If We’re Created in God’s Image, Why Does God Have an Appendix?

If you’ve never had any of your internal organs removed, count yourself lucky. It was Thursday evening and I’d just finished the written portion of this motorcycle license course I was taking in preparation for possibly getting a little Stella to ride around Pittsburgh for the summer. While waiting for the course to begin, I’d gone to this pizza buffet place, where every slice was of some type of meat variety, except of course for the Oreo cookie style breadstick slices. I just went for a salad and while eating the mushrooms thought to myself, what are the odds that they even clean these things? The night went on, the course proceeded, good times.

Friday came and went, and I was getting ready to go to bed early as the driving portion of the test began all the way across the city at 7am the next morning, when my stomach began to throb with pain. Throb at first, but before I could even get to sleep, a matter of maybe 30 minutes, it was piercing, squealing, bloated pain pushing from just below my belly button down to the core of my groin. I spent the entire night puking, constipated, dashing from bed to sink to toilet, and triumvirate of piss and spit and vomit all culminated by the volcano exploding in my gut. My stomach had half-agained itself in size, so that it now looked like a deflated, wet balloon. I didn’t get more than 10 minutes worth of sleep at a pop, and the pain wouldn’t stop even for a moment. Oddly enough, only the vomiting would relieve the pain, presumably because that special sharp burning sensation any frat boy can tell you of only too well was taking precedence for those several special seconds. I presumed food poisoning, and my lovely wife agreed, doing everything she could to help me get over it.

Saturday morning came, I missed my class, and the day went on quite similarly to the previous night, albeit with much less pain somehow. But low and behold, with the midnight hour came another intense round of gizzard gremlins hacksawing away at my innards. I made the call, Yellow Cab that is, and had the metalhead in the big yellow car deliver me to St. David’s Hospital Emergency Room. And a big call it was, my friend, for I am one of those proud Americans lucky enough to be without health insurance. As a freelancer, the cost of paying for it on my own is ridiculous. As a young and healthy man, the need has never been there.

Emergency rooms are like stories from the elderly, they take way too long and make absolutely no sense as to how they’re operated. There’s none of the TV drama of people being rushed in yelling “stat” and “50CC megadopaline” and “but dammit, Jenny, I do love you!” No, it’s really just incredibly uncomfortable chairs, long ass waits and not a single magazine in the place. Luckily though, we were treated to the good Governor Schwarzenegger film Eraser. That’s a real winner, there. If you’ve never seen the movie, let’s just say that at one point a parachuting Arnie fights a jumbo jet and manages to send the thing flaming down to it’s death. Real classy, like a guy who lives in a Governor’s mansion should do.

Eventually I do get into see a doctor, they give me a CT scan, pump me full of some type of glow in the dark goo, and start sticking IVs all into me. This is going to be expensive, I presume. But ask anyone how expensive, and they can’t tell you. “We won’t know until you’re discharged,” is literally the response I was given when I’d asked. No wonder our health care system is so fucking expensive. Imagine walking into a McDonald’s and ordering a cheeseburger and fries and then asking how much you owe. “Well, we’ll let you know when you’re done eating it.” Or buying a car on financing and every month they randomly tell you to make a different payment. But when the doctor comes back and tells you that one of your organs — the appendix in this case — is about to blow and you need to have it removed or death by internal gangrene will be your fate within days, what’re you gonna do?

And you don’t want to start getting pissy with the details of the bill with the people who are going to knock you out and start stabbing you in a few hours.

A few hours would have been great, though. From the time I was diagnosed, it took about 12 hours for them to actually perform the surgery. They hopped me all up on morphine and vicodine, which helped greatly but not completely to relieve the enormous pain, and I sat around watching bad movies on TNT in an incredibly plain suite which most definitely costs more per night than the four seasons, even though you have to bang on the remote to get it to change the channels and the room service is primarily there to stab you with needles and supply you with pain killers.

Then it was time. Count back from 100 and the next thing I know the surgery is over. I’ve got three tiny cuts, one on each side of my gut and one in my belly button. My poor belly button, so much for my career as a naval piercing model. That was a fool’s dream anyway, and at least now my Great Aunt Sue can rest in her grave.

And that’s how a weekend of intense pain would be followed by a couple of days in a hospital bed, drinking prune juice and eating hospital food which is going to turn the slightly glib tone of this writing like their food turned my stomach. Everyone knows the cliche about hospital food, in that it is ass-licking awful. Taste is one thing, these big budget hospitals have to keep their modern art up to date and so throwing in a little butter or salt would really break the bank, no that’s not what I’m referring to. This food was not food, it was fast food. I ordered a portabello sandwich with avo and tomato on a wheat bun. The thing tasted exactly, exactly, like a McDonald’s cheeseburger. That means it was soaked in partially hydrogenated soybean oil and stuffed full of fake. I also got a cranberry juice, good for the ol’ wee stream. Ingredients: water, cranberry juice, high fructose corn syrup. Who the hell do these people think they are and how do we live in a world where we allow our hospital food to be made of the very shit that is making us all such obese, unhealthy people in the first place? While just about everything during the whole experience I can now look back on in jest, even the bits that are still to come, this is one thing that is a true disgrace and needs to be changed ASAP.

Finally it was here: moving day! I get to leave the hospital, having been given permission by the doctor (hospitals are very prison-like in the fact that you need someone to “let you go”). I go to checkout desk and wait in horror for my bill. I knew it would begin with 5. I think all procedures either cost $50, $500, $5000, or $50,000. As to clarify what she certainly already knew, as I’d been asked a dozen times before, “So, you don’t have any insurance?” was the question presented me.

“Right on,” I proclaimed, proud of my denial of your little scam, oh American Health Care Shitstom. “So how much is it?” Now you’re going to love this, and I’ll try to be as verbatim as possible:

“Your bill is $17,860. We can put you on a payment plan which gives you a 49% discount which puts your bill at $9249, which the longest we can extend that for is 36 months.”

So I’ll be paying around $260 / month for the next three years. And the product I get? The removal of a piece of my body which serves no humanly purpose in the first place! That’s God and capitalism at their finest.

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