from the Korean Army to being published

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

Random #70: David Dunn and Mr. Glass

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“Don’t worry about me,” I said to my brother Jason and Mark from the gurney, bleeding from multiple gaping wounds, heading into my first of five surgeries. “I’ll be out of here in a couple days. You’ll see.”

Sixteen weeks later, I’ve just had my cast taken off and am walking to a taxi with my brother after a feast at Dos Tacos.

“Don’t ride anymore,” he urges, something he rarely does because he knows I’m just going to do whatever the hell I want.

“It’s okay. I’m invincible.”

“Whatever, Mr. Glass.”

My brother Jason momentarily confuses my statement as an allusion to a movie I often reference with regard to myself, Unbreakable (2000)*. I believed that if quasi-superheroes walked among us, I was one of them. I’ve survived countless collisions and scrapes and a few-near death experiences and survived with a lot of stitches and bruising but no breaks beyond a boxer’s fracture in my right fist from punching what I thought was a wooden door but turned out to be something like those petrified redwoods in California. I broke through the windshield of my first car in a head-on collision and walked away with about thirty stitches, a lot of bruises, and an ER bill that made me contemplate suicide, but I was fully functioning after only a couple days. This is one of the reasons why I believed I would die at 35 or live forever**.

This misplaced belief in my invincibility has not faded much, although I admit that I can no longer compare myself to David Dunn unless my superhero weakness is not water (which, coincidentally, I am deathly afraid of) but a sedan crushing my leg into my motorcycle at 50 km per hour. Aside from the first couple weeks of my hospital stay in which I was constantly asking for painkillers, the sixteen weeks of my hospitalization thus far has been relatively pain-free. Even after each step in my slew of surgeries, the post-operative pain lasted only as long as I was in the recovery room. This shit is a breeze, I thought.

That’s what I thought until I had my cast taken off on Thursday and tried to put a small portion of my weight on my newly unencumbered leg. The unbearable, shooting pains in my foot that brought tears to the corners of my eyes told me clearly—This is only the beginning of the pain, motherfucker.

The pains were right and feel the need to remind me every time I put a reasonable amount of weight on my leg. It wasn’t supposed to be this hard. I was supposed to be walking, without crutches, within a couple weeks and be back on a motorcycle within the same time frame. I can’t even flex my ankle—every time I try, I can only manage to raise and lower my big toe—and I know that the pain I feel is only a harbinger of the pain to come.

“You’ll be on crutches for at least the next two, three months,” the owner of the coffee shop downstairs said, his wife nodding knowingly beside him. (My doctors don’t talk to me so I get most of my medical advice from my barista.) “It probably won’t be for another six months that you’ll be able to walk normally.”

Had he said this before I had my cast taken off, I wouldn’t have believed him. I would’ve done what I normally do when an older Korean feels the need to dispense his nonsense on me, nod and smile and pray that one of us will fortuitously get an important phone call. Having physically experienced the obstacles I will have to overcome in the coming months and the limitations of my healing ability, my nod was one of acknowledgement.


Comparison of my legs, the day the cast came off

* He wasn’t referring to Invincible (2006), the story of Vince Papale. Although I love fantasizing about walking-on and playing in the NFL, I was already far too small and out of shape for that to happen before the accident. Now, I don’t even know if I’ll ever be able to run again, which would make it impossible for me to be the next Devin Hester.

** I really don’t want to live forever. I’d much rather go in a horrible motorcycle accident than in my sleep. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time left to make the first deadline in my prediction. Perhaps this accident was supposed to be it—it happened a few days after I turned 35—and the universe is telling me that I have no choice but to live forever. Not that I’m not going to try to struggle against the powers that be with alcohol and cigarettes.


2 Responses

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  1. That’s an amazing contrast between your two legs, there. I see a lot of jumping rope and/or stair-climbing in your future. Once you’re more or less pain-free, of course.


    April 13, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    • It’s going to be a long time before I can even imagine jumping rope. I’m still only dreaming of the day I can walk without crutches.


      April 14, 2014 at 8:30 pm

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