Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunday Funday

Yesterday we set out for Home Depot to buy tomato and herb plants, but halfway there Flip complained that the intermittent pains he'd had for about a week were back, and crippling. He was gasping for breath.

I was driving so I headed for the hospital. Turning around to backtrack isn't easy in San Francisco because most of the main thoroughfares do not allow left turns, and traffic is also heavy on Sundays. We ended up taking a slow detour through Golden Gate Park before I was able to get back on a main road.

The young woman who checked Flip into the ER told me that she loved my makeup. I wasn't wearing any makeup. I hoped that the medical personnel would have more astute observational powers.

I also got to choose a religion for Flip in case he expired. I have had more heartening conversations in my life.

We waited in the Emergency Room, which really ought to be renamed the "Unconcern Room," for three hours before Flip was given a gurney in a freezing hallway where we loitered for another 4 1/2 hours. He was X-Rayed, CT'd, IV'd, and various bodily fluids were collected.

A nurse was dismayed that Flip's legs were hanging off the end of the gurney.

"He's tall," I said.

"His legs are hanging off," he repeated.

"Yes, he's 6'4" and he's lying flat. Maybe he could sit up a bit."

I helped Flip to sit up while managing to avoid dislodging the tubing in his arm, and his legs and feet went back where they belonged. The nurse seemed less troubled. I was glad I could help.

The long wait was caused by a log jam. There were a dozen people awaiting hospital beds which were not available, so they were being stored in the ER. The daughter of one patient told me that her mother had been in an ER bed since mid-day Saturday because there was no room for her to be admitted.

It was truly a no-room-at-the-inn situation. Does that mean that Flip is Jesus? I must ask him when he wakes up.

He has a kidney infection and possible kidney stones.

It ended up a fasting day for us, although nothing else was remotely fast, because we had planned to get brunch somewhere and hadn't eaten since Saturday night.

The hospital cafeteria was closed so I binged on junk food from machines. All the stuff I have avoided my entire life was there. I had only a ten dollar bill but the change machine gave me some quarters and eight large gold dollar coins with Madison, Monroe, Jefferson or Liberty on them. They were so tacky that I thought I was in Vegas, except that there was no place for me to sit. I think slot machines have chairs so people can spend all their money before they get tired.

For my first course, I bought a bag of yogurt peanuts and scarfed it down in seconds. The next course consisted of Welch's fruit drops, which are like gummi bears and gummi worms without the interesting animal shapes. I shared them with Flip, who was hooked up to an IV. He liked them, but he is easy. He likes anything sweet. They had no taste at all. My main course was a Fig Newton with a side of Rold Gold mini-pretzels and a cup of tea I scrounged from a nurse who was a ringer for Carlos Solis on Desperate Housewives. There was no dessert.

I didn't see any cadavers, which leads me to believe that Gray's Anatomy and ER may be overstating things a bit.

We were finally discharged with three prescriptions including Flip's favorite, Vicodin. A good time was had by none.

This morning at 4:30, he awakened in pain so I walked to the all-night pharmacy to get his meds. I was not alert enough to drive.

The patient is flying high feeling somewhat better, so we went for a short walk. The owner of a Mercedes had just gotten a parking ticket around the corner, even though his meter had not expired. He was yelling obscenities at the meter cop, who yelled back, "Sir, read the sign behind you."

The sign decreed that there be no parking during certain hours for street cleaning. Several people on the sidewalk could not resist grinning with pleasure as everyone who lives here has been stung more than once by the outrageous parking fines in this city, which easily rival the Iraq War budget. I think I heard a few cheers from the gallery.

Schadenfreude in San Francisco.


Anonymous said...

Amazing. Simply amazing. How do you do that? You are a magician with those words. Incredible.

I am glad that Flip has been diagnosed and -- hopefully -- his pain will be eased.

And I hope you -- sans makeup -- are well, also.

thailandchani said...

I hope Flip will feel better now! The treatment you received in the hospital sounds like something from a fourth world country. Unbelievable!

I've had a few of those "dinners", too. :)

Rachel said...

VICODIN, yo, muthas! WHOO!

Hope he feels well soon, not just high.

Get some sleep.

RED MOJO said...

I hate "emergency" (ignore you) rooms. What a horrible experience. You pay through the nose for medical insurance and then get treated like cattle at an understaffed slaughter house. So I exaggerate a little, kill me.

On a limb with Claudia said...

I am so very sorry. What an awful experience. While I'm delighted that Flip isn't more ill, I'm appalled at the state of things - every where. Your story is not unusual - and very sad.

I hope you both heal well and soon.

furiousBall said...

you guys get better and stuff. seriously. no foolin'

Bob said...

jeez - I could have lent you some vicodin and you could've avoided that hospital party.

