Stuff I Know

Just stuff by me about me and my life, such as it is.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Not as bad as I thought ...

And definitely not as bad as it could have been. Turns out I have what is classified as a tuberosity avulsion fracture of the fifth metatarsal (It's amazing what you can learn on the Internet.). The doctor at the hospital called it a stress fracture, and in a way it is, but then he is probably just not up on the English terminology.

For those interested ... It is that big tendon, the peroneus brevis, that tends to hang on tight and snap the bone when you twist your ankle too far.
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This is not my x-ray. I was too busy trying to understand all the Korean the doctor was saying to ask for a copy of my x-ray. But it is fairly similar. Image borrowed from Medipix, Contributor: Richard P. Moser, III. Image Hosted by It is really hard to see the fracture there, but then it is the same for mine. The fracture is perpendicular to the long axis of the bone, shows very little separation, and does not extend all the way to the other side.

The doctor wanted to put me in a cast. In fact I think I actually paid for a cast. They make you pay for your x-rays and stuff before any of it actually happens. Once the doctor has a look at you and gives a first diagnosis, you head to the cashier to make sure any procedures required are paid for. I think it was only about $9.00 US for the cast, so I am not losing much money by not having it done. Actually, I talked the doctor out of putting me in a cast. He finally agreed saying I couldn't exercise, couldn't do some other stuff (not to sure about the Korean), had to take the pills, and then come back in a week. If there was any lengthening or widening of the fracture, then I had to go in a cast.

I figured it was a fair deal. After all it is better to be safe than sorry, but being overly safe can be a big hassle. All the information I read on the Internet, from medical, sports medicine, and medical advisory websites, says that conservative treatment is best for this kind of injury. That treatment includes compression wrapping, wooden soled shoes, walking braces, and similar items all aimed at getting weight back on the foot as soon as possible. One site even said non-casting is better to help decrease recovery time as compared to the muscle atrophy problems associated with casts. Here is one sites information on treatment:

A faster return to full activity is seen if using a wool/crepe bandage than if a below-knee walking plaster. Recommendations:
  • All avulsion fractures of the fifth metatarsal base should be offered symptomatic treatment only e.g. supportive bandage or tubigrip for 4 weeks.
  • Aim for early full weight bearing.
  • Further routine radiographs are not necessary.
  • Avoid plaster immobilization if possible.
So even tough I am not a doctor, I think I made the right decision for now. A cast is just really inconvenient. Ever try and shower with one? And I would rather not have to split all my pants up the side just to have them fit over the cast. It is already hard enough finding pants that fit well, here.

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This is my foot. If it looks a little swollen up toward the toes, that's because it's wrapped in an ankle compression bandage bandage all day, around the middle. That burise does look pretty bad though, doesn't it. It hasn't gone away yet, and it seems to come back everyday, even though in the mornings it does look lighter.

When I go back to the hospital about next Tuesday, I will try and ask the doctor if I can get a copy of my x-ray. I will also be sure to let you know how things are going. If I forget, just remind me.

The same hammer that breaks the glass forges the steel.
- Russian Proverb

Monday, December 27, 2004

Still here...

I have some photos for you to see. Head on over to my photo blog and have a look.

Again, I have been absent from posting. Good thing this is not a job, or I wouldn't be making much money at it.

In fact it was my job that was keeping me away. I have been busy giving test, calculating grades, and doing all the other associated paperwork involved with being a teacher. Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike this aspect of teaching? Well, I do dislike it very much.

The semester has ended, but that isn't the end of work for me. Unlike a real teacher, I still have to work. I will be teaching the winter session program until about the end of January. Then finally I can go on vacation for about a month. No vacation plans yet, but something has happened that might make going somewhere even less of a possibility.

I think I broke a bone in my foot the other day. I say think because I have yet to go to the hospital to have an x-ray. Yes, it does hurt, but not so much that I am unable to walk. Well, actually I do kind of limp along right now. I haven't gone to the hospital yet because it didn't seem that bad, and because I dislike hospitals, and because I dread the whole experience of going and not knowing what the heck is going on or what they plan on doing. I guess I will probably go tomorrow, though.

