On August 14, a day before 70th Liberation Day of Korea, I was riding my bike along Dunsandae-ro northbound towards Expo Park to meet my friends for the great fireworks when a car stuck me as I was riding the crosswalk. I was thrown off my bike and dropped several feet over where I hit the ground on my left bottom. The pain struck immediately and I was worried that I might have broken my pelvis or something. There were several other people crossing the street and few of them rushed over and asked if I was alright. I do not remember saying anything though — I guess I was traumatized or at least stunned by the whole thing. I was just trying to figure out what the hell happened as I was sitting there in the middle of a crosswalk with bystanders gathering around in circle.
A young woman was repeating “I’m sorry” as she hurried over. I did not get to see a good look on her face as I was still dazed and kept wondering what I broke. I just remember she kept saying that she’s sorry and that I must be badly hurt because she was driving in a hurry. Well, from what I recall the car didn’t seem to be in full speed or anything when it hit me — and it could not be able to because the street I was crossing was almost like a small alley and the car was turning to enter this alley when it hit — but I did feel that the driver did not immediately hit the brake when it ram over me and my bike. I did not get to know the driver so well, but she did seem like an inexperienced driver for some reason.
One of the bystanders called 911 (119 in Korea!) and within few minutes an I could hear the sirens approaching. Few of the people who voluntarily offered to help stayed closed to me and kept talking to me as to reassure that I was okay. At first they attempted to give me a hand when I tried to drag myself off from the crosswalk — because I was still kind of in the middle of the road and that wasn’t so safe — but some of them were against the idea as I may have broken something and I should be best to just stay still. I figured they were probably right. They stayed close by until the ambulance crew took me away. I should have really thanked those bystanders for helping me out and looking after me. At the time I was just too stunned to even remember to thank those who helped.
The ambulance took me to Eulji University Hospital which is probably the biggest hospital in Dunsan area. I only found later that Eulji is notorious for its lousy service and overcharged bills. Well, the driver’s insurance agent came in as I was waiting in the emergency room and took care of all the bills for that day which included x-rays. They’ve done x-rays mainly on my pelvis area and on my right knee where the actual impact took place when the car came in from the right side. I was relieved when a young doctor came in and asked me to lift my legs and such then told me that my x-ray result is clear and no bones are broken. It’ll just take a week or so until the bruises heal.
So I was told and that is what I believed. Until about a week later I started feel this pain in my back — especially when I bend over or pick up something heavy or even when I sneeze. The pain I had on my butt is not so much now but this new pain in my back was bothersome more so because it wasn’t hurting on the day of or the day after the accident. I went to another big hospital in the city: Daejeon Sungmo Hospital near old downtown area. Another x-ray but this time focused on my spinal area. The result is still clear. Nothing’s wrong with the bone and the pain could be from the tensed muscle, they said.
However, the pain grew quickly as days pass and even lying on my back started to hurt. We went to another hospital — this time a smaller one called Sege Bangsaseon-gwa — a private hospital specialized in radiology. I asked to have an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan which shows more detailed and clear shots than x-rays. After 20 minutes or so of scanning, the result came back as I have a compressed fracture on my T12 vertebra, or 12th thoracic spine.
For the first few days after the accident I’d been taking pills initially provided by Eulji which included painkillers. That could be the reason that the back pain was delayed. But in the end, after visiting different hospitals and re-taking x-rays I finally found out that I fractured my spine from the car accident I had 10 days ago. If I had kept trusted what those doctors told me and never went for that MRI scan then I would still be walking around unsure why my back hurt from time to time. I guess I should say that I’m lucky to find out the cause, although late, and get properly treated for my spine.