Still broken

I made coffee for myself in an irregular cup. Somewhat uncomfortably large and covered with white and silver patterns. I actually dislike the cup, but the large size allows me to make a larger cup of coffee. As I was brewing it, I realized I wanted to put my thoughts back into this blog. I haven’t posted in so long, but that is understandable. As a journalism major, I was encouraged to write a blog or write personal stories to “keep me in the habit of writing”. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that writing isn’t a habit, but rather a skill, which they wanted me to practice. I’ve found it is fruitless to have a habit of writing because the words come out dead and lifeless. This writing is a feeling. And at this time, my thoughts are fluid and I can share them with you. I can’t promise that I will keep updating, but I will share my feelings here as often as it feels like something I can do.

For those who are not that close to me, I broke my leg in the winter while I have been living in Korea. It has been touched up and I intended on telling the entire story. At this time, I won’t be finishing that story. Instead, I will quickly catch you up to my current state. 

That break in my bone cracked my entire state of living. Following the break, I have been diagnosed with Osteomyelitis – a bone infection – and because my initial doctor failed to catch the infection quickly, my new doctor was at one point talking about amputating the leg. I had an operation that resulted in infected tissue being cut from my leg and external fixation has been applied to my leg. To be more direct, there are a half dozen nails driven into my bones and a few wires that pass through one side of my heel and out the other. This is what hold me together while I deal with antibiotic therapy. For a period of six weeks, I had two injections of antibiotics per day. Eventually, the antibiotics took too much of a toll on my body, resulting in a harsh allergic reaction that tore up my skin, gave me a fever and made me feel like death. For two weeks afterward, I switched to an IV drip anti-biotic. It eventually triggered severe dehydration because drugs are not without side-effects. For an additional six weeks I took pill antibiotics, which eventually caused extreme nausea and an additional skin problem. Part of the nausea may be psychosomatic, although this is my personal theory. I become violently nauseous exactly at the hospital meal times and eating the hospital food at night causes me to gag and heave. If I leave the hospital to get food I don’t feel excited to eat it, but the reaction isn’t as strong. I think I’ve just reached my limit for eating the hospital food on a daily basis. 

At this time, I’m sitting and waiting for my final operation to be scheduled. When it is performed, the metal will be pulled from my bones and I will get an incision at my knee. And IM nail, which is more like a metal post than a nail, will be driven through the top of my bone. My doctor told me about the procedure hesitantly. He expected a negative reaction since I have been through such a procedure before. It is quite similar to my first operation that was performed by a different surgeon and became infected. I understand why he thought I might become uncomfortable, but the most efficient surgery with the lowest complications is the best surgery. Just because I suffered through the complications doesn’t suddenly made the other surgeries less likely to have complications. It doesn’t make their success rates higher. 

Perhaps my outlook is warped. That is one thing I have thought as I have spent these last four months in this hospital in Korea. When I found out I could lose my leg, I felt drained for a day or two. I think I cried a little. But when it comes down to it, what are our alternatives? Raging against fate? Cursing God? By the third day I was smiling and joking again. Sure, I was afraid, but if they cut my leg off, I just have to live with that. I’d give a prosthetic and I would live my life the best I can. If my surgery is a success, I’ll go through rehabilitation and live my life the best I can. The outcome from the perspective is actually very similar. 

In the process of being in the hospital, I lost my job. How couldn’t I? A small school can’t survive with one-sixth of the staff missing. I felt a twisted pride that I was very difficult to replace. At one point when my boss and I had a fight, she claimed I’d have trouble getting a job at another school and that I could be replaced easily. I smiled to myself when my friends offered me jobs and she couldn’t find anyone to take my place for a couple months. I knew it was hard on my poor co-workers, but nothing feels better than having your value confirmed. Although, losing the job meant I lost my home, which was paid for by my school. 

After I had broken my leg, but before I was re-admitted to the hospital, I began dating a girl as well. She was very tall and attractive, although in a slightly uncommon way. She was a guitar teacher and she was in an indie band. In many ways, she was more or less my ideal type. But after I was re-admitted to the hospital, I have never seen her again. I got one message that she was simply too busy and then that was it. She’s been gone ever since. Perhaps this would have happened even if I didn’t end up in the hospital. However I can’t help but feel like things could have been different.

While I don’t entirely live in the most frugal manner, I am quite good at saving money. I had no debt when I came to Korea, and I had saved a decent amount of money while still purchasing myself the style of clothes I like, doing what I wanted with my friends and purchasing a new laptop. But at this time, those savings had to be used for my hospital bills. Being sick here in Korea is much more affordable than being sick in the United States, but four surgeries and six months of hospitalization isn’t cheap anywhere. 

So here I am. No girlfriend, No job, No home, No money. And I’m in a wheelchair. 6000 miles away from the United States. And yet, this is alright. I’ve experienced so much pain, yet it fades away. I’ve lost so much, but I can always rebuilt. My grandfather says that we shouldn’t worry about things we couldn’t change. When I was working for newspapers and documentaries, I couldn’t understand. How could you not be worried about politics? About human cruelty? How could you blame me for growing cynical and jaded? So disillusioned and frustrated with the job market and the situation in the United States that I ended up become a teacher on the other side of the Earth?

Now, I can see that it isn’t so hard. There are things in life that cannot be changed. If, back on that snowy day on December, I had waited in the cold and took the bus, I wouldn’t have broken my leg. But I can’t regret that decision. How could I have known? It isn’t like I can change what happened. All I can do is look forward. I’ve made plans to remain in Korea and I will be replacing my job to the best of my ability. I’ll meet a girl who hopefully will stick around if I’m unlucky enough to be injured again. I was able to learn a lot of Korean in the hospital. It’s so easy to be weighed down by petty little things and to grow frustrated with things. But you’re doing it to yourself. 

Presently, I’m reading Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood and I find myself identifying with the protagonist, who says

 “I guess it’s all a matter of attitude. You could let a lot of things bother you if you wanted to – the rules, the jerks who think they’re hot shit, the roommates doing Radio Calisthenics at six-thirty in the morning. But if you figure it’s pretty much the same anywhere you go, you can manage”

This holds true in everything. If you figure this is just how things are, you can manage through anything. 


Until next time.



~ by James on June 16, 2013.

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