, but Kang Moon-Ji was furious, asking why he had called so late.
Looking at the clock, 8:10.
He said, the report should be done right on time, so why had he been 10 minutes late?
[I apologize. It was late because it is my first time, and I am not used to it. I will make sure nothing like this happens in the future.]
He felt like he was acting cheap over nothing, but he couldn’t do anything about it. He bowed his head in apology for now.
Kang Moon-Ji spoke in a cold voice.
[Please be more careful in the future.]
Shi-Hyeok thought as he looked at what he had written on the patient reports.
There wasn’t anything major.
From the start he wasn’t fully understanding the patients. No, it was impossible to fully understand the patients. He merely repeated what the patients had said on the report like a parrot.
[Do you not check the sleep time of the patients?] [What was the FBS (fasting blood sugar)? No, why didn’t you check the FBG (fasting blood glucose) of the diabetic patient?] [What about the blood pressure for that patient? Really! It’s a patient with low blood pressure! Of course you must check the blood pressure!]
The strength completely drained from him.
If there was something slightly inadequate, Kang Moon-Ji made him do them again on his own. After he quickly hung up, Shi-Hyeok had to go back and forth to the department ward’s nurses’ station several times.
This was because the nurses’ station was determined as the reporting site. The use of smartphones was prohibited except in cases of emergency, and it was tiring, as he could only use the ward phone.
After finishing the GI report, 8:30.
Song Dan-Bi in charge of the nephrology, metabolism and endocrinology internal medicine department (internal medicine 2) quickly took over the phone on the other end. He promptly began the report for internal medicine 2, and this time he was being scolded to the point of death for using semi-formal speech with his superior.
Shi-Hyeok went up to the sixth floor right away.
This time he mentally prepared himself to be scolded, but Bae Hye-Jeong in charge of the rehabilitation department patients was unreasonably kind.
[Had you been doing the GI notification (report) until now?] [Yes, ma’am. Because I missed many things, I went back to the wards, and it took a long time.] [Ah……I told you not to do those kinds of things. I understand. Please start.] [Yes. I will begin the report for the rehabilitation department.]
Thankfully, the report with rehabilitation ended quickly. The reason was since Bae Hye-Jeong, unlike Kang Moon-Ji, did not ask him to do each task again.
His first task ended like this, but from now the day began.
There was the acupuncturing of each department’s patients at 9 o’clock.
Without being able to eat breakfast he hung on. He put (acupuncture) needles and alcohol cottons in the emesis basin (a kidney-shaped, shallow basin to receive soiled dressings and medical waste), and he had to hook up electropuncture and infrared treatment lamps for each patient.(a kidney-shaped, shallow basin to receive soiled dressings and medical waste)
In some oriental medicine hospitals, each patient was hooked up to electropuncture and infrared lamps, but that amount of equipment was greatly lacking in the Changcheon University Hospital. Even the interns were hard-pressed.
At exactly 9 o’clock, Bae Hye-Jeong appeared in the ward.
Personally, Bae Hye-Jeong was a source of motivation for Shi-Hyeok. It was because they were actually the same year in school, but Shi-Hyeok repeated one year and became the junior.
However, all of that is ignored in a hospital. So cases where upperclassmen and underclassmen met in the hospital as subordinate and superior occasionally occurred.
Bae Hye-Jeong faced and greeted him. After glancing at her watch she walked toward number 610.
After verifying that, Shi-Hyeok came down to the fifth floor.
Just in time, Lee Mi-Sook opened the door of the fifth floor neuropsychiatry staff room and came out. As Shi-Hyeok quickly greeted her, she nodded her head lightly and took the emesis basin.
The other departments were also slowly beginning acupuncturing. The patients were inside the wards, and only the oriental doctors, wearing white gowns, were going here and there.
There were two doctors in charge of Shi-Hyeok.
At present, there was nothing to be done since there were four interns compared to there being seven doctors. Actually, five interns were chosen, but one was in the middle of working as a public health doctor, and it would only be at the end of April that they would be joining the others.
Because of this, it was almost chaotic.
While following behind Bae Hye-Jeong, he was busy enough acupuncturing.
But after a while, a call came from the fifth floor. Neuropsychiatry was asking why he was not removing the needles of their patients.
With the feeling of having messed up, he went to the fifth floor and removed the needles, but when he returned, Bae Hye-Jeong was going into the ward near the front. Moreover, because the rehabilitation department’s patients who had received acupuncture earlier had to have the needles removed, he ran busily from place to place.
It wasn’t only Shi-Hyeok; the other interns were also like this. It was fortunate that they were limited to one patient in their care, if they had to take care of the entire department, the gates of hell would have opened.
