Monday, November 23, 2015

A Buggs Strife Pt.2 (Paar for the Worse)

“I guessed that he was one of those ambitious young physicians who more and more fill the profession, opportunists with a fashionable hoodlum image, openly hostile to their patients. My
brief stay at the hospital had already convinced me that the medical profession was an open door to anyone nursing a grudge against the human race.”
– J.G Ballard, from “Crash

Hello Blogiteers!

Truer words in my humble opinion, have never been spoken.

As someone who’s become overly familiar with what passes for modern medicine in this country, I can totally relate to the sentiment expressed above. Humanity as a whole, is regarded as nothing more than a superfluous cash cow by an increasingly desensitized and vastly unethical cabal that takes advantage by exploiting the inherent helplessness of its chosen victims.

Granted, that’s a rather harsh assessment in regards to certain members of the hypocritical Hippocratic Oath association, but my long-held conviction that the Rod of Aesculapius* and its corresponding pledge are as relevant to the medical profession today as Vanilla Ice is to Hip-Hop, has finally been verified.

*[In Greek mythology, the Rod of Asclepius, also known as the Staff of Asclepius (sometimes also spelled Asklepios or Aesculapius) and as the asklepian, is a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine. The symbol has continued to be used in modern times, where it is associated with medicine and health care.]

Greed and blatant narcissism are the true impetus empowering most doctors these days, and we as a society seem to be utterly helpless in halting this slithering abuse of our trust.

The more I deal with certain aspects of our remedial health care system, I begin to understand why the symbol of doctors is a serpent wrapped around a staff- if the venom doesn’t kill you, they can always use the wooden pole to beat you into submission as they attempt to steal your wallet.

The upside, if there is one to be found, is that the majority of these callous clinicians are generally so slimy, one could cause grievous harm armed with nothing more innocuous then a shaker of salt. 

As one of the rare few who has successfully separated one of these snake-handlers from their ill-gotten gains, I can attest that it wasn’t easy- the medical malingerers tend to guard their tainted bullion with a ferocity that makes Smaug look like Tickle Me Elmo by way of comparison.

Sadly, doing the right thing unbidden by the simple act of accepting personal responsibility for professional mistakes, is as alien a concept to the modern doctor as delivering a coherent speech is to Sarah Palin. Look, I get it- we live in a decidedly litigious society, where nobly admitting guilt will get you sued more often than not, but as a rule, most people are just as good with a sincere show of remorse as they would be with a settlement check.

If not more so, as it’s just seemingly that rare.

Shockingly, despite my reputation for applying a scorched earth policy in regards to the balancing of my personal scales, I do occasionally endure honest attempts at rehabilitating shattered trust. Note that I stated “occasionally”- I don’t have many rules, but the two biggest are these: don’t lie to me, and don’t ever betray my confidence. While that may sound like one rule cleft in twain, it and they aren’t- they’re distinctive and non-negotiable.

Unless the situation is my fault entire, I rarely forgive, and I never forget. I don’t hold grudges so much as I raise them as if they were my own sons, and by no means have I ever let the truly culpable skirt fated reprisal when it was truly applicable. Think of me as the snarky embodiment of Karma, but with a far less tolerant outlook.

Credible apologies, as I’ve noted previously, are presented as such: I’m. Sorry. Period.

No qualifiers, no “in my defense” rationalizations, nothing other than the two words above and that adorably quaint and right-to-the point punctuation mark. A cynic might feel the need to opine that I’m making a Himalayan range out of a molehill due to my inherent (and well-earned) distrust of all things medical, but in this particular case, I’m being uncharacteristically diplomatic.

Yes yes… I used a word you would never associate with me. But at the moment, it’s actually apt. As if being afflicted with diabetes wasn’t challenging enough, I find myself locked in a battle royale with an opponent who for all intents and purposes, may not even be aware that we’re actually fighting.

Granted, their sphere of ignorance will fail to serve as shelter from the oncoming storm that swiftly advances towards them, but as usual- I’m getting ahead of the narrative, which is a habit I think I really need to work on, if the fan email serves as an accurate barometer.

For clarity and legalities, I need to stress that this sequence of events is from my perspective- that being said, it’s also a sad indictment of what a lone and allegedly vindictive individual can do when given power over a person they perceive to be defenseless.

