CHEAP EATS The good news is that my asshole itself is just fine. It took me almost three days to convince the imbecilic network of Kaiser phone reps that no, it weren’t hemorrhoids, you’re going to have to actually fucking see me. Apparently my $350 a month isn’t enough to warrant them having a look at my ass once every six years. Let alone sticking a finger in it.
“Probably hemorrhoids,” they said. “Someone will call you.” Which they didn’t, so I called back, and back. Five, six times.
And they said hemorrhoids.
The fifth or sixth time they said hemorrhoids I said, “You don’t understand. I haven’t been constipated since the late 1970s. Constipated people call me from across the country. To chat! Just talking to me makes them have to use the bathroom. I’m serious, it’s what mothers love about me. I get all the poopy diapers, and they get a regular baby. One mother called me — you’re going to love this — I was on vacation, and her kid hadn’t pooped since I left. Could she please just put him on the phone with me, maybe the sound of my voice would loosen him up. Which it did. And now you’re trying to tell me I have a hemorrhoid? Do you know who you’re talking to? Trust me. I wish I were sexy, like everyone else in the world. But I’m not. I’m good for something else: eating with, and talking shit. And yes, the two go hand in hand. As it happens, you probably-entirely-blameless representative of a crock-of-shit company, even what little sexy I am is mostly my mouth and my asshole, so can we please get this taken care of please, because I don’t get a lot of love as it is, and my lover is visiting from New Orleans in a week. Plus I’m afraid to eat hot sauce, which is my muse and antidepressant. So …”
“I’ll have someone call you,” they said.
And, you know, eventually, someone did. My old Rohnert Park doc, who is a superhero, must have called San Francisco (after talking with me) and explained that the crazy lady they’d been ignoring, losing in the system, and silencing with red tape really was the world’s Most Regular Person — seen in a strictly gastroenterological light — and was more likely to be carrying the seed of an alien civilization in her asshole than a hemorrhoid.
I don’t know if those would have been her exact words. But finally, after being in pain for nearly 60 hours — sitting, standing, walking, lying down — and 24 hours after the onset of general achiness and chills (possible symptoms of systemic infection, by the way), I was able to make an appointment!
It took the doctor less than 30 seconds to determine what I’d been trying to tell them for two days. It wasn’t a hemorrhoid. It was an abscess or cyst or something, and it was infected. He put me on antibiotics and went to get someone to cut me.
And it was she, my cutter, who put her finger in and said that, yes, my ass was fine.
I’d been trying to tell people that for days, and in a larger sense, for years and years. “Thank you,” I said.
My whole right cheek was red and swollen and incredibly painful to the touch, but she decided not to cut me for two days. I’d have argued otherwise, but I was already an hour late for dinner.
Luckily it was with Mr. Wong, my patientest of friends.
Over Korean fried chicken (or KFC) at Red Wings, just a hop, waddle, and short 38 ride down Geary, I related my Bukowskiesque ordeal, complaining about Kaiser much as I have just done toward you.
Minus the chicken, which was pretty not-all-that-half-bad — at least the fried. Mr. Wong got his roasted, with garlic and herbs, and I tasted it: dry dry dry.
“Well, look at it this way,” Mr. Wong said, chomping chicken. “At least you have health insurance.”
True. And at the end of a week when two of my aunts died, I have my overall health, and life. But honestly, between an infected abscess and the health care provider I pay to take care of such — er — bumps in the road, I don’t know which is the bigger pain in the ass.
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