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Doctor Goes Back To Joseon Chapter 29: Fever [3]

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'What should I do?' Ganghyuk looked at the bag with regrets. It had plates, but did not have any antimalarial drug; it even had a hammer and chisel.

It was full of operational tools, but nothing that could be used in the current scenario. There was just no consistency in the kind of items that were packed in the bag.

'I could not find any antimalarial anyway…It is really problematic with things like this. What should I do?'

On the futon, Seungmun was clearly trembling badly. "Ganghyuk, I need the medicine that you gave me the last time."

He thought that the medicine had cured him, but it was actually a characteristic of malaria. Anyway, he could not leave him like that.

"Take these ones today." Ganghyuk gave him some anti-inflammatory medications and antacids. Seungmun trusted the former in terms of medical skills, so he had no reason to object.

"Father, it is not enough. I need to get some more medicines. Can I leave you alone for a while to get the right herb for your disease?"

"Yes… If it is not cold, I can endure."

"Oksoek… heat the room. Dolseok, prepare for going out."

"Yes, sir."

Ganghyuk was a man who did not normally shout, and now that he did, all the slaves moved in a perfect order immediately. Dolseok readied a horse promptly as well, his face full of anxiety.

"Sir, is he not well?"

"No, but I do not have a medicine for his disease."

"Oh my goodness!"

It was Ganghyuk's remark, so it must be true. Hearing this, Dolseok's face became darker.

"I think you must go to the government office and get some herb."

"En…"

Ganghyuk groaned; going to the government office was no issue. He had a connection with the governor, and the latter would definitely not refuse to give any herb as it would be used for Seungmun.

'But, what kind of herb should I use?'

His antibiotics were good medicines, so much so that there could not be any compet.i.tors among oral medicines.

But, they were only effective on bacteria.

'Malaria… Why is malaria here in Joseon?' Ganghyuk tried to remember what he had studied back when he was a student.

'It is a disease that we see in Ganghwdo and the northern area.'

He usually did not forget anything once he learned and memorized it. As far as he remembered, malaria was not a usual disease in Korea.

'But, what is the use of that?'

What could he do? It was certain that Seungmun had caught the disease. He could only shake his head in frustration.

Dolseok asked him with a wet voice(1), "Sir, are you going?"

Ganghyuk could not understand it at all. If there had been malaria in Joseon, there should have been medicine for it.

"Ok, let's go."

"Yes, sir."

If he made himself more alert, he might be able to remember something. So, Ganghyuk tried to remember what he had learned on the horse.

If he stacked his textbooks and materials that he had learned, it might be twice as high as Ganghyuk himself.

'I must have learned it, maybe pa.s.sed it off as not something serious…I may have learned it in Medical History.'

But, that subject was not an important one. If it were another subject, he would have remembered some frequently asked questions for sure.

Hence, he tried to remember everything that he had learned. As he had learned a lot and had a very smart brain, he soon thought of something.

"Ah!"

"Sir, what is it?"

"Quinine."

"What-nin?" Dolseok looked at Ganghyuk with worrying eyes. The latter often mentioned strange things, which made him feel like something was wrong with his head.

Ganghyuk continued his monologue. "No, quinine is not from here…It is from South America. There should be something else."

There was something that he had read more recently; it was neither in the textbook nor the papers.

"Ah, yes! n.o.bel Prize in Physiology or Medicine!'

It was a Eureka moment indeed. Ganghyuk couldn't help but have his body shake with joy. It was so startling that Dolseok had to stop the horse because of his sudden movement.

"Sir, are you alright?"

"Yes. I remember. I have got an answer."

"You look insane." Dolseok immediately covered his mouth with his hands. But, Ganghyuk didn't mind what he had said.

'In 2015, Professor Youyou Tu developed artemisinin and received a n.o.bel Prize. The ingredient was…'

It was a common gra.s.s that could be seen anywhere in East Asia. He might even be able to find it on the street which he had just pa.s.sed.

"Sweet Wormwood... We need to find sweet wormwood."

"Eh?"

"Come on! We need sweet wormwood to make the medicine for my father. That is what we should do look for

"Ah! Yes, sir."

