Flim Los Angeles
Steve’s ER Adventure

"HOLY FUCK WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?"

Let’s face it. Going to the doctor for any reason is generally not an experience you would call fun. Usually it’s something more akin to doing chores and checking something off of your list. When something goes wrong, the experience is absolutely terrible because you already started off at a pretty low point and you’ve got nowhere to go but down. This is a story of one of those trips.

So on a Saturday I got drunk. Very drunk. Close to the drunkest I’ve ever been. I didn’t actually drink that much, I’ve actually drank much more on certain nights and not been so tipsy, but I had forgotten to eat beforehand and thus paid the price. I woke up on Sunday with my first legitimate hangover. The Spins, nausea, vomiting, headache, the whole shebang. I spent the entire day in absolute misery and felt like things could not possibly get any worse. God, how I wish I could’ve warned me of what was to come. Around 11pm Sunday night I went out to dinner with my brother and his girlfriend. We went to our local diner and on the journey there, I began to feel an intense pain in my back. I mentioned it to my brother, and he suggested I was just dehydrated from my inability to consume anything during the day and that he felt similarly. Having experienced kidney stones before, I was immediately worried, as the pain was reminiscent of that, but not quite as severe, so I hoped it would pass. After making it home from dinner around midnight, the pain had escalated tenfold. I was unable to sit down or really exist in general. I took some Vicodin that we had lying around and prayed for the sweet release of death.

Alas, it was not to be, as I knew this to indeed most likely be a kidney stone. As I relayed my fears to my brother, he sighed knowing that he would have to be my means of transportation to the emergency room. So away we went, speeding through the freeways of Los Angeles under cover of the night as each bump caused me immeasurable agony. We arrived at the ER and I stumbled in barely able to walk under my own power. The security guard looked at me and told me there would be a wait. There was only one other person in the ER. As I watched him go ahead of me, I noticed he had some sort of broken bone. A lamentably painful malady I’m sure, but not an internal pain that feels akin to those scarab beetles from the Mummy crawling up and down your internal tubing. In addition, there was only one nurse on duty admitting people and I had no choice but to sit in the room clutching my flank and asking my brother to shoot me in the head.

After about 30 minutes of watching both a full rerun of some god awful show on ABC called “Brothers and Sisters” and the nurse gently tweaking the broken bone of the man ahead of me and asking him if it hurt when she did that, they finally agreed to let me in. I arose and shambled into the admitting area looking like something out of Night of the Living Dead and had now been colored with a shade of green seldom seen outside of a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. After being admitted, I had my blood pressure taken and was admonished for it being a little high. I was glad that the ER had their priorities straight and also didn’t see any correlation between my elevated blood pressure and the horrific pain baby which was currently lodged in my abdomen and was pulsating more violently every second. I was finally whisked into the treatment area and immediately stabbed with several needles.

"You’re right, it does look like a torture chamber."

I was given the choice between morphine or some less powerful painkiller. Having previously experienced the side effects of morphine, I declined it in favor of something else. This something else was administered and proceeded to not do a goddamn thing. After about an hour of this, I was given another shot of something else, which also did not really do anything. My doctor stared at me puzzled and insisted that the stuff should be killing my pain with extreme prejudice. She then shook her head and walked away. After another hour of not seeing another human being, I finally hit the nurse call button and asked what the deal was. The nurse was perturbed that no one had attended to me and told me I would be swiftly moved down to CAT scan within minutes. Another half an hour passed by before I hit the button again and was finally moved down there. At this point I had watched two scam infomercials, an episode of That 70s Show, two episodes of Home Improvement and an episode of Full House. All the while my brother remained asleep in the waiting room where no one informed him whether I was alive or dead. For all he knew, I had been impregnated by one of those chestbursters from the movie Alien and had died seconds after leaving his company. All in all, I was in the ER from 1am to 8am. From about 5am to 8am I simply lay in a bed in complete agony and with no idea what was going on. Around 8, my doctor finally came in and told me what I knew to be true 10 hours before, I had a kidney stone. I was given some pain meds and told to go home so that I could experience the wonder that is passing one through your urinary tract. I was referred to the Urology department of my hospital and given an appointment for 2 days later.

