My mother is not a woman of staunch religious conviction, but if there is anything she does believe in, it’s that professional medical assessments are a last resort and are to be relied upon only when all other options have been exhausted. We Kims avoid hospitals like the plague (no health-related pun intended) and scorn offers for aspirin and ibuprofen. As far as my mother is concerned, there is <almost> no medical malady that cannot be healed with the power of time. And for those that truly cannot, there is eastern medicine: gut-wrenching, gag-inducing, throat-burning herbal cocktails that…oh, it looks like they do work.
So when I came home from a weekend trip in my freshman year of high school with a very badly fractured finger after a poorly-timed catch in a game of kickball, my mother’s personal evaluation was that as I was still able to continue walking, eating, breathing, and sleeping, a visit to a doctor would not be necessary.
Several weeks later, the pain had subsided, but my finger remained deformed as a result of the injury. Mama Kim sighed as she reluctantly lugged me to the family doctor, who sternly advised that the only way to return my finger to the way God intended was by re-breaking it.
“Oh, no, sir. That is not happening. This fracture was on my right hand and I write with my right hand. If I have to wear a brace on my finger I won’t be able to hold up a pen. And if I can’t hold up a pen, I won’t be able to keep up with any of my schoolwork. And if I can’t keep up with any of my schoolwork, then my grades will slip. And if my grades slip, I won’t be able to get into a decent university. And if I can’t get into a decent university, I won’t be able to get a good job. And if I don’t get a good job, I won’t be able to pay my bills. And if I can’t pay my bills, I will die. Do you see why I cannot afford to have my finger re-broken?”
For a while, I harbored anger at how there was no sense of urgency in responding to my finger injury, though now it no longer bothers me and I don’t even notice it unless somebody else does. The first time I brought it up to my mother, however, she did apologize briefly and made an effort to cheer me up as she chirped,
“Look at it this way. At least your future boyfriend will propose on the left hand, and not the right!”
Well I GUESS.