I seriously hope that he doesn't get kidney stones - omph.

and - how do you think they are paying for the iraqi skirmish? parking fines.

seventh sister said...

Kidney stones..YIKES! Flip has my sympathy on this one. (It may have been caused by cold feet on his legs but that cannot be proven, can it?) I sast with a guy at Kerrville one night while he tried to pass kidney a stone and just watching him hurt. A gung ho furst aid nurse wanted to call an ambualnce and I had to stand him down because my friend was not about to get in one. We finally talked him in to going to the hospital by car. He bought me a necklace the next weekend for saving him from the big bad ambulance.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I've been spending a bit of time in hospital corridors of late too so I fully empathize. I hope Flip is feeling better. There must be a way to make hospital corridors more fun. What do you think?

As for you sans makeup.....isn't that a compliment?

the walking man said...

First thought..."glad i am not 6' 4" because of the many times I have been on that gurney."

Second thought Vicodan..pshaw, candy, give the man some real pain relief and hit him with a short shot of dilaudid.

Third thought, I want your dinner it's been so long since I was able to gorge on junk food

Fourth thought, damn she must be hot to look THAT good while all worried and shit without face paint.

Fifth that one goes to Jim Beam so i ain't going there

Sixth thought, glad it is something that while painful was not even more serious.

Seventh thought...Hearts sounds like her and her old man should be HOPI tribes people and that should be their religion on forms.

Final thought, quit whining you can afford the Mercedes suck it up and pay the ticket. Your government needs the money more than you.

See you DO make me think



Nick said...

Sorry to hear you had to brave the medical services but glad things are now looking up. And I see your droll sense of humour never deserted you! Hospitals are much the same in the UK - shortage of beds, long delays, unhealthy food for visitors. Plus we'd probably have to wait weeks or months for all those tests. After all, as you say, there's a war to pay for.

Anonymous said...

You're so gorgeous that the nurse couldn't imagine there was no sleight of hand involved. Wow!

Sad that you were stuck eating the overpriced machine food. I get upset when I'm stuck with junk foods that aren't on my "cheat list". If I eat junk I want it to be my specific choice of junk - not random stuff.

Poor flip! I've never suffered from stones, but I've heard stories - thank goodness for scripts!

I'm always happy to see one of the priveleged brought back down to earth. It's Mercedes karma.

WNG said...

Schadenfreude - the official pasttime of G. Yeah, yeah, I'm mean. I can't help it though.

Hey - why aren't there mini bottle vending machines? Then you wouldn't care about waiting!

I'm glad you and Flip are home and ok :)

Craze said...

Sounds like a rough trip to the ER. I despise the ER, no one is rushing around in a big hurry there, that's for sure. Glad he's feeling a bit better. Pretty scary.

Rebecca said...

My husband and I have been down this road several times, as he is prone to chest pain that requires angioplasty. Usually with that history they tend to you a with a little more alacrity, but not much. When he went in for extreme gastric distress, there was absolutely no sense of urgency at all. Weekends are absolute ER hell!

Hope Flip feels better soon! Kidney stones are just awful.

And the nurse was jealous...she just couldn't believe someone would look so good without make up :)

OC said...

I have to say, everything about that post makes me glad I've moved out of San Francisco to Montana. It made me tense just reading it. I'm sorry you guys had such a horrible time of it. I can so immagine you guys going to Home Depot, only to have to backtrack through the city. Yikes...

Hope you both feel better soon.



heartinsanfrancisco said...


I am well, thanks, and Flip is impressive. He can swallow a whole handful of pills at once, while I used to take birth control pills crushed in applesauce, like a baby.


I think there are simply too many people in the world. Populations grow and old buildings can't accommodate them, especially hospitals and schools.


Party on, dude.


Cattle in a slaughterhouse. I'm beginning to think we got off easy.


He has drugs and I have sympathetic blog friends. We'll be fine.


That's the plan, Van.


You deal? If I'd only known.

In that case, San Francisco is paying for the bombings of whole countries. We have the most mean-ass parking fines in the world.


It is well-known that cold feet on ones extremities cause many terrible diseases and conditions.

I will, however, tell Flip that he owes me a necklace since I took him to the hospital in the car.


And I empathize with your corridor time. Flip is still in too much pain, so we're seeing our regular doctor today.

I was quite surprised that she made that assumption but yes, I imagine it was a compliment.


I don't think this hospital is set up to drape bodies in red blankets and hoist them into treetops, and they certainly don't know the Hopi prayers for such occasions.


Yes, it's so much more important to kill people in other countries than to give adequate health care to those in our own.


Yes!! If I am going to eat unhealthy food, it will be tiramisu or creme brulee, chocolate cake or at least Carr's ginger-lemon cremes. What a rip-off.


