Thursday, February 22, 2007

Short Cuts

Before I got into the shower, I weighed myself. 172 pounds. Holy shit. I was 181 the day before at the clinic with my clothes on. I lost at least 18 pounds since I arrived in LA. Most of that was due to my illness and the fact that I had not eaten solid food since Monday. I went several days without solid food, pot, and sex. For the life of me I couldn't pop a chubby. That how sick I was. The last few days all I ate were vanilla milkshakes and soup.

I had a combination of the flu which I almost conquered in NYC but relapsed during the blizzard on Valentine's Day. That sickness festered the first few days in LA and morphed into strep throat by Monday. Maybe I should have had my tonsils taken out last year when the doctor in Las Vegas suggested it to me. As is, I knew what the symptoms of strep were... I had an outrageous fever and cold/flu meds were not working. My worst fear was a reality... sick only days before a big gig, the LA Poker Classic for Poker News. I have a ton of respect for them and did not want to let the team down by getting sick.

I had strep for the second time in 11 months. It hurts so much to swallow that you almost cry. It's like swallowing razor blades. Then the ear ache started escalating. My right ear felt it was getting pounded by a hammer. Any loud sound made me reel back in pain. I had two choices when I woke up on Wednesday morning... Cedars Sinai hospital in Beverly Hills which would cost me about $2K without health insurance or the free clinic in West Hollywood where all the indigents went for health care. I picked the free clinic peppered with homeless people, AIDS patients, 16 year pregnant girls, and people who didn't speak a lick of English. After two plus hours sitting in disease infested waiting room, all I got was penicillin, some extra-strength Motrin, and a possible case of scabies from the guy in front of me who looked like Abe Vigoda. But at least my conversational Spanish has improved.

Inside of 24 hours I went from experiencing some of the worst pain in my life to feeling a lot better. By late evening, my ear ache disappeared and the throat pain went from a 9 to a 6. Last night was tough but I gutted it out. I watched a ton of TV due to the insomnia. When you are sick, sleep is the best remedy. But when an insomniac is sick, it's pure torture. I thought about all the negative things in my life. Unable to speak to anyone, unable to do anything but try to fall asleep and wince in pain when I had to swallow.

I watched some basketball and then a few flicks including The Constant Gardener, Crash, and Short Cuts. Robert Altman's flick based on Raymond Carver short stories was a three hour and twenty minute epic. I hoped I would fall asleep during it but I managed to watch the entire thing before finally falling asleep around 4am.

Aside from a sore throat (pain is currently around a 4am and still unable to speak, I'm much better today. I haven't felt this good in weeks. No fever. No runny nose. No aches. No back pain. I'm skinny again. I ate solid food this morning and although I didn't finish my plate of scrambled eggs and bacon, I managed to get solid food down with minor pain. The hot tea with honey is a godsend.

Nicky did a wonderful job taking care of me. I'm lucky because she saved me. She even washed all my germ ridden clothes, drove me to the clinic, and went to the store and bought me supplies. She made me shakes and soup and tea. She kindly slept on the uncomfortable couch in her living room while she gave up her bed. And then she got up to make me breakfast. I think I freaked her out yesterday and she nearly made a command decision and rushed me to the ER room. I begged her not to... since the clinic was free along with the drugs they gave me. I can't complain about that.

With all the bullshit going on with the government and online gambling, I lost sight of some more important issues like the eroding civil liberties of our citizens and the clusterfuck called our health care system. If my government says I cannot play online poker... well I can accept that if that means when I'm sick with strep throat, I can go to any hospital and get affordable care. Of course that's not the case. Instead of worrying about people's hobbies they should focus more on education and health care. But those aren't sexy issues.

These days, the Clinton Camp is all in a hissy fit because their former Hollyweird chums are backing Obama instead of Hillary. Sure, Hollyweird backed the last two losing Democratic candidates in Al Gore and John Kerry, but this time they want to put their money behind someone who's not a career cunt. Obama is a fresh new dish and Hillary is yesterday's leftovers.

I gambled on not getting health insurance and I saved a few thousand dollars in the last year. Luckily, I was able to get out of this last illness without any serious issues. I know I'm going to have to suck it up in the future and eventually break down to get some sort of basic coverage. Part of me is simply too busy to sort through all the red tape. Maybe I'll finally have a few free days to find something solid and affordable. Until that day comes, I'm an uninsured taxpayer like several other millions of Americans. And the worst of it? I might have to pay anywhere from 30K to 40K in taxes and social security for my 2006 return. With that much money I giving my government, you figure they would give me free heath care? Of course not, that money is going to fund in a war on the other side of the globe.

So since I can't talk I've been walking around the apartment with a small notepad writing Nicky notes. I asked her to call a few people like my brother and Maudie to let them know I'm much better and on the road to recovery. When you lose the ability to communicate, it makes you appreciate proper health. But it also makes me appreciate the fact that I'm a writer and even without speaking, I can still convey a message with words. Now that I have the enrgy to write, my depression has evaporated and I have something positive to look forward to.

I'm supposed to start work on Saturday and was given the chance to skip it if I was still feeling blah. We'll let that be a gametime decision. For now... I'm feeling much better and waiting for all the swelling to go down so I can indulge in all my favorite things like a juicy cheeseburger from Nick's diner around the corner or French Toast at John O'Groats.

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