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10:38 am - Wednesday, Jun. 14, 2006
Little Jimmy's Big Hospital Adventure (Pt 2)

Little Jimmy's Big Hospital Adventure--Part II


From my journal entry that day:

St Vincent Medical Center–The Emergency Room. Hooked up to an IV dispensing antibiotics and morphine. Waiting for two bottles of a banana-flavored barium drink to work their way through my system, so they can do cat-scans of my abdomen.

I have, in technical terms, “blown a gasket”.

How did I reach this sorry state, you ask?

At that point, I thought I had a hernia, so I went into how I’d carried “The Chopper” in and out of my apartment that past Wednesday, and hadn’t felt right since. But it turned out that didn’t have anything to do with anything–It was just the closest I could come to connecting a feeling (hernia-like pain) with a cause (carrying something heavy).

Is it a “cyst”? Is it a “hematoma”? Or is it an “abscess”?

Looking at my cat-scan, the ER doctor wasn’t sure. But something is definitely amiss in my abdominal region–at one point, I heard the doctor from outside my room, consulting with a surgeon over the phone about my case.

So I’m being admitted to the hospital.

That caught me by surprise. I had though they were going to say “Yup, you’ve got a hernia”, schedule me for surgery at some later date (With nightmarish visions of dollar signs dancing across my field of vision), and send me on my way.

So since I wasn’t expecting to be admitted to the hospital, I had nothing with me but the clothes on my back, a paperback book (Hocus-Pocus, by Kurt Vonnegut), and a journal, to entertain myself while I waited in the ER.

And I was anxious–mostly about the “money aspect” of what was happening–but not doing as badly as you might imagine, under the circumstances. I had been feeling a lot of anxiety in the days leading up to this, and for better or worse, at least now it was finally being attended to.

I’ve called Mark and Jane (There’s nothing they can do, obviously, but I just wanted their sympathy).

I’ve called ArcLight (First to say I probably wouldn’t be in today–at one point, I actually thought I might just be a bit late–then later to say I was being admitted to the hospital, and probably wouldn’t be in tomorrow either).

I called JS, to let him know the deal, and to tell him I guessed I wouldn’t be available to go out for the next couple days (“Unless I actually book something,” I told him. “Then I’ll get off my friggin’ deathbed”).

That last bit pissed me off, because the next time I checked my voice mail, there was a message from JS, saying he “didn’t know what to do”, but I had a callback for the Hummer commercial I’d auditioned for a week or so before (This has happened to me before with JS., where I “book out”, just like I’m supposed, and he calls me about an audition. More than once, actually, and it makes me very unhappy, especially at a time like this)

(Employed my native pessimism in the service of good this time out, regarding the Hummer callback–It’s been killing me that I’ve gotten so few callbacks this year, so to get one now was...pretty painful. So I told myself, “Jim, you hardly ever book those anyway, and you probably wouldn’t have gotten this one”, and I was able to quickly get past it, and move on to dealing with what was in front of me.)

And I’ve called Cary thoughout the day, apprising him of my status.

I called him over the weekend, because I was very uncomfortable and unhappy, and starting to get frightened over the implications of having a fairly serious medical problem.

He was very reassuring, and shortly after we talked, he emailed me a page worth of relevant web addresses and phone numbers (All I’d done, up to that point, was call the LA Free Clinic, where I got a recording saying that the clinic was “not accepting new adult patients for general medical care or dental services at this time”).

I think calling Cary was the smartest thing I did. While I probably could have found those addresses and numbers in time, Cary found them immediately, and gave me the “nudge” I needed to get this taken care of.

I’m pretty sure that, without him, I might have gotten as far as hitting a couple of “free clinics”, finding out they weren’t free (Funding’s a big issue when your city’s apparently going broke), then going in desperation, when “discomfort” had turned to “pain”, to the nearest emergency room I could find, where I’d now be writing about my $30,000 medical bill.


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