It's as good a pastime as any, and you never run out of opportunities.

Incidentally, the guy who was ticketed has a vanity tag that says "It Tapt Me" and he parks all over the area. Apparently he can't afford a garage space, while we drive a lowly Toyota Camry which lives indoors. What's wrong with this picture?


Everyone there was in slow motion, strolling around sucking on Starbucks, not at all like they do on TV.


I'm so sorry that you and your husband have so much scary disease to deal with. "Emergency Room" is definitely a misnomer.

Makeup can be fun, but no one should be dependent on it.

Molly said...

The sad thing is ERs are like that all over. Tey don't care. To them you're just a piece of meat. All kinds of unrelated people come and poke you and prod you whilst you wait[for the bed that isn't available] on that gurney. None of them knows [or cares] what the others are doing.....

Glad you escaped back to your own place and that Flip is feeling better, if a little spacey!

Jonah K. Haslap said...

Vicodin, eh? Any left over? Don't you owe me a birthday present? C'mon, you've read my blog, you know I could use it.

Hope Flip's stones have rolled!

Anonymous said...

Schadenfreude in San Francisco

Were you referring to Act III, scene 2 ("general hospital") or Act IV, scene 1 ("mercedes rules")?
Either way, sounds like you've held up despite ongoing mendacity.
Seriously, it's hard sometimes, isn't it?

Flip is lucky to have had you present. Suffering alone is the pits. Short-acting opiates, however, seem to have made up for what's missing. Or so I am told.

Best to you both.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


We just made another emergency run to our regular doctor, who had a 2-3 hour wait for stand-bys. Of course Flip was in too much pain to sit that long in a Marquis de Sade designer chair, so we drove home.

When his Vicodin runs out (soon,) I may jump out a window.


No, but they are gathering moss right where they are.

Maybe you could get some good drugs from your palindromatic college roommate, if he's still living. Which is doubtful.


Vicodin isn't that effective, really, if your pain is severe enough to warrant it, and is very quickly addictive.

Your good wishes gratefully accepted.

The CEO said...

Glad to have you both back in one piece. The only way to speed things up is to go to the hospital in an ambulance. You cut out that first four hours and actually get into the emergency room, for the price of the ambulance. You still get inventoried in e.r. if you need a room. A bed is a bed, a nurse is a nurse, and that e.r. nurse is probably better than almost any nurse except an i.c.u. nurse.

On the other hand, the best thing about hospitals is leaving alive. Congrats on having one of the best experiences on Earth, leaving a hospital alive.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Yes, especially after being asked about various post-life directives , which doesn't exactly instill confidence.

Plus, riding in an ambulance really makes one feel important. :)

Melanie said...

Yikes. Sorry to hear about the scenario. Kidney stones SUCK!!!

best wishes to Flip. Pain killers... They gave me morphine when I had my kidney stone. Which made me want to watch Sesame street!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


They gave Flip morphine by IV at the hospital. He is out of Vicodin now and our day will be spent waiting to see our doctor as a stand-by to get more pain killers.

I am allergic to morphine, sadly, but Flip has a much friendlier relationship with drugs. And I love Sesame Street!

Ian Lidster said...

You are so tough, my dear, and so realistic. I admire you immensely. What a grueling day, especially when you didn't yet know what the issue was. I have often thought that if parents told young children what life is 'really' like, they'd all kill themselves. Thank God there are some bright points along the way.

urban-urchin said...

oh ouch. I'm sorry that flip is in pain- I hope they gave him really good drugs.

The post begs the question- which religion did you choose for Flip??

Hope this all passes (no pun intended , okay well, that's not really true) soon.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Well, I am all for life, on balance. There certainly are a lot of bumps in the road though.

We're not out of this yet. We learned that he does have kidney stones for sure, and he is out of pain medication. He can't be seen by a urologist until Friday and it won't be pretty in the meantime.


Flip is Protestant by birth. I like to ask him, "Are you a Presbyterian or an American first?"

Why should Jews and Muslims have all the hard choices?

Sienna said...

Hearts and Flip, so sorry to hear this, the illness, the pain and dealing with your health system.

Our world is imperfect and none more so when the health system is involved, an overloaded, over stressed skeletal framework of bare necessity(ies).

My niece just had a similar experience here in Oz with her kidney stones, the pain is (can be)agonising...seriously not funny.

My heart, prayers and thoughts are with you on this, having to work through this sysytem, and all the other folk too..

Get back to your Doc or anyone that can help (prescriptions) for his pain, Friday wont come quick enough Hearts. Thank goodness he has you to keep an eye on stuff.

Take care and big hugs.


Mariposa said...

I hope Flip is better now!

