from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Entry #65: “Literally” Crippled

with 2 comments

Every day around 10 in the morning, the Head Nurse makes her rounds of the patient rooms. She’s a kind lady who’s perpetually smiling and has this way of asking questions that may or may not be sincere but certainly seem sincere.

“Were you able to sleep last night?”

“Not so well.”

“Were these jokers making noise last night?” she asks, indicating the five other patients in the room in general and the octogenarian dementia patient across from me specifically. She doesn’t actually say jokers, but something in her demeanor makes me believe that she’s on my side.

“No, they haven’t been a problem lately.”

I’ve been ready and willing to blame others for my continued sleeping problems, but even the dementia guy and his loud wife have been behaving themselves at night and yet I still find myself rolling side to side restlessly for hours on end, trying to find a sweet spot that doesn’t exist. I’ve even tried sleeping on my stomach, which isn’t so easy with a bum leg.

I personally enjoy blaming others for my problems. It makes them—the problems, not others—easier to deal with. But when the fault is obviously not on other people, I’m forced to look at myself.

“It’s weird but painkillers help me sleep.” I feel like an addict trolling for painkillers. “I don’t feel any pain—my leg doesn’t hurt at all—but I can’t sleep at night.”

“Okay,” she says, patting my leg gently, not a tinge of suspicion betrayed in her expression. “I’ll tell your nurses to give you painkillers with your antibiotics before you go to bed.”

I still can’t sleep the entire night, but at least I can lie still long enough to fall asleep for the first four hours. I still don’t know why I can’t sleep and if it’s because of my leg. The important thing is that I can fall asleep and, regardless of what happens the rest of the night, that’s all that matters.

The problem that’s been really troubling me for the past eight weeks is that I haven’t been able to write. I can manage blog posts because it’s practically freewriting and I don’t revise. I don’t know why I can’t. I just can’t. I haven’t been able to touch the manuscript. Opening the Word file is about as far as I can get. And although being on painkillers and having trouble falling asleep has actually led to a cornucopia of story ideas, I haven’t managed to put any of them down in writing.

If I could find an easy fix like painkillers or had some idea why I can’t write like the guess that a subtle pain in my leg is keeping me from sleeping, I would at least be able to take some measures to get back into it. As it is, I can only hold out for the next couple of weeks and accept a ten-week break from writing until I can return to my routine of haunting the coffee shop, chain-smoking while sipping a tepid Americano.

* On a side note, Stephen King got into a traffic accident in 1999. He was hit by a minivan while walking on the shoulder of Route 5 in Maine. He had a collapsed right lung, scalp laceration, and a broken hip. He also had multiple fractures of his right leg—kind of like me—but after five operations in ten days, he was back writing the next month. He was only in the hospital for twenty days. (How is that possible? I’ve been here for almost sixty?)

** One consolation is that I’ve been reading much more than I usually do. Being unable to create, at least I’ve taken to study. I’ll probably post a separate entry on this later.

*** My fourth surgery is in two hours. Hopefully it will be my last.


2 Responses

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  1. I can only hope that “fourth time’s a charm,” in defiance of Korean superstitions surrounding the number four. Happy reading!


    February 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    • So far, so good. That’s all about I can say at this point. I’m going to post an update today.


      February 20, 2014 at 4:17 pm

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