Elwood 5566

Life with Billy – My New Umbilical Hernia, March 2001 (Korean Accounts 2000-2001)

Posted in Korean Accounts Part 1 by 노강호 on March 13, 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.

Creative Commons License
©Bathhouse Ballads –  努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.
Tagged with: ,

Gout Attack – Wednesday, December 6th 2000 (Korean Accounts 2000-2001)

Posted in Health care, Korean Accounts Part 1 by 노강호 on December 6, 2000

I’ve had an attack of gout for about a week. The last attack I had been four years ago but of course, it always comes at an inconvenient time. Last time was when I was on holiday in Asia and it quite ruined things for me. Now I’ve started training and the day after I took my yellow belt I get an attack and it can really be very painful. It’s a horrid pain that niggles and niggles and ruins your outlook on the day by sucking away all your energy. All I can equate it to is having a hot knife prized into the joint of your big toe. In the UK doctors usually prescribe Allopurinol which takes six months to take effect. In my case the gout is hereditary and is caused by the body’s inefficiency to remove uric acid from the blood which then crystallizes at a point where the blood is cooler – such as the big toe. Gout has been such an integral part of my life that I’ve learnt a lot about it and have tried most of the alternative remedies to alleviate it – eating cherries, charcoal, allo vera juice and so forth. In Germany it is called ‘gicht’ and now it has become one of the first words I can say and even write in Korean – dong poong (동풍). This is derived from Chinese and means something like pain of wind which perhaps refers to the waves of pain for which it is associated. One moment the pain has gone and the next it swoons upon you to the extent you could almost cry. I always remember my dad having gout attacks and sometimes he couldn’t even bear to have a cotton sheet draped over his foot whilst in bed.

On Tuesday, the gout wasn’t feeling too bad so I went training. We had another session of Korean Tai chi which pleased me as I didn’t have to put too much stress on my foot. However, next morning it was back with a vengeance. I was depressed as Korea is becoming nothing but a trip in pain of various types. I haven’t done anything at the weekends since I have been here as I am constantly nursing injuries or aches and pains. Everything that could go wrong with my body has. My skin is dry and my nose is dry and sore both caused by the ondol heating system of Korean houses – this is basically heating built into the floors and which you cannot escape from. I have a tooth that has a sore gum and keeps bleeding this being caused by a new toothbrush which I have since replaced by an electric one. My heels are sore and cracked and I have a small septic spot on the corner of a finger. I decided to go to the doctor about the gout but as yet I don’t have the medical insurance which was part of my contract. There wasn’t time to ask Koreans or Nana about procedures, he is working so I hobbled down the road to a health center which I have often passed.

I have come to realise that Song-so is slightly up market and the health center was fantastic – six floors of specialist of every type, eye doctors, renal specialists and so forth. My doctor (who I still use 16 years later) had prior experience of gout. In the waiting room I only had to wait fifteen minutes and it was equipped with a TV, plants, big sofas and luxurious carpets. The medical equipment looked modern and the blood pressure machine was automatic and not that antediluvian sphymometer thing. The doctor spoke English and was really helpful, further, he didn’t waste time checking whether or not I had gout. In the UK you’d think gout pills were hallucinogenic because of the barriers they put in place to stop you getting them. There have been numerous times when gout has messed my plans up, especially my training. Even going on a diet or taking protein supplements can evoke an attack. The doctor gave me some drugs, I have no idea which ones but 24 hours later and the attack had subsided. The cost of my visit was eight pounds. The pain and swelling has gone but I decided to rest from training for the next week.

Creative Commons License
©努江虎 – 노강호 2012  Creative Commons Licence.