It Wasnt the Cheese!

Health crisis hits Commie Central

Although I was laid flat—near death!—in a Burbank hospital last week, it cheered me to know you were in the capable, lovely hands of my Fascist Pal, Alison M. Rosen. (Of course, everyone knows Jews can't be fascists unless they live on the West Bank.) That is, I was pleased except when it sent me into cold sweats that the younger, funnier, cooler (she is in a band, after all) Pal was clearly making the most of my broken body to march on my page of prime journalistic real estate. And I, with a disgustingly drippy IV puncturing my slender wrist, wasn't in much shape for a siege. The lesson, as it is for the more than 5,560,000 people in California who have no health insurance—about 20 percent of the population—is simple: don't get sick.

I was in Hollywood when it happened, at the bitchen apartment of the man who had been my boyfriend until we downgraded our relationship status from hurricane to tropical storm. But that wasn't stopping us from getting freaky. What stopped us from getting freaky was the searing abdominal pains shooting through me like it was Guy Fawkes Day and I was the Tower of London. We stopped getting freaky. "There's something really wrong with me," I said. "I think you broke my appendix."

So off we went with my broken appendix to Providence/St. Joseph over the hill in Burbank because a Hollywood hospital is not the place to be in the middle of the night, although, come to think of it, I probably could have gotten loads of good material in the waiting room. I was terrified that the broken appendix would turn out to be nothing more than severe constipation brought on by the loads of really good cheese I'd eaten at the party/showcase the day before, which had taken place at the Sun Theatre. I'd been dreaming about cheese all week, waking up with thoughts of quiche floating around in my head, and then the party featured trays tumbled with Brie and blue cheese and garlicky Neufchatel. So I'd gotten medieval on that cheese like I was George Argyros or Cynthia Coad before wandering back outside the lavish, velvet-draped SunDial LoungeVIP room in time to see Hellbound Eddie kick the shit out of a founder of the Huntington Beach Hardcores (apparently a really fun neo-Nazi group; his heart belongs to Hitler, but he had "Mom" tattooed on his neck). Then Eddie grabbed his own striking, tall, blond wife by the hair and shook her like a puppy. Then they all got kicked out. But the cheese! And its potential havoc on my bowels! Wouldn't that be embarrassing, falling into the ER, brought low at the hands of cheese? What if they had to give me an enema? I clung to the hope that it was just appendicitis or life-threatening peritonitis.

The man who had been my boyfriend (let's call him "Bob") stayed with me in the ER through the night and most of the next day, while three different doctors decided it was probably appendicitis. Appendicitis isn't at all my style, and I said so. "It's just not like me," I told them, but they didn't believe me. An ultrasound didn't show much: there was too much gas obfuscating the view. It's the cheese! At around 9 that night, they took me in to operate, and I cried and cried. Everyone was horribly sweet, but I was terribly ashamed. I hadn't eaten since the night before, when we had shown up at Laguna Beach's unbelievably posh and moderne art space seven-degrees unannounced—with a cockamamie story about how we'd been invited by a woman we'd never met. Quelle horreurwhen the woman whose name we'd been throwing around came over to us herself. But we were feted as if we were movie stars and given a gorgeous dinner. Anyway, I hadn't eaten since then, so I had that horrible breath that curls up from the bottom of your digestive tract and peeks outside your mouth like a famished tapeworm after a three-day hunger strike. I didn't want the nurses to think I stank. And my nose was running.

When I was a little girl, I lost my eye. I was in the hospital for three weeks, and you can ask Commie Mom: I never complained once, except when a huge black nurse came in to give me a shot. I flipped out, and my parents begged me to stop. "You'll hurt her feelings," they told me, but I wasn't having any more needles. Twenty years later, I'm still ashamed about making that nurse sad. But before my appendectomy, I couldn't stop crying, even when the Russian anesthesiologist cooed at me that it was all right. I couldn't stop, which made me more ashamed, which made me cry harder. I wasn't being brave. I wasn't being a big girl.

When I was wheeled back to the room, Bob told me it hadn't been my appendix at all but a burst cyst on my ovary. The gas that had obstructed the ultrasound wasn't gas; it was blood. I'd been bleeding internally and had lost about a pint. Of course, since they were in there to get my appendix in the first place, they took it. Appendices can only lead to heartache. Then they gave me morphine. It was lovely.

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