Roll out that sphere of ignorance again kids, because it’s about to have its warranty severely tested.

As I stated in my last tale, wherein I served up a tasty, yet economical, hors d'oeuvre of shredded Bugg ala’ mode, I find myself facing yet another adversary, that being an [allegedly] unethical practitioner of medicine who inflicts her chosen profession upon an unsuspecting world.

Their name? Dr. Gypsy Faith Paar. Yes, I said Gypsy Faith. Now, I know what you’re thinking: the big  bad Artbitch is going to heartlessly lob a few humor grenades through her office window in regards to her name, and all I can possibly say in my limited defense is this… ouch. How could you possibly assume that?

That’s just downright cold. After all these years of friendship, it’s like you still don’t know me at all. Sure, I might have taken a shot at her in my last screed, by acidly noting:

“she’s named “Gypsy” and yet looks as if she should come with a best friend named Skipper, a pink Corvette, and a Dream-house play-set.”, but I swear on the purity of an eventual Ding-Dong three-way with Debbie Harry and Milla Jovovich that I wasn’t taking a cheap shot at her name, far from it.

My first name is Wayne, after all, and when one has that odious moniker hanging around their neck like a depleted uranium millstone, it leaves minimal room to mock.

Don’t believe me?
Well then, let’s do a little “play along at home” experiment, shall we?

Just take a minute, and think of everything my name rhymes with, and you’ll see why I generally try not to poke fun at those highly disadvantaged people who were apparently named while their yurt-living, hemp-wearing, rainbow-riding, micro-bus driving parents were still working their way down from an ill-advised experiment of taking the whole tab at once.

In fact, I have a great deal of empathy for the period in which she was attempting to get into medical school, I really do. It couldn’t have been easy applying for student loans when your birth certificate is scribbled on the back of a Grateful Dead show flyer, and your witnessing doctor was known as Autumn Sky Unicorn*.
[*AKA: The former Ms. Rhonda Stella Schwartzman of Paramus, New Jersey.]

With all kidding aside, I’ll be taking the high road, despite my crafting some awesome zingers about her singing backup for Phish, when she isn’t spinning fire at the Ren Fair, that is. And you still believe that I have no compassion? Seriously, I have no idea where you tend to get these crazy assumptions.

Moving on…

I first discovered Dr. Paar via her current employer [Paradise Family Medicine], where a friend’s healthcare was being tended to by one of the co-owners of the practice. At that time however, the well-regarded physician they had recommended to me was booked solidly for the next two months, much to my chagrin.

Having been tossed under the bus by my previous doctor in regards to my pain protocol, I was placed in a rather untenable position- either I waited for the doctor my friend raved about, all the while in extreme pain, or go with the desk staffs’ suggestion of visiting Dr. Paar, which, while not the ideal choice, was still a wise decision nonetheless, or so I erroneously believed at the time.

That’s the unexpected side-effect of extreme pain- it really doesn’t leave you much time to slow down and smell the poseurs, if you know what I mean. It does, however, dull your intellectual abilities to the point where one’s metaphorical machete is blunted into a play-set butter-knife.

When I first employed the services of Mrs. Paar* [*I’ll reserve the title “Doctor” for those who actually deserve the accolade from this point on] it seemed like it was going to be smooth sailing, no rocks ahead.

She turned me on to a med-lab that I could easily afford [] re-established the pain protocols that my two previous doctors either ignored or discounted, and seemed genuinely interested in helping me get my health back on track. 

Whoopie. Whoo-hoo. Yay team. Raise the roof. However?

I’ve constantly reiterated that my sense of optimism hasn’t been pulling it’s weight recently, and that as of late, my gut instincts seem to be on an eternal four day weekend, despite my sending out a tersely worded email that they were needed back in the office several weeks ago.

But I’d guess this is what happens after you outsource those jobs to a Lithuanian day-care center, if truth be told. Sigh... and my profit margin was looking to be huge this quarter,

My first two visits were routine and relatively uneventful, despite a strong push to visit specialists that she had been informed were out of financial reach, due to my lack of health insurance. On a related note for any future doctors, your response to such information should NOT be the blithely stated: “well, it has to happen”, unless you’re also about to give your patient a winning lotto ticket in lieu of a bill. Just saying.

The average time between visits was about three months or so, during which period I was struggling to maintain a strict testing and dosing protocol, due to my now former employer’s inconsistent interference in allowing me to do so.

