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.
I don’t know if you ever had a thought that later comes true? Like you are seeing something happen before it happens! I was the second person through a GREEN light on my motorcycle on my way up to teach ESL class at Woo Song University in Daejeon South Korea. I stress second person and green light because a week before at this same intersection I had a “look into the future moment” – a prescient warning if you will – of a motorcycle being hit! I was being careful!
The screech of brakes as I look to my right only to see a flat front Mac Semi bearing down on my tiny motorcycle and me! I had about two seconds to realize that I needed to grab the grill or go under with my motorcycle. I looked up and saw two people looking in horror at this “Mee-Gook-Saram” as he goes under their semi! MeeGookSaram – loosely translated “Stupid American”! They thought they could run the red light because the cars were far apart.
I grab with my right hand as my motorcycle goes under and my left hand and arm are sucked under the front passengers side tire – crunch! My bike spits out the back of the semi – mangled. My hand comes out at a right angle to my arm as I drag myself out from under the semi. My ability to speak Korean is knocked out of me and yet a small old Korean lady hobbles out of her home to hand me 2 aspirin and says in broken English ” Bayer Aspirin, berry good” I smile and thank her. I still can not speak Korean! The shock of the accident has left me Korean speechless . The internet shop owner I know grabs me and says in Korean ” 119 (911 Korean style) too slow – I drive. Thankfully, I still understand Korean. We rush off in his van to where the real pain begins!
Nine broken bones, one torn groin, multiple lacerations (yes, I was wearing a helmet) and I seriously want some morphine! I still can not speak Korean but get the most beautiful Korean nurse with a huge syringe! Humor and pain combine because remember your mom always told you to wear clean underwear!
The sledges are packed; their loads ratcheted into place. Sleeping bags, tents, thermoses, packs filled with minimal amounts of dry cloths and necessary gear, boxes of canned meat, dry soup, noodles, rice, sweet biscuits, cookies, and tea make up the balance of each burden. Our expedition is at hand. Into each set of traces slips a man, and one after another, the sledges began sliding toward the ice-bound shore of Lake Baikal. We wave to well wishing friends collected along the start of our route. Just off shore, we gather arm in arm to place our lives in the hands of our Maker. Now into the teeth of Baikal!
An Oriental maiden is winsome Baikal. Lake Baikal is Medusa. A glimpse of her concealed shores will leave a man gasping at her exquisite expanse. Her enchanting allure has led many to perish in her frigid storm frenzied waters, or on…
I was four years old when I got my first bow and arrow. My best friend Eric Judy and I got bows and arrows and the complementary Indian feather headdress Back in the day, a bow and arrow and cap gun were standard operating procedure in a boy’s trip to manhood. Of course, I was a “bad boy” (nothing has changed) and I took the suction cups off my arrows and sharpened the tip! My dad was a hunter and we ate venison, rabbit, and even gator! We lived on a big old farm that was owned by the neighbor Harold Davis ( Dave Davis lives there now I believe) . Eric and I had the run of the farm growing up. We crawled into the granary only to see huge rats and were not able to hit one with an arrow. We circled the big red barn and knew better than to shoot the horses or dozen milk cows. We then came around to the chicken coop where Harold the Farmer kept his prize winning fair chickens. Rhode Island Red’s – every year Harold would enter his chickens in the county fair and win first prize!
I fit an arrow to the bow and pulled all the way back! Yes, that arrow hit dead center on Harold the Farmers best chicken! We ran like hell! Looking back I remember seeing the chicken fall over. Later that day, Harold came over to the house smoking one of his ever present filter-less Camels (see, no one was politically correct on the farm!). He spoke with my mom and I was summoned to the kitchen. Did I know who shot this arrow? Yes, and did I know that I hit a chicken? Yes, and was I prepared for my whipping? Yes…I remember paying my allowance for a month to Harold because his chicken would not lay. I remember buying a porcelain chicken for Harold’s wife Martha. I remember her laughing and tousling my hair when I apologized and then seeing her years later and having her remind me of the porcelain chicken she still had 35 years later on her hutch.
Funny – my mom and dad did not take away my bow and arrow or headdress and I still remember that whipping! (and many many more)
Dedicated to “Grit Magazine” editor Hank Will for all the encouragement and positive feedback – you are a good friend!