Buhang Rears Its Bloody Head Again

Eleven years ago I bought some wooden clogs (made in Sweden) at Marshall’s for $25.

Those things have been handy while driving my stick, because I can’t move my toes. I can’t really feel the clutch well either, but…

I went to the foot doctor today because I wasn’t really happy with the way that the regular doctor handled (read: ignored) me and my toe. Since I’ve fractured bones in that foot before, and since I’ve had knee problems, I wanted to see an actual foot doctor.

Foot Doctor, who was rather young and attractive in a Republican way, looked at my foot and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bruise such a perfect round shape before…”

I scrunched up my face. “Ahh, yes, that’s because I had buhang, traditional Chinese bloodletting, done last night.”

Foot Doctor slowly raised his head to look at me. “You had what?”

“Um do you know what cupping is? Blood cupping.”

He shook his head, “No…”

It was pouring rain last night, so I picked Good Man up from school. Afterwards we went and bought rice (a 20 lb bag! We’re moving on up in the Asian cooking world!) and then swung by my studio to show School Head my toe.

That. Was a mistake.

“Amanda, you know buhang? We do that.”

I looked horrified and switched to Korean, “아니에요! 부항 많이 아파요!” No! Buhang really hurts!

“No, Amanda, why you whine? You want to heal faster, right? You are strong, right [Good Man]? Buhang, good?”

Good Man laughed. He’s never had buhang before, “I don’t know, I’ve never tried it.”

After several minutes of back-and-forthing, School Head said, “Well how about acupuncture, you like?”

“Oh!” I brightened, “I love acupuncture!”

“OK, come into my office. You go doctor, pay $80 for acupuncture, I do it for free.”

We went into his office. He made a show of looking for the needles while I took off my shoes. “Oh, I can’t find them,” he said, “So we’ll do buhang.”


I stared at Good Man. Buhang hurt the last time it was done. He opened up his buhang kit and I noticed it had a sticker on it from the Korean market.

He sterilized everything, took out a thin needle gun and pricked my skin 5 times. He stuck a bell on it, pumped the air out of the bell, and watched the blood come out of my bruise. (Photos on the next page.)

“Oh, very good, now you will get healthy sooner.”

“Kwanjangnim,” I said, “Next time I get injured, I will stay home, I think.”

To his credit, it didn’t hurt.

Walking to the car Good Man said, “You whine but I think you kind of like it.”

“No. But yes. Because…um…”

“Because he would not do that to foreign student, but you are Korean,” Good Man said, “See? I know you.”