Not an excuse mind you, just some vital back-story for what is to follow. By my third visit however, things had taken a solemn turn towards the grave- both metaphorically and literally, as evidenced by Mrs. Paar’s opening gambit of attempting to recues herself as my doctor.

Woof- honestly, I did not see that one coming.

She goes on to opine that she feels her care is ineffective, confessing a deep-set fear that she may “wind up killing” me. Nevertheless, the best (or worst) was yet to come, as she explained why that was, stating that my last blood numbers were really “bad” and indicated the strong possibility of ongoing liver disease as well as my kidneys ultimately shutting down.

Double woof, times woofinitity.

Nonetheless, this news, despite its serious tonality, still presented as a no surprise/surprise kind of package deal. My liver has always been wonky- one of my former gastroenterologists used to refer to me as “The Martian”, referencing an actual alien from Mars, not the Matt Damon character needing rescue.

On a related note, I think this country has spent more than enough of its money trying to “save” Matt Damon.
Next time, I suggest we let Ben Affleck do the rescuing- after all, he needs him way more than we do.

Getting back on track, the kidney diagnosis was a shock, but overall, I wasn’t too worried- that’s what tests are for, to catch stuff before it gets worse…idyllically. We also discussed my then-current job, and how it’s stresses were slowly grinding me down, which led to the unspoken, yet obvious, need for me to do something drastic in regards to how I was managing the earning of my living.

However, the foremost thing I needed to do at that time, was to get Mrs. Paar off her allegorical ledge and back inside the building where happy teddy-bears and piping hot cocoa awaited. This I managed to do… or so I thought- damn useless gut instinct.

I’m telling you, if I manage to live through this, it better start sending out resumes, and that right quick, because its ass is fired when I get back to the office. Regardless, and despite her willingness to throw in the towel when things seemingly got rough, that unsettling encounter did kick-off a minor series of positive events, I am happy to admit.

First on the to-do list was launching the much-needed dental work, [noted in the last blog] followed by the aforementioned tightening of my Diabetic protocol belt, and lastly, the elephant leech in the room: my job. As much as I wanted to leave, it’s hard to do so when you’ve invested eight and ½ years of your life into something, even it’s for the best- which this most arguably was.

That’s the thing about taking a risk- it’s just so darn risky. Nevertheless, I did find a better job within my industry (art framing) leading to a significant increase in my take-home pay, zero superfluous drama, and unlike my last place of work- access to some really awesomely sexy tech.

Milla Jovovich-level sexy tech is what I’m talking about here, via the form of an Italian manufactured computerized mat cutter. I’d unwrap a Ding Dong at the sheer thought of it, but I’m cutting back, you know. Given all these constructive changes in such a short time period, it was with an upbeat frame of mind as I entered my appointment, lab paperwork firmly in hand.

In retrospect, I should have walked in clutching a NERF bat and my lawyer’s arm, for the rationale of possession was towards a singular purpose- that is, to metaphorically and literally dope-smack Mrs. Paar upside her unprofessionally smug head.

Keep this in mind as we go down the rabbit hole- I wasn’t expecting my numbers to be vastly different- after all, it had only been a short period since my last blood test, and changes within the diabetic landscape do take some time to manifest. Months, in some cases. What I was hoping to see was a slight uptick as confirmation that all the hard work of the last three months was paying off.

[See: “Sense of Optimism”. See: “Lithuanian Day-Care Center outsourcing”. See: “Idiot”.]

The treatment I received in regards to Mrs. Paar’s implied bedside manner makes being the guest of honor at a wedding hosted by Lord Walder Frey* seem almost warm and fuzzy by contrast. Sure, that may have ended on a bad note too, but at least there was cake. Heck, I’d listen to Ken Ham talking about Jesus riding a Brontosaur for hours if there was just the possibility of cake, so what happened, exactly? *[]

Let me start by reminding you of that age-old threat of exasperated mothers everywhere: “If you don’t behave, I’ll sell you to the Gypsies”. As with most things from our collective past, an evolution of sorts is required for it to work in today’s society, and all it would need is this simple tweak: “If you don’t behave, I’ll make Gypsy your primary care physician.”