Dolseok cut the gra.s.s which had grown to the height of his waist. Ganghyuk did not know what it looked like; what he knew was only the name. Therefore, he had to ask Dolseok what sweet wormwood looked like.

"Is it the one?"

"Yes. We have a lot here."

"Ok! Then, get only the new leaves."

Ganghyuk took off from the horse and joined collection. He remembered that the effective ingredient was abundant in the leaves.

'It mainly grows a stem.'

It was not easy to get lots of leaves alone. He tried to gather for a while, but the collected leaves could fill only a single basket.

"Let's go now."

"Yes, sir."

When they finally reached home, Okseok hurriedly ran to meet them.

"How is he?"

"He is better after taking the medicine that you gave, sir. He is now lying on the futon.' The temperature was controlled thanks to the anti-inflammatory medication.

'But, that cannot cure him. If it stays like that…'

Anti-inflammatory medication was a temporary expedient. If he stayed sick for more days, he might end up with some serious problem.

Although it was rare for the three-day-fever malaria that Seungmun had caught to develop into severe symptoms, it was only probability, and n.o.body knew of the actual development.

"Here… This is the gra.s.s with which I will make medicine for him."

"How much and how long should he take it for, sir?"

"That is a good question."

Dolseok was smart enough to ask the right questions, unlike what his looks would convey. He was rather hateful, though.

'Oh my goodness! I don't know the dose." He did not know how much artemisinin he could abstract from sweet wormwood.

'It would not be good to have too much. I will increase the dose starting from the minimum.'

It seemed that he had to perform a clinical experiment on his father. It was immoral, but he could not help it.

The problem was not only the dose, but also the method of extraction.

'I need to first extract artemisinin.'

As far as Ganghyuk knew, artemisinin was not water soluble. He had heard something from a patient in the hemato-oncology department and tried to verify it. During the process, he discovered that it was not water soluble.

'He told me that it would be good to have wormwood boiled to fight against his cancer. But, it was unfortunately incorrect.'

If he wanted to drink that instead of water, it might be a good choice. But, if he wanted it as a medicine, that was not going to be right.

Thus, he went way back in his memories of the past. He remembered the experiments he had to do continuously when he was freshman at the medical college. He used to complain why he had to do those experiments at that time. But now, he was regretful about not paying full attention to them.

'I think ether would be the best solvent. '

But, the problem with ether was, where could he find ether?

'Then, I have to use alcohol instead.' There must be some alcohol that the governor had sent.

"Dolseok, go get some alcohol."

"What? Drink? The great master is sick, sir." Dolseok looked at Ganghyuk with impolite eyes. Ganghyuk couldn't help but get angry on seeing his small, ugly eyes.

"Do you think I will drink? I will make a medicine with it."

"Ah! Yes, I will get it immediately."

"Ah, the fellow!"

He decided to pretend to roll him in the straw mat someday.

"Here it is, sir."

"Yes... Good. How strong can it be?" Ganghyuk tried it with a spoon. It was probably 40 degrees at most.

"You told me you wanted it to make a medicine, and now you are 'tasting' it?"

"Be quiet!"

Dolseok shut his mouth after being hit. As his surroundings became quiet, Ganghyuk could finally think better.

'It is fortunate that this drink is Soju [clear alcohol]. If I put the sweet wormwood in Soju and boil, I can get some sort of an extract."

He had to do something in the given circ.u.mstances.

"Pour the alcohol in the pot. Add a few handfuls of sweet wormwood, and then bring to boil."

"A few?"

"Yes"

"One or two? Please tell me precisely." Dolseok asked again. It was not an incorrect question, but it was quite annoying. People would get angry more easily when they were asked to answer the questions that they did not know of.

Hence, Ganghyuk hit his head once again.

"Two, fellow."

"You could have just told me. Why are you hitting me?"

"You deserve it. Boil it first."

"Okay."

Dolseok boiled the sweet wormwood while ma.s.saging his head. Soon, the aroma filled up the room once it began boil, and the color became dark yellow.

"Good, it is boiling. Dolseok, you did a good job."

Dolseok was watching the pot, expecting a positive outcome, given his bright eyes. He had faith in his little master, because the latter hadn't been wrong up till this point.

