South of the Border: a different kind of trip

Hey, I recently took an interesting trip. It wasn’t to anywhere cool like India, Jack Daniel’s home state or San Miguel de Allende — no, it was to the California Pacific Medical Center on California Street, here in San Francisco.

It all started at 3:30 am when I woke up with a slight ache in my stomach. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but by 6:30 it had gotten worse and ejecting my dinner did not help. At 9, I found myself in the waiting room of an urgent care doctor. Unable to pinpoint the problem, she sent me to the biggest crooks in the medical industry, [name of testing place redacted for lawsuit reasons], for the usual rigamarole. From there I was instructed to go to a radiology center for a CT scan. After two hours of increasingly painful waiting for an insurance authorization, I opted to foot the bill myself and had the scan of my abdomen performed. Needless to say, something is wrong with the insurance system if it requires a person in pain to sit and wait while some office drone passes around an authorization form. But I digress.

The radiologist was not “authorized” to tell me what he found, so I had to go to a surgeon’s office to find out what was wrong with me. Anyone familiar with this particular ailment has probably already figured out what my diagnosis was: appendicitis. Knowledge in hand and pain (which had moved to the right side and become stabbing, as opposed to dull) in gut, I grabbed yet another cab and traveled to the illustrious CPMC.

At this point, the trip finally ceased to feel like an endless exercise in aching futility, and I began to relax — well, in a stabbing-pain kind of way. But there is a definite comfort in knowing what is wrong with you. After yet another hour in a waiting room, I was escorted at last to a surgery prep bed and mercifully, mercifully given a healthy dose of morphine.

That’s when the trip went from miserable to not-too-damn-bad-at-all.

Surgery was quick and without incident. The appendix had swollen up pretty badly throughout the day, but had not burst, and the procedure was done laproscopically, so invasion — and damage — was relatively minimal. I even got a cool picture of the thing before they took it out. I did wake up from anesthesia with a nasty case of the hiccups, which, after having had a camera in my belly, was unpleasant to say the least.

I spent the night at CMPC under the care of some remarkably attentive nurses, who made sure my morphine cloud never fully dissipated. I was released the next morning into the arms of my lovely wife, who proceeded to keep me comfortable, well-fed and relaxed for the following week. Through the riveting action of “Red Dead Redemption” and the generosity of the agency in the form of a delectable care package — and despite the pain of not drinking for seven (well, OK, five) days, not to mention the actual pain — I wound up having a quite enjoyable staycation right here in town.

I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but as far as trips go, I’ve been on worse.

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