If there is true justice in this world, many years from now, Stephen King will use that as the basis of a book, Tim Burton for a movie, and TLC for its newest reality show. Disney of course, would set it to music, and put it on ice. I can just imagine the toys. They’d be epic. The doctor character could be both heartless and spineless, akin to a glittery Stretch Armstrong, but with much better hair.

[Hands sculpted from butter sold separately. Back to the narrative!]

So there I was, sitting in a tiny beige room, waiting to impart, and hopefully hear, some cheery news. I did mention my outsourced sense of optimism, right? Good. Because I’m about to show why it’s imperative to buy American-made whenever you can.

As Mrs. Paar walks in, I attempt to tell her of all the beneficial changes I’ve made, this right after I inform her of the need to refill my essential Lyrica and Oxycontin prescriptions, but am abruptly cut off via a condescendingly frozen smile backed by an almost mirthful giggle:

“I’m giving you notice that I’m recusing myself as your doctor. Looking at your numbers, [this said while she scans the lab report] which are all bad, I can see that your liver and kidney disease is advancing- all I can think of is that this guy is dying right before my eyes, and I will NOT have that on my conscience. Here are your labs [as she folds them up and hands them to me] your next doctor will need them.”

Stunned, I stammer that I can’t afford specialists, and query as to what the hell I should do, and she responds casually: “I don’t know… medical insurance really isn’t my forte- but don’t worry, I’ll give you a thirty-day supply of your meds, and today’s visit will be discounted.”

She then walks out… and never comes back.
Nor does anyone else, for almost fifteen minutes.

To articulate that I completely fell apart would be analogous to declaring that the Twin Towers suffered some minor structural damage after a small airplane-related mishap. I lost total cohesion and became utterly unglued to the point of hysteria. I called Ashley, awash in sheer terror, and while I don’t recall much (if any) of that particular conversation, I do know it lasted until Mrs. Paar’s nurse strode in and handed me an envelope.

Inside was a form letter outlining Mrs. Paar’s recusal as my primary care doctor, my two essential prescriptions, and that was it- no physician referral, no protocol, and no opinion as to what my next move should be. Questioning her noticeably apathetic nurse led to no further clarification, and was bookmarked by an indifferent shoulder shrug, and a mumbled “I don’t know what to tell you”, while staring at the floor.

No context. No counsel. No concern. No f**ks given.

But if I were forced to play devils advocate and look at the overall situation optimistically, I still did have that discount to look forward to, so cry huzzah, and let slip the twerking Unicorns of Joy. And to this day, some people still wonder why I have so many trust issues where medical “professionals” are concerned?

It’s not just the story of my parents swearing that they were going to the mall to buy me a puppy made out of ice cream 42 years ago, some of it is based on actual experience. And they’ll be back just like they promised. Soon. Any day now. It’s a really big mall, they probably got lost.

Especially when you remember it was torn down 25 years ago.  
Moving on…

So, still emotionally overwrought, I’m shepherded towards the receptionist desk so that I can compensate Mrs. Paar for that exhausting six minutes she just worked, and that’s where I balk- I tell the receptionist that there will be no way in Hell that I will be paying for what I just went through, and sensing my distress, she becomes the only one in that entire office to show any professionalism that day.

Actually, come to think of it- the only one since that day as well, but guess which one gets the biggest check for doing the least amount of work, using the slightest amount of Humanity they can skate by with? If you said the backup singer for Phish, you’d be dead wrong, because I already said I wasn’t going to use that joke.

Seriously. Grow up.

However, if you instead said: “Dr. Paar”, you’d be half right, because actual doctors are supposed to help people, not metaphorically sacrifice them to Asclepius’s inbred uncle Incompetentcius just because the sky got dark outside.

She then spends the next 20 minutes or so talking me back to center, and goes so far as to contact the office manager in regards to my situation- end result: I didn’t pay a dime, and I managed to get home without wrapping my car around a family of four. Granted, that was after I spent 45 minutes sitting/chilling/coping in the parking lot, but her kind intervention was appreciated, nonetheless.

Whoa- just looked at my Twilight Limited Edition wristwatch and noticed that the glittery Vampire is half past the wickedly buff Lycanthrope, and we all know what that means- and it isn’t that I need a new timepiece... go Team Jacob.

No, what it means is that it’s late, I’m tired, and now is as good a time as any to take a short break.

And when we come back….

