Tuesday, October 14, 2008

...I broke my face.

I fell on my head-- on the sidewalk, after the hike!-- and got taken to the hospital for x-rays and stitches.

Upon demountaining, I walked a quarter-mile to the first pick-up point for the bus; the second stop is right where you come off the mountain, but I wanted to make sure to get a seat. I stopped at the men's room and resumed walking to the bus stop, carrying my daypack and my walking stick in front of me. Why? I don't know.

Then the bus turned out of the parking lot (not visible from where I was) where the drivers take their breaks, and I started to sprint for the bus. I got within thirty feet...

I've been meaning to post about how if Korea were America, there would be lawsuits flying around faster than character assassinations at a McCain rally. There are loose paving stones, little stumps of what once were signposts, concrete pillars below knee level... I always thought somebody was going to get hurt.

Somebody did. The sidewalk in the little town by Palgongsan is made of square bricks, maybe a foot across. A couple of them were sticking up an inch or two. Running as fast as I could, I caught my toe on one and pitched forward at an impressive velocity. I remember a split-second thought: this is going to be embarrassing, almost falling in front of the people waiting for the bus. My next thought was: look at all the blood.

I fell on the left side of my face, broke my glasses, cut my lip a little, scraped my hands, ripped and bled all over my t-shirt (I guess I'll have to go back to Jax and run ANOTHER Gate River Run), broke my watch strap, and laid open my face next to my left eye pretty good.

Luckily, I had an angel. A Korean man about to get on the bus came over to see if I was okay, wiped off as much blood as possible, using paper towels and his drinking water, stayed with me, tried to tell me where I was bleeding from (though as he had no English...), let me call Heeduk on his cell phone, and called an ambulance. I was getting so frustrated that I couldn't tell him how wonderful he was to me. I just kept saying "kamsamida" a lot, and shook his hand and bowed from the waist when the ambulance came. He must have taken 45 minutes to help me.

Hey, at least I didn't have to pay for the bus fare home. It's a long ride back to town, even in an ambulance, and I was embarrassed that I wasn't really hurt badly enough to have one come all the way out for me. George from school met me at the hospital and helped walk me through everything. At least I got a doctor with fair English.

The doctor determined I had only contused my shoulder (yeah, that's a word. It is now, anyway.) He either didn't consider that I might have, or determined somehow that I didn't have, a concussion, and sent me for x-rays in case I broke my crown.

As Yogi Berra said, they x-rayed my head and found nothing.

Then they stitched my up. I must say it's disconcerting to be lying there with a mask over your face while people work with a needle an inch from your eye and say what I'm pretty sure was "oops" in Korean. The doctor said the laceration was narrow but deep, and that he would do his best but couldn't promise it wouldn't leave a scar.

You know, it doesn't sound so bad having a pretty Korean woman telling you to take down your pants, but it turned out to be a pain in the butt.

I'm supposed to take three pills three times a day, use an icepack 15 minutes on and 15 off, and go back to the hospital every day so they can check the stitches, and for the next few days, get antibiotic shots. Meanwhile, now it's time to go to work and for some reason I have a headache.

...if I hadn't decided to go to the farther bus stop, if I hadn't stopped to use the bathroom, if I hadn't been wearing my brand-new hiking boots instead of my running shoes, if this country bothered to fix the sidewalks, if I hadn't been carrying my gear in front of me so I couldn't see the pavement... ah, well, why dwell? I fell. What the heck.

Kind of ironic, negotiating a rock-strewn, root-laced mountain only to split my face on a sidewalk. That was my day, from 1 to 3 a.m. US Eastern time. Was that two hours as interesting for you?


Dharma said...

Poor Baby,
You never do anything half-way, do you? At least now you'll have a scar with a story from your adventures in Korea. I'm so glad they x-rayed your head and found nothing there. I do feel extreme empathy for you, but you shouldn't make the story so damn funny. I couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry for you. Watch the cut closely, no telling what was on the bricks you hit, and I hope they gave you some triple antibiotic or bacitracin to put on it. If not, go get some somewhere.
Love to you,
Flower Child

Stephen J said...

Thanks, Flower. It's the next morning and I was just astonished when I got up and looked in the mirror: under my eye looked like a purple change purse with too many pennies in it. I'm icing it, 15 minutes on and 15 off; right now, I'm holding ice to my face with my left hand and typing with my right. It's looking not quite as hideous and has faded in shade from eggplant to raspberry.

I will never run for a bus in Korea again.