Oh, the Urology department. It’s possibly one of the worst departments in a hospital next to Proctology and the “You have cancer there’s nothing we can do you’re going to die an extremely painful death” department. The Urology department however has a unique place among these others due to its sensitive nature in regard to men. Alright, I’ll just come out with it. If you’re a man and you’re going to the Urology department, you are there for (shudder) dick pain or dick problems. Those phrases were hard to type. Those two phrases shouldn’t even exist. Whoever came up with the concept those two phrases represent should be, no, you know what, I don’t wish ironic dick pain on them. Not even I am that cold. I don’t wish that on my worst enemy (maybe). I tenderly walk into Urology around 10am. I gingerly sit down in the waiting room, which has the horrible sterile smell of all waiting rooms and I look at the hardwood floors and bizarre mood lighting and really want to just get up and leave. I look at the people in the department who naturally happen to be made up nearly entirely of women. This is great. I might as well have had a sign on my back that said, “Ladies, my genitals are not fully functioning and I am half of a man.” I tried my best to avoid everyone’s eyes and began to focus on the television. That’s when “The View” started.

"So I got my period today…"

"The View" must be what is on all the television sets in hell. I guess the powers that be felt I needed everything to shrink and retract into my body even more so than it already had, so they put "The View" on. To make matters worse, their guest that morning happened to be Mad Men bombshell Christina Hendricks. Ms. Hendricks is quite the looker and yet while on "The View" the makeup and wardrobe department managed to make her look frumpier than an elderly nun. So on top of everything my nearly useless libido is now confused at what to think. The conversation steers toward Christina’s wardrobe on Mad Men, which if you’ve seen the show, you know is designed to accentuate her ample curves and make men praise God for creating women. Despite this promising turn, "The View" managed to destroy this brief glimmer of hope by describing just how fat Christina actually is (I know she’s curvy and sexy and I personally find that attractive, but I do not need to hear about how hard it is for them to tuck in her fat rolls) and by mentioning how difficult it is for her to wear a girdle, which Whoopi Goldberg can apparently identify with, and God how I could have gone without that particular piece of information. At this point a middle aged Mexican man in a cowboy hat walked into the waiting room and sat down. Our eyes met for but a second, but in that instant, we were both closer than any brothers could be. He knew why I was here, and I knew why he was there, and I dare you to find anything in the universe that creates a faster and stronger bond of kinship than sympathy for mutual dick pain.

Eventually I was seen and this was pretty uneventful except for me again being chastised about my slightly elevated blood pressure and my doctor leaving me in the middle of my exam to go deal with someone more important. I lay alone on the exam table in dead silence for about 20 minutes until he came back and then sent me off to go fill my prescriptions for more painkillers and anti-nausea medicine.

"Hi there, I don’t plan to help you in any way!"

The Pharmacy of a hospital is also another godforsaken place. You walk into yet another disgustingly sterile room, give them a large amount of money and are told to wait amongst a horde of coughing sneezing, Bubonic plague-infected people as you wait for your number to be called. The patrons of this particular pharmacy had arranged themselves in a manner so that there was not a seat left which would not require me to squeeze in between two strangers except for a solitary corner seat, from which the electronic board announcing whose prescriptions were ready, could not be seen. This necessitated my pathetic carcass constantly getting up from my seat and having to walk to check the board, only to be disappointed that my prescription was nowhere near ready. After about 45 minutes of this, my name finally appeared on the board.

I got up ready to leave this quarantine only to see that there was an incredibly long line I would have to wait in simply to pick up my already paid for medicine. So, I got in line and I waited. And waited. And waited for about another 45 minutes. As I stood there, barely able to keep myself upright due to the exhaustion I was feeling from my body’s attempt to painfully expel a jagged rock with claws from my urinary tract, I saw something amusing. While you wait in line with your feet aching, you are surrounded by treatments for foot pain. Inserts, creams, socks, and other things that promise you that you’ll never have to endure such pain again if you simply shell out $39.99 for them. I assume this to be done on purpose by the pharmacy, knowing goddamn well that your feet hurt when you wait in line and I give them kudos because they very nearly got me to crack. As I approached the counter and had only two people remaining between myself and freedom, two of the four open windows closed. This significantly slowed down the line and I waited another 15 minutes. Just as I was about to attempt to swallow my own tongue in an attempt to escape the cell phone conversation of the woman next to me (who by the way, apparently really regrets having children because she didn’t think they would be much work, which is what she was telling her friend), I finally made it to the counter. I got my medicine, but not before I was shouted at and threatened by a schizophrenic who was getting ready to leap across the counter at an adorable Asian pharmacist because they did not have her medication ready instantaneously after she paid for it.