And yes, I hate ERs...a very chaotic place with people who are in emergency state semblance! LOL

Los Angelista said...

What a horrible experience. I'm so sad that this happened to you all and that it happens to other folks all the time. I just saw a great Frontline on PBS last night about the healthcare systems in Japan, UK, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland. They're all better than ours.

Ugh, I'm so glad he's got some medicine now to ease the pain.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Our primary care doctor did call in a pain prescription to the pharmacy and Flip needed it at 3:30 a.m. so I was very glad to have it.

He is seeing a urologist tomorrow and I hope surgery won't be required.

Thank you so much for your good wishes. I can feel them all the way from there.


ER's are not my best thing for sure, but it's a good thing they are there.

If we had better health coverage for more people, though, they wouldn't have to clog ER's when something suddenly goes wrong that might have been avoided if treated earlier.


I'm glad, too. And I would love to live in Japan. If only...

Wouldn't you think that the U.S. would have excellent health care across the board, though? And maybe we would if we didn't have to send all our money to war.

Robin said...

as my ER sis quotes, "I don't want you to get hurt, I just want to be there when you do". ER is a strange monkey all on its own.

katrice said...

I'm so glad Flip is not feeling a thing and that this was a manageable emergency. Your tummy, on the other hand, I hope it's all better too. The junk we like doesn't always like us back.

jameil1922 said...

that was a hilarious post. i guess the makeup thing is a compliment as in you look so good it couldn't be real? lol. maybe they were just tired. i hope when people die they don't wheel them out through the ER! like "ooops there goes another one. 5 more hours & this could be your fate, too." (journalists, cops, dr.s, morticians and those original creators of the term gallows humor... sometimes i don't even know when a line has been crossed.) do people tell flip he's a tall drink of water b/c that's the most hilariously horrid euphemism to me.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Yes, and while I have nothing but admiration for those who give their lives to medicine, I prefer to be elsewhere.


He's still in pain, actually. He may need surgery. We hope to find out today.

As for me, I won't make the mistake of going out hungry again.


I don't believe they wheel the dead bodies out through the ER. They have a large trap door in the floor for that. They drop them into the basement and let the undertaker sort them out. (Don't you think "undertaker" is a peculiar word?)

jameil1922 said...


DMB said...

Hope Flip is feeling better real soon. Those emergency hospital visits can be such a drag. On another note, your writing is brilliant! I absolutely love it. You're so talented.

Odat said...

I think it's awful that you have to wait so long in a hospital ER. Been there, done that!!! But I'm glad Flip is on the mend.....

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Wow. Gosh. THANK YOU!! You're very kind.


"Emergency" is kind of a misnomer, isn't it? I know you've had more than your share of such places.

Thanks for your good wishes.

Anonymous said...

Ooh,gosh - awful day - I'm so sorry. Hope he;s feeling lots better.

remora said...

yes you are a magus of the-linguo


heartinsanfrancisco said...


Thank you so much! We're getting there, I think.


You are very kind. Thank you for coming by and saying such nice things. I have always wanted to be a magus.

If you have a blog, I'd love to read it but the lack of a link in your signature would seem to indicate that you don't. Please let me know if I'm wrong.

Quiet Rage said...

Heh, heh, heh.... Mercedes driver getting a ticket;) Justice does make small appearances every once in a while.

My cousin is a nurse, and the stories I hear about our medical system are unbelievable.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'm so sorry I missed your comment earlier. Blogger had made it impossible for me to comment here and I was trying various things until I figured out that the Preview function doesn't work.

I have always wanted to see Montana, which sounds incredibly beautiful. It must have been a tremendous adjustment from the Bay Area.


They're all true.

And yes, the Mercedes driver had such an attitude of entitlement that you could feel waves of pleasure going through passersby.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


I hope Flip feels better soon, without the pills.

Sorry about the hospital and giggled about the parking ticket...

Made me wonder what that karma was coming back to him from.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

eastcoastdweller said...

Mark of a good writer: To be able to find the humor in what was obviously not a fun day at all.

eastcoastdweller said...

I'm also glad to see that I'm not the only one to be unimpressed with the design for the new dollars.

This portrait-facing-forward fad of the Mint these days is just silly.

And I don't know casinos but the design definitely reminds me of something from Chuck E. Cheese.

Give us back those giant Eisenhowers! Now there was a coin!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It must have stung to have to pay a parking ticket on top of what the car itself cost.

Into every life some fines must fall.


The Susan B. Anthony dollar was confusing because it was too much like the quarter. I prefer paper dollars, although they do get quite grungy after they've been in use awhile.

These new ones look like play money, so Chuck E. Cheese is a great analogy. I'm a poor gambler and hate smoke so I don't go to casinos either.