The sub-Paar basement adds a floor with extra pain, a metaphorical Renfield mires an office in the social media marsh, my medical file is shorted a few Post-it notes, and I defend my opinion that if correct diagnoses were quarters, a certain doctor allegedly couldn’t gather enough to do a load of laundry.

“Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained adequately by incompetence.”
- Anonymous


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Bugg's Strife Pt. 1 (Paar for the Coarse)

“Nothing's more disgusting than a guy who steals another person's ideas and tries to claim them as his own.” – Joe Rogan

Hello Blogiteers!

Things have gone seriously awry as of late, let me tell you. The great John Lennon once famously stated that “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans”, and boy- did he ever hit that nail on the proverbial head.

With Thor’s hammer, no less.

Originally, the subject of this blog was going to be my favorite go-to punching bag, a local artist whose catalogue raisonné makes the work of Jeff Koon and Damien Hirst come off as deep by way of comparison. A person that at best, is the closest Phoenix will ever get to having it’s very own artsy Kilgore Trout*.  

[*It’s a Vonnegut reference- Google it. And then go read all of his books- I highly recommend “Bluebeard”, as it’s chock-full of really artsy stuff, and the main character has the best name ever: “Rebo Karabekian”- a moniker which by the way, I have been informed by my GF Ashley, is not allowed into the baby name lottery if we ever decide to have kids... which we’re not, so don’t start picking out those play-dates anytime soon.]

For those of you who are regular readers of my humble little screeds, you probably already know who that person is, for much like the rules set forth in Highlander, there can be only one, thank Odin for small favors. I am of course, talking about an individual who on more than one occasion, has “paid homage” to somebody elses idea and claimed it his own, while simultaneously adding nothing of substance* whatsoever [*allegedly.]

No matter how you slice it, the term “homage” is artist code for “I have no original ideas of my own, but hey… that already established one over there looks nice.”

So Blogiteers, please give a warm welcome and show your love to the Master of Mimicry, the Ambassador of Appropriation, the Chancellor of Copying, the Hamburglar of Homage, SMOCA’S very own in-house Artsy Shoplifter- you know him, I loathe him, the one, the only,…

{sound of crickets… a lone tumbleweed rolls forlornly by…}

Um, loyal Blogiteers? It’s customary to clap right about now. Sigh… never mind, I’ll just dub it in.





Ooops. Sorry, I accidentally grabbed my 8-track copy of LIBERACE PLAYS LIVE. My apologies. However, this swanky album still rocks… sure, it cant touch Thompson’s Twins “A Product of (Participation)”, or even come close to the sonic awesomeness that was Sigue Sigue Sputnik, but what can, really?

Question for another time, I guess.

As I said just a moment ago, the original subject of this blog was going to be my favorite go-to punching bag, the aforementioned Mr. Bugg, due mainly to his recent career move, covered here by my favorite bestest buddy, the Phoenix New Times.


For those of you unwilling to read the slopfest that continues to constitute the “journalism” in our local Pennysaver with Porn these days, I’ll give you the high notes: basically, Peter has been hired by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art [AKA: “SMoCA”] to serve as their new curator of programming, a full-time position that will allow him ample room (if tradition holds) to refine other people’s ideas, while simultaneously dropping the ball.

Sure, I’ve bagged on both before, but when I read the following statement, I found that for a brief moment, I was almost overcome with a happily familiar and unadulterated feeling of pure rampant snarkiness, akin only to my discovering a cache of refrigerated Ding Dongs safely tucked away inside my sock drawer- not that such a thing has ever happened, mind you, I’m just speaking metaphorically.

And optimistically. Oh, sooo optimistically.
From the NT article:

“We are very pleased to begin working with Peter," Sara Cochran, SMoCA interim director and curator, says in the announcement. "His knowledge of contemporary art, experience in museums and with docents as well as his concepts for new and innovative programming really set him apart in the interview process.

He presented an impressive number of original and exciting ideas for connecting with SMoCA’s loyal audience and reaching out to build new audiences who may not yet know that they need contemporary art in their lives.

We are anxious and thrilled to expand our efforts in this area under Peter’s direction.”