I did some reading today and have determined that what the situation probably is, is a fracture of the fifth metatarsal of the foot, or more specifically an avulsion fracture for the fifth metatarsal. I am hoping it is an avulsion fracture, because it could be what is called a Jones' fracture. The Jones' fracture is a little more serious, especially if there is some displacement.

Another reason I think it is an avulsion fracture is because one of the ways that it happens is in twisted ankles. When you step on the outside of your foot and you continue to twist the ankle, a tendon connected to the little boney point can basically pop off a little piece of bone. And I actually remember hearing a little pop/crack when it happened.

I am hoping it is the avulsion fracture because treatment doesn't necessarily involve wearing a cast. I really don't want to have to wear a cast. With this kind of fracture you can sometimes get by with just compression wrapping and anything that takes the weight off the foot, like crutches, a splint, or a brace.

After I go to the hospital I will let you know more and tell you about what actually happened. Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

It has been a while since I have posted. I have been a little busy. Two weeks ago I did a 70 km ride around Imha lake. It is really a nice place, and the ride was very scenic.

Last weekend I went to a wedding of a friend of mine. Miss Johngsook Pak became Mrs. Johngsook Pak. Nope, the women don't change names here. It was a typical Korean/western wedding so the ceremony wasn't anything special. Weddings in Korea have been whittled down to a basic formula. The couples are in and out in about 45 minutes, just in time for the next couple. On the weekends, the wedding halls are kind of like marriage factories. The most essential element of a wedding celebration, in my opinion, the reception, does not exist. No fun, no dancing, no time to meet and get to know people.

There was one thing that made this particular wedding special, though, it was the fact that my friend Johngsook got married. She has been a good friend ever since I got to Korea. I am very happy for her and her husband and wish them all the best in the world. Posted by Hello

"Success in Marriage is much more than finding the right person; it is a matter of being the right person."
- Anonymous

"Sometimes it was worth all the disadvantages of marriage just to have that: one friend in an indifferent world."
- Erica Jong

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Korea seems to be a country that loves tests. There are tests for almost everything imaginable. If you pass a test, you are officially qualified. Sometimes, qualification seems more important than actual ability, unfortunately.

I believe all this testing is something handed down from Confucian times, when almost all government positions were filled with individuals who had passed a test of learning. Often times, these days, the tests seem to be more of a test of one's test taking ability rather than an actual test of ones ability to apply any knowledge they may have learned.

Recently, there was a big scandal (more news here, here, and here if interested) concerning cheating on the national college entrance exam. The kids were using their cellular phones to pass around the answers. It is too bad the students felt they had to cheat. That is mainly a product of Korea's pursuit of status over substance. Seems if you go to a big name university, you are pretty much set for life, whether or not you actually learn anything at the university. Now the kids were wrong in what they did, but I think part of the blame for this particular episode should go to the proctors who were supposedly watching the students. Why would they even let them have their phones with them during the test. I suspect a lot of people were asleep on the job for this one.

One good thing that may come out of this is that those being tested may be a bit less inclined to cheat. Maybe they will put some of that energy into learning something rather than trying to figure out new ways to cheat.

There is another big test coming up this weekend. This one is for college graduates who want to be teachers. You need to pass the national exam to get a secure job teaching for the government. It as been a stress filled past couple of months for those individuals preparing for the test. I know a couple of people who will be taking the test. These are fairly representative of the candy, except the real thing doesn't have eyes and jump around.I wish them the best of luck. I know they will do well on the test, but the competition is very fierce and only the highest percentage are chosen each year. Traditionally one gives a test taker "yut" 엿 (a kind of hard taffy candy) to wish them good luck. I can't give you all 엿 in person, so let me give you some here. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you.

We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?
- Jean Cocteau