Like that, once the acupuncture for the patients was done, it was a little over 10:30.
Shi-Hyeok hid in the casualty ward behind the nurses’ station and caught his breath.
There was not even a place for interns to sit and rest. The bathrooms, the staircases on the east and west ends of the ward, and the casualty ward were the only places to rest, if there were any. Things would probably change after entrance, but this first period was like this.
The other interns wore tired faces and gathered in the casualty room.
“I’m already worn out.”
“I agree. I didn’t know it would be this tiring.”
“And I only got to sleep for two hours…”
But there was no chance to rest.
Bloodletting, cupping, moxibustion, there were over 20 patients they needed to perform these on. Even on the remaining patients, a brief bloodletting or moxibustion was needed to be performed. They had learned this all in school and had even practiced them, but it couldn’t be predicted how long it was going to take to do all twenty-some people.
And Shi-Hyeok was successful in performing cupping and moxibustion on merely four people before the afternoon.
He cleaned the areas where blood was to be let with alcohol, let the blood with bloodletting needles, placed single-use cups on those areas, performed general cupping, removed the single-use cups, wiped the blood, placed the moxa on those spots…
If one becomes familiar with it, it takes less than 10 minutes. Those who are like this can treat two patients on both sides of them or even finish an entire room at once.
But this was Shi-Hyeok’s first time doing this. Naturally, it took a long time since he was working on a single person for an entire 20 minutes.
Once he was done with cupping and moxibustion, the afternoon was gone, and it was already evening.
It was fortunate that it was sorted out before dinner. Kim Sang-Ah, who had the most patients, had to perform cupping even after eating.
After this, the evening report and night duty, daily log write up, etc. after finishing all the things on the schedule, the four interns gathered at the seminar room.
It was time for dismissal meeting.
Now that their work was done, it wasn’t that they could go into their quarters and sleep. They had to receive dismissal from duties from their doctor.
They were completely worn out.
From wearing dress-shoes he wasn’t used to, his feet hurt enough to fall off. He wanted to immediately go into his quarters and take them off.
“Good work today.”
Come down to do the dismissal meeting from ear, nose, and throat (ENT). Jo Hui-Yeong, who was in charge of the dermatology patients, spoke.
Shortened to “oph-ot-derm.” Sometimes it was called ophthalmology and otolaryngology (head and neck surgery), but oph-ot-derm was more commonly said.
The four interns all were all buried in fatigue. With tired eyes, they only listened to what Jo Hui-Yeong said.
“There were no in-patients there, right? There will be many in-patients tomorrow since it is Monday. Seeing from today, there were many people who were disoriented, so please get used to it soon. You will only have a harder time if you don’t. And please help each other a lot, also. Since four of you are doing the work of five people, it will be hard if you don’t help each other out.”
Jo Hui-Yeong talked about this and that.
They were words that, if one listened and digested them properly, would be of much help.
But the four interns were on the verge of crashing. No matter what Jo Hui-Yeong said, they waited for the meeting to end.
Seeing this, Jo Hui-Yeong smiled brightly.
“You are all tired, right? Then this will be all for today. You’ve gone through a lot. Ah, and starting tomorrow the department heads have their rounds, so don’t make mistakes. If that happens you will be killed, as well as us. Do you understand?”
“Yes, ma’am. We understand.”
Leaving them with those words, Jo Hui-Yeong exited the seminar room.
Staggering, Shi-Hyeok got to his feet. The others did the same.
“Good work today.”
“You’ve been through a lot.”
They exchanged greetings and quickly showered.
His feet were swollen. The soles of his feet stung as if blisters were forming.
As he went into his quarters and lied down, with his exhausted body only his eyes were alert.
Suddenly one thought came to his mind.
The situation he had met last night.
Maybe he would meet that same situation today.
‘I wouldn’t mind if it was like that.’
That time when, if he just reached out his hand and placed the needle, even a fatal wound would heal.
It was vastly different from now.
On the real Earth, Shi-Hyeok was an intern, nothing more than a rookie oriental doctor. But, there, he could perform miracles with a few movements of his hand. Somewhere where even the fear of death had been erased, the thought that he wanted to return to that place came to Shi-Hyeok’s mind.
He fell asleep holding a strand of hope, but these hopes were nowhere close to being fulfilled.
That night, the next night, and, again, the night after the next…
Eventually the strange situation faded into black in Shi-Hyeok’s memory.
Because he was too busy and tired.
Running around once he opened his eyes, blacking out once he closed his eyes, this life repeated itself. It was more strange that he didn’t forget that strange situation with this kind of life.
It was one month after Shi-Hyeok had recalled the memories of that time, once more he was summoned to that world.
<Oriental Medicine Hospital Intern> End
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