If I were to be brutally honest, over-inflated statements like this, bursting with a preponderance of sycophantic narcissism, typically inspires me to spend an entire day writing, chuckling to myself as I craft yet another literary Lemarchand's box*

[*Lemarchand's box is a fictional puzzle box or lock puzzle appearing in stories by author Clive Barker, or in works based on his original stories. The best known of these boxes is the Lament Configuration, which features prominently throughout the Hellraiser movie series. You’re welcome.]

As per usual, I took to my ASUS laptop to get my initial thoughts down on the pixilated page, and almost as soon as I did, my screen flashed, turned three different shades of enhanced grey, and went black. If I were a superstitious man, I’d almost believe that the Writing Gods were trying to tell me something- a celestial sign, as it were.  

(And just in case anyone’s curious, there are only three Gods of Writing: Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter S. Thompson, and that bad ass motherf***er who wrote “Good-night Moon”.)

After a few days of almost near-frenzied panic, it turned out that my motherboard was defective, which when all is said and done, will not have cost much more than a few days and some stinging (but not horrendous) pocket change when I eventually get it back from the repair facility.

Fortunately, I had saved my draft to a thumb drive, and in an even better stroke of luck, I still had my 13 year-old IBM Thinkpad mothballed away in storage, on which this blog is at present is being produced. Running XP, no less.

Seriously. This thing is a tank, I kid you not. It’s Wolverine with a hard drive. However, after I started editing my draft, there was unquestionably something tangible missing, and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t perceive what it was.

Let’s see…. snark? Check. Colorful language? Check. An “Arcade Fire” reference? Check. Insults involving skinny jeans and the intellectually skinnier ass that wears them? Check. A quote from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment that reads:

“He was one of the numerous and varied legion of dullards, of half-animated abortions, conceited, half-educated coxcombs, who attach themselves to the idea most in fashion only to vulgarize it and who caricature every cause they serve, however sincerely.”

Most definitely check. Oh wait- he’s a Russian author, so that should actually say “проверить”. Most definitely проверить.

An actual point? Surprisingly, check.
Continued interest in finishing it? ……….. not so much.

As you might imagine, I spent some time wondering why this was, and the conclusion I eventually arrived at was this: I think I’m just sick and tired of constantly rehashing the acts of certain lauded idiots as they quicken their pace toward an inevitable destiny with insignificance.

In the end, what would truly be accomplished by my notations?

Despite Bugg’s troubling history of well-known and obvious plagiarism, he’s still considered to be a valuable asset- granted, it’s at an institution that also considers pyramids of stacked fruit to be art, so take it as you may, but he’s still held in high regard, nonetheless.

And its not just pathetic- it’s farcically pathetic.

So much so that writing about it would just seemingly add further inanity to an already preposterous situation. SMoCA has already shown it’s lack of ethics, which I’ve noted in previous scrawlings, now it’s lack of common sense in their hiring practices has come home to roost as well, and I for one, applaud their commitment to complete absurdity.

After all, it’s not everyday you get to watch an already troubled institution gleefully commit suicide, via an ironically dada-esque approach, and it’s even rarer that I would merrily sit back and watch without commentary, but in regards to my lack of remarks, it does make sense, nevertheless.

To quote the NT article: “In May 2015, museum director Tim Rodgers resigned following rumors that the Scottsdale Cultural Council, a nonprofit organization that oversees SMoCA, Scottsdale Public Art, and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, was looking to eliminate the directorship positions at each of the institutions.

These rumors of course, have been denied by Cultural Council CEO Neale Pearl.

Cochran, who had been working as the museum's associate director since February 2014, stepped in as interim director, and no plans to hire a permanent replacement for Rodgers have been announced as of yet.”

Given the (at this time) cautious direction set against a turbulent sea of administrative changes, how would my pointedly harsh comments affect the outcome one way or the other? In a nutshell, that answer would be a resolute “not in the least”, so for once-  I’m sitting this one out.

That’s right- the claws are going back into their zebra-print lined carrying case, and this here Artbitch is gonna kick back and watch the inevitable clusterf**k / Phantom Menace / train wreck from a safe and comfortable distance. There’s nothing that makes a professional snark happier than their vision proven correct, and I think my odds for being so are pretty high, considering how all the factors are lining up.

But given the crueler aspect of Fate, my odds for being miserably wrong could be astronomically high as well, so there’s that. And I couldn’t be more excited, in fact. See, I actually really enjoy it when I’m dead wrong, because it means that things aren’t as bad as I thought they were.

