Emergency room bustle and an American and everyone is tense! The nurse approaches and she is drop dead gorgeous Korean style! She speaks Konglish (Korean bastardized English or vice-versa) which is a plus. I am holding my smashed left arm and hand up on my chest with my right hand tenderly. She approaches with a nice big syringe and I am thinking wow…drift away to lala land with morphine! She indicates that I must drop my pants and turn around. I can not drop my pants and hold my broken arm and hand. She drops to her knees and fumbles with my jeans realizing they are 501 Button Fly Levi’s, she looks up distressed!
I lean way back placing the weight of my broken hand/arm on my chest and reach down to rip open my jeans. That is when I remember my underwear! Mom sent me a “cool” pair of boxers for X-mas with little Ralph Lauren Polo bears waving American flags and marching! Yep, she pulls the Levi’s off and bursts out laughing!
She runs into the hallway and gets the other nurses to come look at the American’s funny boxers! They laugh and laugh and finally she bends me over and administers the shot! I feel nothing – nothing as in no numbing bliss! I look at the nurse and ask ? She smiles and tells me “Bitamin B berry berry good for heeealing” ( Vitamin B very very good for healing). They do not give pain meds until after all bones are set in Korea. YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!
The nurse inspects my torn groin (without the help of the other nurses thankfully). She proceeds to take me to the doctor’s office where he will set my bones. Snap snap snap – push snap – ” oh you berry berry strong American man, you no cry!” No, I did not cry. I was in a place far far away called give me morphine now land! He finally gave me a shot of “painkiller” and I started tripping! I have no idea what “korean medicine” he gave me but instead of “no pain” it gave me Bob Marley singing “No Woman No Cry”. Pain meds in Korea do not work on me they just gave me psychedelic dreams! Within a week, I was back teaching. I could not teach through the pain but my best buddy Petey brought me Stoli Vodka and I taught drunk for the next ten weeks! I have never been more fun or popular! No one missed my class and everyone got an “A+” !
Interestingly enough, I went back to the doctor for x-rays the following week and he took my cast off smiling and smiling. He had the same hot nurse come into the room and talk (distract) me. She smiled and told me how handsome and strong I was! The doctor kneaded my arm near the wrist and I was pretty drunk and happy! SNAP – he re-broke the wrist where it did not set right and re-set it! The nurse smiled and said “see, you berry strong – me like American man – do you need to throw-up?” Yep, all in one sentence!
When the cast came off 10 drunken happy weeks later, I could no longer use my left arm and hand. The doctor smiled and said “no problem, now go Chinese”. Acupuncture, massage, and physical therapy combined with “oh God, I don’t want to be a gimp with a limp arm” ie prayer…brought my arm back to 100%. Well, until I was rappelling down at Glen Canyon Dam but that is another story.