Over the last 10 days I’ve spent altogether too much time interfacing with the so-called medical profession. Guido had another post-cancer surgery, I had to wrestle with a colonoscoper (we failed to consummate the relationship), and we both bit our dentist. This doesn’t include the visit to Dr. Kevorkian (our veterinarian) with Marra, our 19 year old cat with the leaky urethra.
But the strangest was a visit to the Hollywood Memorial Hospital emergency room, where I sat with a neighbor who asked me to take him because he figured he was probably dying or something.
He wasn’t. He’s fine now. That’s not the story.
We squat there, wrapped in sweatshirts and blankets to ward off the arctic atmosphere while the hilariously inefficient system processes the pox-ridden, spasmodic, mortally ill protoplasmic victims in line before us. One of these pitiful bastards, a fellow in his 50s or 60s, crouches in the corner groaning and clutching his guts. A thoughtful fellow, he has brought his own large gaily painted stockpot into which he loudly vomits everything from his tonsils to his toenails, pausing momentarily to collect his breath and bearings, before yakking again. And again. And again…..
“Oh jesus save my ass!” he bellows, submerged to his ears in his personal barf pot (PFP). “Aaaaarrrrghshhbrrtuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhmmrrrrph!”
The whole room cringes, even the bleeder behind us. This wretched soul has his entire forearm wrapped in a dripping bloody towel. He’s as pale as Casper’s ass from hemorrhaging, and it’s obvious the onset of his infection has left him about 2 lengths short of gangrene.
Meanwhile, Buffalo Barf hoists himself up and staggers to the men’s room to dump his fetid stew, only to return to his corner and repeat his rosaries. The horrid stench works its way through the refrigerated waiting room.
Eventually — we’re talking 2 hours already our arrival — hospital staff calls Ralph Upchuck to the intake desk.
“So what’s the problem?” asks an intern. I note his streaked white coat and festive, clown-colored doorag. “Are you taking any drugs?”
“No! No! I think it’s food poisoning!” he gasps. “Mother of Mary help me!”
They check his name against their records, hands over noses. “Weren’t you here two weeks ago?” asks the 450 pound receptionist. “We treated you for the same symptoms. We pumped your stomach clear of enough controlled substance content to knock Godzilla on his spiny ass!”
Ralph stops dribbling bile long enough to look guilty.
“Well?” prompts clown hat.
“Bad food!” he insists. “Same shit as before! I just didn’t eat everything last time and got hungry again!”
Stricken, my neighbor turns to me. “Get me the fuck outta here,” he says. “I’d rather die.”
We get up and go, stepping over the bleeder, who has finally passed out moaning, and lies prone on the floor. We get to my car, where, my boy scout training (“Be Prepared!”) comes to the rescue: a flask of tequila awaits us. Turns out that all he really needed to begin with –almost as much as I did.
Who needs health insurance? What we really fucking need is health care.