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Thursday, July 26, 2001

Peter's Broken Leg

[Another archived mass email, this one originally entitled "Full Circle." Though it was sent around July 26, 2001, the events covered take place in the fall of 2000, and center around Peter Hart's close encounter with a cinderblock wall and the Korean health care system.]

Dear Friends, Family and Loved Ones:

Well, I really dropped the ball on getting back to you.  Rest assured that I did not move to a cave and go primitive.  It has felt like that from time to time, but I'm pretty sure that I didn't.  I just got married, that's all.  And at times it feels like moving to a cave would be a smaller change, in part because a cave would not come with in-laws.

Also rest assured that the broken leg in question was not my own.  Though the story of the broken leg, and the man attached to it, is intertwined with my own story, and brings me about full circle in part of my own life story.

Flashback, anyone?

In September 1998 I came to work at ELS in Somyon, Pusan.  On September 17th I broke my leg.  I stayed in a Korean hospital, had a miserable time, and got over it.  End of flashback.  If you want the detailed version, ask me and I'll email it to you.

By September 2000, Peter Hart, originally from London, England, had been in Korea for eight months, and was enjoying himself, even when the wind was blowing.  Until September 16th, when the wind blew just a bit too hard and blew over a cinder block wall, part of which landed on Peter's right leg, not just breaking it, but breaking his shin bone into three distinct pieces.

I was in the middle of class when an ELS staff person came in looking very confused and asked me to take the phone.  It was Peter, in an ambulance, sounding absolutely terrified and tortured.  Some of my high-level students, one of whom was a doctor, gave me a ride to the hospital.  It was a terrible, gut-wrenching experience.  Once we got there, it was like reliving the whole thing, the pain, the humiliation, the anger.  Seeing it happen to someone else did not make it easier.

The students who came along told me later that they were surprised at my behavior.  Specifically, I think, when I asked a gentleman in the elevator if it was so *%&!!#ing hard to hold the *%&!!#ing elevator door open for a guy with a broken leg?  Oh yes, I was definitely not at my best.  And in the X-ray room, when the technician casually picked up Petey's broken leg by the heel, I felt it in my gut and damn near fainted myself.

I remembered my time in the hospital, surrounded by people I didn't know, comforted rarely by people I barely knew, and under the complete control of people I couldn't understand.  I refused to leave Pete's side until he went into surgery about four hours later.  While he was in surgery, my manager and I went back to ELS and made a quick game plan to cover Peter's classes for the rest of the month.  We also arranged for his roommate, Dave, to bring some of Pete's stuff to the hospital.  And I made it back to the hospital before he came to.  I stayed with him until his girlfriend, Juyoung, arrived.  I spent the next night in the hospital with him, though.

The next month was somewhat like reliving my own life.  Well, actually, it was more like watching someone else relive my life!  I quickly became one of Peter's best friends, because I was one of the few people who completely understood what he was going through.  (To be fair, though, Petey and I were on pretty good footing before.  At one point he said to me that I was the most non-typical-American American he had ever met, and I told him that he was the least British Brit I had ever met.  (Go back and double-check the hyphens on that.  Go on, I dare ya!)

And so once again I have gotten caught up in details that you are not particularly interested in.  So allow me to conclude the Peter Portion of the Story by adding that for a while Petey had the coolest contraption on his leg.  No cast.  Instead it was this collection of aluminum rods, arcs, and weird stuff.  Some of the rods went *through* his leg, looking like something out of one of those Hellraiser movies.  Disgusting, but fascinating at the same time.  He had continuing problems with infection, probably related to staying on his feet too much and drinking beverages that people in his condition shouldn't drink.

At one point in his recovery, he asked me to give him a full schedule.  Against my better judgement, I did.  He couldn't do it all, so I picked up two hours of his classes.  It was a looong month for Rob, with a total of 3 hr/day of overtime.  Made good money though, which came in handy, because . . .

A Korean wedding is expensive.

To be continued...

So which would you rather have, a cliff hangar or more delays?

[Yes, I used the wrong hangar. Jon VanHoose commented that it gave him an amazing vision of a home for planes clinging to a cliff, from which they could take off by just falling. It's tempting to go back and edit these pieces, but that's a slippery slope I do not wish to approach. If I ever write a memoir, I'll consider it.]

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A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.