That’s the inherent beauty of being a cynic- you’re either always being proven right, or being happily surprised.

Putting it bluntly, I think I’m going to be proven right in the long run, but I’m a gambling man, so let the dice roll, and we’ll see who lands on black.  But I will ask SMoCA one metaphorical question as I leave the situation to unfurl itself as it will, and it is this:

What exactly does a guy with a penchant for alleged intellectual theft and lazy-ass presentation bring to the table exactly? The ability to cement SMoCa’s rep as a prime example of what art isn’t?

I for one, cannot wait to see what will be foisted upon the unsuspecting public by the guy who brought us sugar-encased magazine covers, culturally vapid day of the dead prayer banners using other artists unaccredited photos, along with a series of “borrowed” internet pictures of celebrity vaginas glued to paper plates.

If I were still a child, this contemplation would rank right up there with Christmas.

Oh, who am I kidding? It still does.

But I do want to be helpful, so here’s some wholly original, completely fresh, artistic ideas that Peter can pay “homage” to:

Dogs playing cards. Soup can paintings. Multi-colored silk-screen portraits. Drip paintings. Portraits of big-eyed children. A picture of a cat dangling from a branch with the phrase “Hang in there Baby”. Clown paintings {everybody loves clowns! After all, SMoCA hired one* *allegedly} Black Velvet paintings of Matadors. Smiley faces. The Mona Lisa as a Punk. Barbarian Warrior Queens holding Swords. Anything with a Disney logo…

I'm begging you, Peter- take out Walt’s Kingdom of Treacle before they make the “Frozen” TV Series. That abomination needs a lit tiki torch shoved right through its blue icy heart, Van-Helsing style, and with your gift of sucking the creativity out of anything you touch, our collective nightmare could end once and for all.

And relax… you don’t have to thank me. Even if you used my ideas, we all know that you’d just claim them as yours anyway, so let’s just cut out the middleman and move on, shall we?

2000 words exactly to let you all know that I wasn’t going to say anything- that kids, is how you pad an essay, the thesaurus be damned. Heck, I use 300 words just to say “hello”, so you can just imagine how refreshing this is to let my fingers run amuck after some well-deserved time off.

Amuck, amuck, amuck.

But despite that brief foray regarding an entertaining, if not outright absurd cultural benchmark, the real reason why I’m writing after a several month hiatus is due to an unforeseen, yet oddly familiar, problem presenting it’s obscenely grasping palm yet again. For the third time in less than a year, I find myself in the mire of the medical backwoods looking for a competent doctor once more.

Sigh… compared to this unending aggravation, going to Peter Bugg’s house to view photos of his most recent vacation would be a joy- due mainly to the fact that they probably would’ve been shot by somebody el…  NO!!! I AM NOT DOING THIS.

As delightful as it would be to take one last swipe at the Regent of Replication, I’m gonna stick to my guns. Besides… by the time he inevitably death-spirals into the giant fruit pyramid, I’ll have had plenty of time to write up a whole new slew of jokes and compliments that come with knuckles.

And if he doesn’t, there’s still always his “art” to make fun of. Ahh… long-term planning can be fun.

Moving on...

To be honest, I really thought that after my last two blogs [see the archive] regarding an unfortunate series of experiences with two less-than-useless doctors, I truly felt that I had at last achieved traction in the battle against my Type 1 Diabetes, bolstered by the following:

I’ve had a massive amount of dental work done over the last four months, removing several areas of necrotic tissue that were definitely compromising my ability to stay healthy, This is a huge problem for most Diabetics, something I was ashamedly unaware of. Three root canals, four cavities, and two post and caps, all leading up to an embarrassment of even more procedures in the near future.

[PS: My Dentist, Dr, Randy Smith, (602-996-3993 for your information) absolutely ROCKS. Call him for your dental needs and feel perfectly free to drop my name. Plus, he has the best magazine selection I’ve ever seen- it’s almost orgasmic, and that’s not a word I put out there often, if at all.]

I’ve also severely tightened up my blood testing and insulin protocols, have pretty much (finally) managed to cut soda out of my diet, and have even exorcised certain trigger foods to the seventh ring of the foodie Gulag, and yes… that does mean that Ding Dongs are now the Holy Grail of Snacks, versus their previous status as the communion wafer of snacks. Sigh….

