So far this year I’ve been sick twice. That’s ahead of schedule for me. I usually get sick 2 or 3 times a year with sinus infections. They really suck, but I’ve surrendered to the idea that I’m vulnerable to them. Sinus infections or sinusitis, as it’s known in the medical world, is generally accompanied by a host of symptoms. They often include, but are not limited to, nasal congestion, sinus pressure in your ears, a little irritation in your throat, coughing, headache, and lots and lots of mucus. The key to self-diagnosing an infection versus, say, being merely congested, is the color of your abundant mucus. When you see green, you can say, “bye-bye” to Thera-Flu and Tylenol and “hello” to a real doctor and antibiotics.
Normally this is not much of a predicament. I call my doctor, go see him, get a prescription, end of story. But today was different. Today is Sunday in the City of Angels. I decided I needed to get some medication around 8am this morning. I knew I was in bad shape and tomorrow is a travel day for me. If I waited until tomorrow morning I could be feeling really shitty, and even worse, I might develop more sinus pressure in my ear canals which could make flying not only uncomfortable, but dangerous. As in, “oops, there goes my eardrum.” So I decide to be a grownup. I get out my laptop and begin searching: walk-in clinic urgent care los angeles. To my surprise, the search nets mostly cannabis clinics and ophthalmologists. I knew needing weed was an emergency, but glasses? I had no idea. I keep searching and searching. I get numbers that lead to answering machines, because remember, it’s Sunday. Finally after about 10 phone calls I get a human voice that answers. I’m excited. I ask if I can just walk in without an appointment. Yes. Great. I confirm the address and off I go.
When I pull up to the building my spidey sense immediately tells me that something is off here. There are people shuffling, not walking, towards the entrance. The signs are in Spanish first, English underneath in smaller text, and people are eye-balling me. AIDS is in the air, as a famous explorer once said after landing in Botswana. That’s what I was sensing here. I walk past the 30 or so phenomenally depressed looking people in the lobby up to the front desk. A woman behind the counter asks me if I’ve ever been there before. I say, “no,” and she hands me a form, telling me to fill it out and bring it back. I’m really feeling doubtful at this point. And this is before I read the form, but I feel like shit, so I say, fuck it.
I sit down to fill out the form and my eyes are immediately drawn to the part of the form that says, “If you’re NOT homeless check here. If you are homeless put the names of the streets you usually sleep on over here.” Okay, first of all I have nothing against the homeless, but I do think the man that answered the phone when I called should have said something like, “Homeless medical attention. May I help you?” And I would have responded, “I’m not homeless, but I need medical attention. Where should I go?” Instead I’m in a waiting room that smells like pee. I’m so upset at the prospect of not getting help that I fill out the form and I hand it back to the woman behind the counter. She adds all of my info into the computer and I then hand her my insurance card. She gives me an unamused glance before blurting out, “We don’t take that insurance.” Really? Everyone takes my insurance. “We don’t.” Okay so how much is it? “80 dollars to see the doctor. That doesn’t included any medication he may prescribe to you.” Fine. I go to the cashier to pay first and the lady behind the counter notices my insurance card in my wallet. She, being a rational person, asks, “What are you doing here? You have insurance.” Uh, I don’t know. There’s nowhere else open on Sunday. “The hospital is open on Sunday.” I’ve never been to the hospital. “You have insurance. Just go there.” Fine. I’m leaving the homeless place, but the lady behind the counter doesn’t like it. She yells out, “Thought you were gonna see the doctor.” Yeah, I thought the wait wasn’t going to be long or 80 dollars just because I’m NOT homeless. So I leave.
Now I go to the hospital. I’ve never checked into a hospital before. I follow signs until I see this one:
Notice that the English words are first. They’re not bigger, but they’re first. That’s huge. I’m getting somewhere. This means white people actually walk into this place. Maybe there will be real doctors here too.
I wait and I wait and I wait. Finally I’m called into a room. This room:
Shit is literally coming apart in this room. The walls are falling apart. What does this mean? This means panic is setting in again. It means that I’m beginning to wonder if I made the right decision by coming to this hospital. I’m actually questioning whether or not I should have STAYED with homeless people to get medical attention. That’s fucking insane, right? I can afford real medical attention but it doesn’t look all that promising. At this point I’ve been on this journey for 4 hours. 4 hours to get a goddamn Zpack so I can get over this awful infection and just feel normal. You know what would make sense? If we could just drive down to a grocery store and say, “I have an infection. I need antibiotics. Thanks.” We should be able to do that, but we can’t because there’s more money in making us go in and wait and pay to have someone tell us what we already know.
Well I got my antibiotics and cough syrup and nasal spray and all kinds of other shit and now I’m taking my sick body up to Minneapolis tomorrow for a week of shows at one of my favorite clubs in the country: ACME
Hope to see you there or at a homeless medical center soon.