Sunday, April 27, 2008

Oh My Back

The Stumbler has been having a lower back pain on and off over the past few months. Suddenly, this week the pain was so strong I had to go visit the doctor. In the past, this back ache would bother me at night and in the morning, but during the day either it went away completely, or at least the pain was so small that I forgot about it. Well, that changed. I could NOT forget about the pain during the day, and it was making me really tired and grumpy.

So, CH took me to a nearby doctor's office which specialized in bones and muscles. The doctor took a couple of X-rays, and bent my legs around. "Does THIS hurt? How about THIS?" Finally he announced that there was nothing seriously wrong, but I had a lumbar sprain. Gave me some medicine, and sentenced me to recommended 1 hour of physical therapy. All that for $25 doctors fee and $7 pharmacist's fee.

CH left me to go to the drugstore, while I stayed behind for the therapy. First, they had me lay down on my back, with a heating pack under my lower back. I think because I have poor posture, my back doesn't like laying in that position. I was a little bit uncomfortable for the first few minutes, but soon it actually became pleasant. After about 20 or so minutes of that, they came and changed to electro-shock therapy! Two electropads were positioned on my lower back, and the machine shocked me. It was a very weird feeling, kind of like a strong vibrator. In fact, the feeling was so strong, I called them back to lower the setting. That went on for about 15 minutes - the machine went through a progammed cycle of various shock patterns. Next came the ultrasound treatment. Some kind of ultrasound probe was rubbed around my back for 5 minutes. Finally, I received infrared treatment - basically they shined an infrared lamp on my back for 5 minutes.

For all that treatment, you'd think my back would be in perfect shape. I can't say it was, however. For the rest of the day, my back felt pretty much the same. The only improvement I have noticed is that it didn't hurt as much during the night, so I have been able to sleep better. The medicine they gave me consisted of a muscle relaxant, an anti-inflammatory drug, and something for "gastric distress" which the other pill causes. So I can't say if the therapy or the medicine was helping.

I'll have to decide tomorrow whether or not to get more therapy. They only give medicine for 3 days here in Korea, so you have to return. I'll have to decide whether to get more "treatment" or not. I am inclined to say no. My friend JI told me his brother worked at physical therapy hospital, and could give me free treatment if I wanted it. Also, he recommended I try accupuncture first, before returning for more therapy. Finally, I read this quote on the internet about lumbar sprains: "Physical therapy and spinal manipulation are of limited benefit in most patients"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm Not in Kansas Anymore

I took a short trip on Friday to Kansas City, which actually spans two states: Kansas and Missouri. I visited my colleague John, who worked and travelled with me throughout Asia for a couple of years. Because of various job changes and home moves, we haven't seen each other in maybe 2 years. Here are some photos of the whirlwind tour of Kansas City.

Here is the hotel that John recommended. This is the view from my room on the 5th floor. As you can see, the middle of the hotel is a big open space. They served a free breakfast down below, you can see the many breakfast tables.

On Friday morning I met with John and his new business partner Brian for breakfast at The Cracker Barrel (so I didn't take advantage of the free breakfast at the hotel). After that, we visited their new offices and had meetings until lunch time.

At lunch time, we drove around the city some, and stopped by John's parents house. I had heard so many stories about his parents and family, it was nice to finally meet them.

We had another business meeting that afternoon, then headed out for dinner in the downtown Kansas City area. I am so embarassed to admit what I ordered for dinner. The restaurant was very nice, and had many interesting items. Of all the choices, I had meatloaf. I know this is a simple, normal food, but this restaurant made a very special kind of meatloaf from beef and sausage mixed together. It was delicious. After that, we went for a few drinks until we met a fellow for a late business meeting.

The next morning, John took me out to see some farmland where he will build his new house. It was very large and beautiful, I think they will enjoy living there. Also, it began snowing, which made everything look even more pretty. We stopped by his wife's parents house, where I got to meet them as well. Here are some photos of the area near his land. First, here is a tobacco barn that is used to hang and dry the leaves after harvest.

Here is a view of the "Main Street" in the small town near the farm.

And here is the church established in the middle 1800's.

I had a great time, and look forward to our next meeting ... in Korea.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Stick Shift

Made it back to the USA for a 4 week visit. As usual, things have been very busy on top of the jet lag. I did find time to introduce Young Stumbler #3 to driving a stick shift. I think she is a natural at it. After one more practice session, she will be ready for the roads. Also, I will take her Monday to get her drivers license. Full report to follow next week. Here is YS#3 happily behind the wheel of a stick shift pick up truck...

EDIT: Congratulations to YS#3, who passed her drivers license test on Monday. She passed the test in the first try, unlike one other Young Stumbler who shall remain unidentified. She took the test in an automatic transmission, but soon she will be a confident stick shift driver I am sure.