post op, cabin fever, and waddling santa penguins

I generally believe that no matter what, Conan O'Brien can make everything better. Everything but this. I discovered last night during his show that laughter = ouch.

I had an open inguinal hernia repair on Friday:  we sliced a nice 3 inch gash into my abdomen to fix a hole that had torn open on my lower abdominal wall.  Some repairs are done laproscopically and I could have skipped the hardcore recovery and scar, but evidently, women and hernias are rare and it is important to repair them firmly without chance of re-tearing since there's that whole potential for child-bearing thing, etc.  Also requiring more caution and recovery time is the fact that we didn't go the usual mesh repair route due to the location of the female reproductive system.  Strike two against womankind.  It seems we would have started a war with my ovaries, et al by suffocating them with mesh.  Soooo, stitches through and through, which would make me nervous if not for the awesome reputation of my surgeon.  I'm certain he done me good.

Rumor has it that I jibber jabbered chaotically under the anesthesia until I closed my eyes, and when I woke up, I was declaring that we needed to go and "rescue the dogs."  Typical.

In the weeks leading up to the surgery, I named my hernia Frank. The idea of a hole in my abdomen was too sci-fi ala "Spaceballs" for me, so personifying the situation was better for my sanity.  My plans fully revolved around Frank and his needs since mid-October:  "Can't stay out too late, guys, Frank needs to hit the hay," and "Frank doesn't want that for dinner tonight."  He's throwing a bit of a tantrum at the moment, but he'll settle down soon and peace will resume within my abdominal walls.

Where did Frank come from? Who knows. I was in the middle of training for a half marathon (and rockin' the training, I might add), when he made his appearance. My surgeon says I likely had a small tear already and running exacerbated it. He also said in the cases where women get hernias, they are usually born with the susceptibility to have them, so there we have it, straight from the good doctor: I was born holy.

Anyway, the countdown is on:

8 more days until I can drive (apparently driving uses stomach muscles?), 2 more weeks until limited activity (aka driving and getting around), and 6 more weeks until full recovery (aka lifting 90875489156 tons of steel with my bare hands).

And so, with the thick of mad cabin fever setting in, I present to you some South Korean Santa penguins to help spread the holiday cheer*:

*We'll pretend for today that nothing weird and war-like is going on between NoKo and Soko.

Frank-less with cabin fever,


blog stalkin'

I found a site called The Korean Blog List and I have wasted approximately 874567568957 hours learning more about the authors of the listed blogs than I know about my close friends and family. The stalker in me can't wait to hunt them all down in person to befriend (in the least psychotic way possible). Quick shout out to those wondering about this random "Katerbait" that is now following their blogs, twitters, etc: Hi. I'm nice and yes, I've already envisioned us all as the best of friends, enjoying dinner and drinks together, exploring the beautiful sights at sunrise and sunset, frolicking along the beaches, hiking the mountains, and learning about the culture while laughing at ourselves for befuddling our way through new traditions and strange experiences. This vision appropriately occurs in slow motion and black and white, just like the movies. Can't wait. Show me the ropes, be my friend?

The blogs are all written by westerners living in SoKo (Soko = South Korea. Totally hopping on that slang bandwagon), and about 98.4% of the authors are blogging to depict their experiences living and teaching English in SoKo. A few of the most blogged about subjects, you ask?

1. Housing. The schools, both private and public, provide free housing to foreign language teachers. I know exactly what to expect when I get there: a shower/toilet. Apartment bathrooms simply hang a shower head over the toilet and combine the room with a drain in the middle. I've seen this before, once in Africa at a hotel on Zanzibar. It came in pretty handy, as I ate some food from a street vendor and violently paid for that decision all night. Nothing more efficient than the combined bathroom in that particular instance, at least.

2. Feeding... "ramifications." Not unlike my previous detailed experience (just trying to fit in), people are pretty open about getting sick from experimenting with their meals. Some are more discreet than others, but every blog details some experience about eating the wrong noodles and paying the price. Dee-lish.

3. Soju. SoKo's bevvy of choice. It is a vodka-esque drink, made from rice, and incredibly affordable. According to Wiki, it varies in alcohol content from about 20% to about 45% (I don't really know what alcohol content percentages mean, I am weak).

...Drinking in general seems to be a hot topic for westerners to blog about, as many seem initially shocked (and then pleased) by the heavy drinking culture. Apparently South Koreans work and play at the same full throttle pace and it's not abnormal to frequently get wasted with your boss. I generally consider myself more of a wine sippin' hippie, but for a few anomalies this year... ehrr, thanks for the memories, Pub Crawl trickster. You too, altitude + alcohol experience en Peru. You old dogs, you. Anyway, I found a tip to avoid any "wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy" situations: simply keep your glass half full to prevent unwanted refills, because refusing drinks can be offensive. I'm usually a "glass half full" kind of gal anyway... ba doop chhh.

4. Fan Death. From fans being removed "for their own safety," to the lack of fans for sale when sought after, or simply hearing random and confusing fateful fan stories, every blogger has had some experience leading to their discovery of the legend of "fan death." In SoKo, rumor has it that leaving a fan on in a sealed room will kill you. Justifications for this include:

a) The fan creates a vortex, which sucks the oxygen from the enclosed and sealed room and creates a partial vacuum inside.
b) An electric fan chops up all the oxygen particles in the air leaving none to breathe.
c) The fan uses up the oxygen in the room and creates fatal levels of carbon dioxide.

Whaaat?...This urban myth is taken so seriously that they even sell fans with timers so that they will shut off in case you (God forbid) fall asleep in a sealed room while one is running.  Huh.

Here's to continued stalking and learning -