Saturday, November 09, 2019


An internet meme I particularly like states: "If I have a medical emergency don't you dare call an ambulance; y'all better Uber my ass to the hospital because we're not about to pay $5,000. for a ride in the wee-yoo wagon".

So a few months ago I had an appendix.

The pain started on Friday afternoon, I was supposed to be off that Saturday, the Palo Alto ceramics thing was happening that weekend, and like every year I intended to go. And like a typical man I stupidly soldiered through the pain, and went. Saturday was surreal. Saturday night was horrid, the pain was considerably worse, but I was scheduled to open up at work for the next five days, and determined to do so. Sleep proved quite impossible. Shortly after four o'clock the pain spiked, and I realized that there was no way in hell I'd be in Marin at ten to open up.

Took a taxi.

I live five minutes away from Chinese Hospital, where that morning I was the only emergency, but over half an hour away from SF General, where an ambulance would have taken me ... after ten to twenty minutes of doing stuff. I would've been last in line for attention, behind people bleeding of gunshot and knife wounds, drug addicts and psychos having overdoses and fits, and attempted suicides, and I would've been dead, probably, because someone sentient and ambulatory and not bleeding is not a priority, even with a ruptured appendix.
Then they would've sent a huge bill for the ambulance and emergency care to my address of record. And forwarded it to a collection agency.
Law-suit to follow shortly thereafter.
So yeah, no.

The idiot who sliced his thumb while cutting up left-over pizza in a drunken and stoned state would've gotten stitches before they looked at me.

That fellow grimacing over there? Must be something he ate.
All he needs is Pepto and a Valium.

Appendicitis? Naah!

SF General is where a patient died in a stairwell last year, and it took them several days to find her. They've also gotten in the news because they decide that if someone can pay, they can then damned well pay huge amounts to cover the cost of destitute people who can't.

That's also where a friend got an infection that nearly killed him, because they did not change the temporary tubing that they had put in.

An ambulance costs an arm and a leg.

At SF Chinese Hospital they had me on the table in record time. They were quick and efficient. Sent me home five days later with loads of antibiotics.

Everything considered it was an overwhelmingly positive experience.

[NOTE: it was no spur of the moment insight to go to Chinese Hospital that morning; I had chosen the clinic at Chinese Hospital as my primary care providers deliberately, precisely because they were close by. Plus I figured that they would have experience dealing with stubborn old coots who don't take advice and occasionally swear in foreign languages (in my case, Dutch and Cantonese). And who wants to die surrounded by strangers anyway?]

Next time I have a medical emergency we're calling a taxi and heading over to Chinese Hospital. Because I really don't want to die at SF General.

And we're bringing along a pipe and a pouch of tobacco.
I might feel like a smoke afterwards.

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All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

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