My ordeal was finally over and life would get better from that point on. Oh, except for the allergic reaction I had to the anti-nausea medicine which gave me the worst migraine I’ve ever had and made me do more vomiting in a couple hours than I had done as a result of the kidney stone up to that point.

In conclusion, hooray for healthcare in the United States of America!

"This is all your fault."

OK College Graduate, Now What?

As I approach my graduation from college I am suddenly filled with a fear that I have never felt before. For the first time in my life, there’s no more schooling to look forward to. When I stop to think about it, school has always been a sort of security blanket for me. I was raised with the idea that school would not be over until I graduated from college. I was going to college, and I had no real say in the matter. This wasn’t a problem, but it gave me the idea that real life would not begin until my schooling was over. Now here we are, about to take the plunge and begin real life and I’m pretty freaked out about it. See, I got a pretty impractical degree. I am an English major who has no real desire to be a teacher and that’s what most English majors seem to be. I picked English because I hate math, enjoy reading and at the time, I had not admitted to myself what I wanted to do for a career. I have since decided that I want to make movies. This is a difficult path to follow and I am acutely aware of this, the thought of the difficulty creeps up in my brain nearly every hour. The thing is, I feel like I have to do this. I don’t have very many skills that are marketable. I am pretty ok at putting words together in a way that doesn’t make people sad and I have a really good memory, particularly for movies, TV and music. These skills are almost entirely useless, save for giving me the ability to annoy people with stupid facts and things I remember for no reason that no one else cares about.

When it comes down to it, I suppose I just want to share some part of me with people. Sometimes the idea of this makes me very sad, because on the whole it appears to be very narcissistic. I mean, I am basically saying that “My ideas are so great, everyone should see them.” I suppose people can take it that way if they like, but I honestly don’t feel that way in my head. I have seen a ridiculously large amount of films. The ones I’ve enjoyed have found a permanent place in my heart and mind, where I am eternally grateful for their very existence. They’ve taken me to places I never thought I’d go, and provided me great pleasure in giving me a two-hour escape from real life, which can be pretty darn mundane at times. I’d like to make movies in order to return that favor and maybe if I’m lucky, provide the same kind of pleasure for anyone who’d be willing to watch a stupid thing I’ve made. So that’s where I am hoping to go with my life. The way I look at it, there are a few ways this can go. I can not try it, do a regular job and be filled with regret for the rest of my life. I can try it and fail, but at least be content with the idea that I gave it my best shot. Or finally, I can try it and succeed, be finally satisfied with my purpose in life, be completely content because I accomplished my dreams, and eventually leave this world with a legacy of things that I made that maybe a few people liked. It’s a high-risk scenario, but the potential payoff is definitely worth the gamble in my mind. I am only 22 years old and have no real obligations. I live 10 minutes away from Hollywood, and I have seen more movies in my short life than most see in their entire lifetime. If this isn’t what I am supposed to do, then I have no purpose. It seems the time has finally arrived for me to begin finding out who I really am. I guess the only thing left to say is lights, camera, action.

What is your opinion?

Wrong.

The Superhero

While watching James Gunn’s new film “Super” the other day, I found myself wondering why I have such an affinity for the idea of the superhero. What actually separates a superhero from the regular hero? Is it a flamboyant costume? Is it superpowers? Is it simply fighting crime? What makes Batman a superhero, but not Robin Hood? What makes The Green Hornet a superhero when compared with a god-like being such as Superman? After a lot of careful thought on the subject, I came to the conclusion that the term “superhero” is merely a word used to sell comic books. The very idea of being a hero in the traditional “action movie” sense is super. The hero risks his life to do what is right. That is a special thing to do. It isn’t very common. You don’t hear about it every day. I suppose this valiant behavior is why the superhero appeals to most of us. He or she is what we wish we could be if we had the kind of dedication to do what is right a hundred percent of the time. This is also why non-powered superheroes tend to be my favorites, like Batman or Rorschach (for those of you who have read Watchmen). That kind of hero is the most special to me because unlike Superman, any time a gun goes off that could be it. All of the work and preparation gone with a simple finger movement that anyone can do. One of my favorite films of the last year was Kick-Ass for this exact reason. The idea of a regular person standing up for what is right appeals to my inner idealist who amazingly enough, still exists somewhere inside me. I look forward to the day when technology catches up and some crazy comic-reading bastard gets up the gumption to try it.

Who is your favorite Neo Bickle?

My favorite Neo Bickle is the one in your heart.