I knew exactly what would happen as soon as Se Ho pulled out his dictionary and showed me: “a folk remedy.”
“My grandmother: doctor.”
Grandma, who the day before, during “Korean poker,” licked a 5,000 won bill and tried to stick it to my forehead, pulled out a box of needles. She massaged my arms briefly and then stuck me in the back of the thumb just below the nail, clicked her tongue, and said, via her grandson’s translation, “Black blood not good.” I had been warned about this. They stick you in the vein, so the blood, deoxygenated, is always black. The left thumb gushed a little, which she probably also took as some indication of the condition of my blood and the need to get the blackness out. I didn’t bother to mention that I’ve been popping blood thinners so that I can bear to sit on the floor every day. Then I had to drink a shot of pickled plum juice.
This followed my refusal to eat a full meal at 10pm. I just couldn’t do it. I’d felt ill all week and that piece of sauceless, oniony pizza at Lotte World left me feeling pretty gross; I hit my breaking point with the always say yes policy. I just can’t eat every time someone offers me food.
Their uncle got home around midnight and poked his head in the room where I was writing. “Sara, chicken.” At my look of incomprehension he repeated himself, “Chicken. Chicken.” Se Ho told him I felt ill. Grandma came back to the room and repeated, with incomprehension, “Chicken?” Apparently the expulsion of black blood is supposed to be effective immediately.
Having said in the morning that I felt fine, I could not get out of eating cold, left-over fried chicken that had not been refrigerated for breakfast. I still feel bloated and nauseous every time I eat, but I’m supposed to be cured.