Life with Billy – My New Umbilical Hernia, March 2001 (Korean Accounts 2000-2001)
As I write up these notes some five years after I wrote them (2006), I have to add that this entry is in reflection very significant. This is the point at which my martial arts experiences will never be surpassed and I very much doubt whether I will ever kick a bag again or perform a technique with a ‘kiai’ that rivets my body in tension. When I look at the date of this entry, 12th of March, 2001, I calculate that I have had exactly 24 years 1 week and 3 days of relative health in which to pursue taekwon do. I started my training at the Song Do Kwan on March 3rd, 1977. I had incredibly powerful stomach muscles and at one time could do 500 sit-ups in one go, do sit-ups with a hundred pound weight behind my neck, have broom handles smashed over my stomach and swing a heavy sand bag against it. Though I never had a washboard stomach, I realise now, especially when I look at photos of myself effortlessly swinging a leg above my head, how incredibly fit I was. However, like so many athletes I never thought I was fit enough. It is only now as I look back that I realise I was fit, very fit and yet I never allowed myself to acknowledge that., I find it sad that I am only able to experience the extent of my successes from the position of the disability that now stops me pursuing the path of the martial artist. How I miss it, how I love and loved it! How ironic I should suffer this demise in Korea, the birth place of taekwon do.
24 years, 1 week and 3 days after my very first taekwon do lesson, by Master Georg Soupidis, of the Song Do Kwan Academy, Osnabrűck, and I lifted a child up at Yon San Dong (영산동) Letter and Sound. I recall a small tearing sensation close to my bellybutton, like something separating and afterwards felt a small lump to the side of my navel. A frigging umbilical hernia! I have since had two more and when I last visited the consultant, Stephen Barker, a former doctor for the British taekwon do team, he told me I’d have to stop doing sit ups and kicking a bag. His words made nauseous and I remember walking out of his office onto a busy London street feeling incredibly numb. But I have jumped the gun, going back to Daegu (대구) I didn’t yet realise my days of serious taekwon-do training were over.
The lump was only small and it goes away when I lie down. It has this routine and pops out around lunch time. I was quite concerned at first but after spending several hours on the internet I have know become a little more knowledgeable about hernias. I am going to the doctor on Monday and will have surgery to repair it which apparently is best to do now than later. Training doesn’t seem to aggravate it. It isn’t painful and I believe the operation only takes an hour and is performed as an outpatient.
Mr Jo still hasn’t organised our health insurance despite Nana and I having asked him many times. Jo said he would take me to a doctor he knows but I am going to my doctor as I trust and like him.
At first, I thought about returning to the UK but would probably have to hang around there for ages waiting for things to happen. I am much more tempted to have it repaired here. Private health care is much cheaper here than in the UK and so far I have been quite impressed with what I have seen. I certainly don’t think it’s any worse that health care in the UK.