By W.T. Wimpy Hiroto


There once was a time when driving a worn (borrowed) Chevy in and around the exclusive environs of Holmby and Beverly Hills late at night, I would immediately attract the attention of a patrol car. It would follow me out of their precious district as if I were polluting their jurisdiction by my mere crew cut presence. (The car did leak oil when parked, undeniable evidence of my presence.) An SC guy trying to woo a “house girl” (live-in UCLA student) in that era and neighborhood had more than the usual obstacles to hurdle.

Now segue to Monday morn­ing, East Los Angeles resident, a half century later. I have a doctor’s appointment in Beverly Hills, CA 90212 [rather than 90210.]Don’t ask why but the usual Docker’s and sneakers are set aside in favor of slacks, sport coat and black dress shoes. Not to forget fresh underwear. Maybe it’s sheer coincidence that I just had the car washed. I leave the house at 8:48 a.m. for a 10 o’clock appointment, knowing there might be traffic, my history of having a non-GPS mind-set and the certainty of numerous forms to fill out being a first-time patient. Going to the Westside is like being a boy scout. Be prepared.

Perfect timing all the way around what with the traffic foibles on Santa Monica Freeway and a crowded SaMo off the 405. When surprised with a second timed stub for valet parking I didn’t request, it was welcome to Beverly Hills Spine Group. [And various facial treatments if I choose to wander down the hall.]

Herein I would should note that the waiting room for Suite 400 was no more impressive than any office found in Li’l Tokyo. The same sign-in process, a jar of hard candy (which I always partake of as a matter of sweet tooth principle) and a sheaf of papers to fill out and sign. [Staff is so on the ball they retrieve pages as I complete them in order to speed up the process. Impressive.]

Must admit I felt neat but over-dressed. Ladies were in simple blouses and men in T-shirts. They sure didn’t look like Joan Collins or Jerry Lewis but none were exactly spry either. Canes and slooow movement were in vogue. And should I add obesity was prevalent?

For a guy with a bad back history I wasn’t armed with past x-rays or med records. The doctor who performed my surgery 10 years ago is no longer in practice and I didn’t have access to hospital files. So there was a need for fresh pictures of lower lumbar 3-4-5 and attached titanium bars that thankfully never triggered alarms going through airport security.

The ensuing interview session, reading of x-rays and a varied series of body movements makes Dr. J.R. fairly certain my current woes are being caused by a condition between L5 and S1; first treatment being a shot to a specific spot that looks like the culprit. I would have to make another appointment with another M.D. for the necessary injection. Even though that office was one floor removed from where I was, I would still have to call to make an appointment. At least they validated the parking ticket. When you’re dealing with an office visit that undoubtedly will involve more than two zeros, I reckon that should be an expected perk. But, alas, not the valet surcharge.

I’m home now, none the worse from the long tedious drive and checkup that just might result in surcease without surgery. To waylay the current discomfort, I was given two ointments that “should” temporarily alleviate the pain until I get stabbed. [Ouch! I am positive it will hurt!]

I’m instructed the green salve is for thrice daytime applications to pained areas and the other to be applied once before going to bed. I applied the first cream as soon as I got home. It didn’t do any good and it smells and burns. I will apply a second coating before the sun goes down. Without much faith. The night-time salve (ketogabalido) is orange in color and since it too is for external use only, I am less than optimistic it will lessen the pain. But the power of positive thinking. If it miraculously is effective, that will mean no needle! [FYI: My dislike of a long pointed metal intrusion is topped only by my abhorrence of (eatable) liver.]

What does catch my attention is the small print notation on the p.m. application that says it “may cause drowsiness.” Anything that enhances a nocturnal knockout is welcome, more than somewhat, to this sleepless cretin! Even if it does stink and burn, I plan to double the orange goo and gamble that it won’t turn me into a eunuch.

Chalk up this week’s offering as your extra serving of Thanksgiving cheer on my behalf. Reading a blow-by-blow report of CR2S’s latest medical misadventure might not be as entertaining as a Tiger Woods escapade, but be assured I certainly appreciate the many e-mails of concern, sympathy and possible cures. Such a compassionate readership deserves plaudits and recognition.

Meanwhile I await a telephone call to confirm my next destination. It’s not as momentous as forestalling Iran’s proposed nuclear plants but it’s just as humongous to a certain coward I empathize with!


W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.


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