You never know what a day will bring and how the simple choices you make will affect the future. What started out as any (normal?) day in Korea would end up much differently than I expected. Like most mornings, my friends, Amanda and Amy, and I ran to the park to use the hilarious public exercise machines that can only be compared to variations of the Tony Gazelle TV infomercial exercise equipment. For example, there is a machine we have dubbed the “waist whittler” –I assure you, it is a hysterical sight to behold.
Attempts to describe the type of people who use these machines will sound fantastical and exaggerated- I am not kidding and am not embellishing here so take reality as it is. In general, the only other people we have witnessed utilizing these machines are seemingly homeless, old Korean men. On this particular day, we were accompanied by a man clearly misusing a bicep machine—in a fashion I can’t really describe—and a man with Elvis-type swooshy hair, dressed in a denim vest just swinging his arms free form— whose B.O. was offensive on a level that would overthrow dynasties. Off to the side, there are also always random elderly spectators that just sit on the benches and look as though they have never moved from those spots in their lives and never plan to. Another passerby was a middle aged woman who had trekked from an apartment building to the park with a long knife for the purpose of washing it in the water fountain??? There are some questions obviously still unanswered when it comes to the park exercisers…and this was a “normal” start to a day so far.
However unbelievable it may be, the real drama started on the return run. We were clipping along at a pretty good pace, I was feeling strong when one unfortunate misstep splayed my ankle outwards and sent my elbows into the pavement. Another rolled ankle to add to my life list of maladies but this time, I’m in a foreign country and I don’t yet have health insurance or even my ID card that proves I’m legally working in the country. Great! While my ankle was ballooning out of the bounds of my tennis shoe, my amazing friends sprang into action and hailed a cab to take us back to the apartment building. Hobble- hop style I made it into the elevator and up to my room so we can get ice, ibuprofen and try and formulate our next steps. A mere hour and a half before we were supposed to be at school to teach, we were (and are still) without cell-phones and internet and have no method of contacting the school. While it was evident that medical attention was necessary, we also speak ZERO Korean and while our apartment building is next door to a hospital, the language barrier and lack of health insurance were reason enough to make the trek to school first for assistance.
Another cab ride later, I was seated on a bench in school, surrounded by all of my superiors discussing what to do with me (in Korean obviously). At this point I was admittedly near tears- out of emotional exhaustion more than physical pain- and was absolutely bewildered. Never do you miss your mother more than when you are sick or hurt in a foreign country. There is no one on the planet that can make me feel more secure or comforted like she can.
Finally, the school’s monolingual (guess which one!) driver, Mr. Kim, is assigned the task of taking me to an orthopedic clinic. Still without crutches, I awkwardly leaned on him and hop-hobbled my way to his car and then into the clinic. I have to ask, why doesn’t an orthopedic clinic have wheelchairs?! Anyhow, once inside, the receptionist took one look at my Caucasian-ness and then glanced at my elephantized ankle and instead of softening her face to include such qualities as are typical of good bedside manner, she gave me the more typical judgmental stare that speaks, “what a stupid foreigner to hurt her ankle like that”.
Several x-Rays, crutches, and a temporary cast later, a doctor finally told me these (and only these) exact words in English, “maybe…maybe…maybe…linear fracture!” I later gleaned (from pointing at a calendar and me filling in the gaps with his English) that he wants me to come back for more x-rays in a week once the swelling has gone down to tell for sure whether or not it’s broken. So now, since I have been internet-less and busy, this post is already outdated as it is now Tuesday night and I get to go back to the doctor Thursday! I hope and pray it’s not broken….
All I can say is, what a day. I guess it will be a while before I can join my friends back at the park.
Always an adventure, Korea, always.