'I must taste it.'

Ganghyuk had to do it as he did not know how it tasted, and it was highly possible that it might be so bad that no human being could bear to consume it.

"Get a spoon."

"Here it is." Dolseok promptly gave the spoon he usually used for tasting, thinking that it would be sufficient.

"Not this."

"Then?"

"Silver"

"Silver? Ok, I see."

He did not know why Ganghyuk was asking for a silver spoon, but he followed the latter's order nevertheless.

"Here it is."

"Ok." Ganghyuk then stirred the extract with the silver spoon.

'No color change.'

He had already known that it was meaningless. Silver could detect a.r.s.enic, but it could not detect the other potential toxins.

"Let's see then…" Ganghyuk murmured and then tried the extract, before retching out.

"Weck"

He felt an abominably bitter taste. The aroma from the sweet wormwood was gone already. He did not know much about herbs, but there was one thing that he was sure of.

'It is not for people.'

There was the saying, "Bitter pills may have blessed effects." But that was not true for every case. As a matter of fact, even poison was extremely bitter.

Seungmun was already sick, and he could not give such a bitter thing to him.

'Ach'

To add salt to the injury, the bitter taste was just not going away. It seems that they had boiled for too long and at too high a temperature. It was not like this at first after all.

Dolseok came to him while frowning. "Sir, your face is…"

"Fellow, you boiled it too much."

"Eh?"

"Try to heat it to warm temperature. Don't boil."

"You had liked the boiling just now."

"When did I like it? I just told you that it had boiled well."

"Wow! You will be punished by the heaven if you change your words like that."

Dolseok followed the new order while complaining.

"Oh my goodness!" He removed the old pot and then put a new one while groaning. Then, he adjusted the flame and took the alcohol to boil slowly.

"Ok, let's put it again."

"Yes"

With that, Dolseok added the sweet wormwood in the liquid, and soon, there was the aroma and color change again.

Ganghyuk felt that this was the right time.

"Hmmm… Let's take it off."

Dolseok was doubting at this point that he truly did not know the process very well, and couldn't help but look at him with suspicion.

"It is your first time, right?"

When somebody hit the mark with such a conjecture, the person hit by him would undoubtedly get angry.

"I have not done it in a long time. That is why!"

"Ok, ok… You are getting angry very easily today." Dolseok complained as he scooped the medicine with a ceramic bowl.

Clearly, it looked better and had some aroma.

"Hmm" Gagnhyuk steeled his nerves and tasted it again.

'It is good. It is no longer that bitter, and has good aroma.' It was then that he remembered that artemisinin could be extracted the best at sixty degrees.

"Good! It is what I wanted. Let's go to my father."

"What should I do with this?" The leftover in the pot had become dark brown as it was on the fire for some more time.

"Throw it away."

"I have back pain, sir."

"I will give you medicine. You have a stout body and…"

"But, you have a better body, sir. No, no."

Ganghyuk went to Seungmun's room while Dolseok had a hard time with the pot. Although the fever was gone because of the anti-inflammatory medication, his face did not look good.

"Father, please drink it."

"Eh? The aroma is good."

"Yes, the taste is not bad."

"Okay, give it to me."

Seungmun drank the artemisinin extract without hesitation. He seemed to feel good having consumed the warm medicine.

"It is good. As a matter of fact, with the tablets that you gave me, I did not feel like needing any more medicine."

"It is very important medicine for your disease, so I will make it every day."

"Thank you."

"Could you lie down? I will examine your abdomen."

"Okay."

Actually, Seungmu was feeling very tired, so he lied back straight on the futon. Then, Ganghyuk examined his abdomen carefully.

'His liver is swollen. The disease is progressing." After all, anti-inflammatory medicines had their limit.

A young man could cure himself, but an old man like Seungmun might not be able to defeat the disease for himself. He needed help from medicine.

"Please take a rest. Only then your malaria will go."

"Okay. I will follow your order. Since you are an excellent doctor, I have come to have some different views…"

1) Wet voice - Korean figure of speech to refer to a sorrowful voice.

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Doctor Goes Back To Joseon Chapter 29: Fever [3] summary

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