But even all that pales into comparison in regards to the biggest lifestyle change I’ve made, and that is this: after 8 ½ years, I walked into work one day and quit my job. My awesome, creative, slowly-strangling-the-life-out-of me-by-degrees, boss-created unnecessarily high-stress job.

And while it was terrifying to do so, mainly since I had no future employment lined up at that time, I still would consider it one of the smartest things I’ve ever done, next to my dating Ashley and buying that really bitching Jack Skellington mug two weeks ago.

See, right after I finished serving up my last piece of snark ala mode, I, (on a trusted friends recommendation) started seeing a new doctor, one named (wait for it) Gypsy Faith Paar- who’s affiliated with Paradise Family Medicine, a place I’d strongly recommend that one avoid like the clam special at Long John Silver’s on a Monday.

I can’t speak for the other doctors at this particular practice, but in the case of “Dr”. Paar, I can only state my opinion that she’s a Doctor much in the same way that Dr. Pepper is- exceedingly bad for your long term health, completely overpriced, and chock-full of sugary acid.

Naturally, I’m kidding- Dr, Pepper by way of a side-by-side comparison, actually fares much better, and unlike my now former doctor, it at least doesn’t present itself to the public as something it isn’t.

In my experience, that would be competent, professional, and concerned. My first clue that she wasn’t truly genuine should have been the fact that she’s named “Gypsy” and yet looks as if she should come with a best friend named Skipper, a pink Corvette, and a Dream-house play-set.

(Sexually ambiguous “boyfriend” sold separately. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Regretfully, I need to take that analogy back, as it was very rude (if not inaccurate) of me. Barbie by all accounts, is an amazing doctor, whereas my newest ex…. well, lets just say that her middle name implies what you’ll need plenty of to believe she’ll get the job done.

Some context as usual, is necessary I see, so I’ll try to provide it per my customary gentle and kindhearted approach. But I think before we engage in any further ruminations, that a recess of sorts is required- not just to give your eyes a break, but to make sure you’re rested enough to climb the mother of all medical molehills turned Himalaya.

And trust me… it’s gonna be epic. Not grand spectacle epic, but pretty darn close.

When we return, I add yet another twit to my personal “smite” list, allegorically wrestle with the sub-Paar, meet a bureaucratic stone-walling Renfield immune to both logic and rugged charm, and discuss why being sold to a Gypsy is still preferable to being treated by a doctor named one.

“In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity..” - Hunter S. Thompson

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Paging Dr. Feelbad PT. 2 (What's Behind the Green, Kapoor?)

"I think there is a sort of box-ticking mentality. Not just in the teaching profession. You hear about it in medicine and nursing. It's a lawyer-driven insistence on meeting prescribed standards rather than just being a good doctor."
- Richard Dawkins

Greetings, Blogiteers!

What a beautiful day this is- I have a box of chilled Ding Dongs, a pitcher of ice-cold skim milk, and Big Hero 6 lined up in the ol' DVD player. Can it possibly get any better? Hells to the yes, says I.

In fact, it's been a stellar couple of weeks overall- my new doctor is kicking serious ass, the overdue re-organization and selective culling of my reference library went off without a hitch, and while cleaning my studio space top to bottom [so that's where that egg salad sandwich went...] I even managed to find an assumed lost to the ages relic from the bad old days when I used to date nothing but strippers.

I'm sorry... did I use the term "strippers"? What I meant to say was that I used to court independent contractors of adult entertainment as a means of relaxation and fostering personal growth. My bad.

[Granted, it's not the prettiest of shirts, but trust me... I earned that sucker, and it's super comfy.]

Photo Credit: Wayne Michael Reich
Model Credit: Aemelia McMorbid /

 On the art/professional side of my life, it's also been pretty darn swell too- I had a great time hanging out with graffiti legend Such Styles [ ] and his equally talented son CHAMP [ ] at the Mon Orchid Gallery Street Art show a while back,

and scratched a huge "to-do" off my artistic bucket list by finally meeting one of my creative idols, the one and only Derek Hess.[]


And as an aside, he was also nice enough to name-drop me on his website a few days later, much to my squealing eternal fan-boy delight. They always say you never want to meet your idols, because their feet may be made of clay, but in regards to Derek, that dude is speed-walking around in some seriously hardcore admantium* boots.

*[Google it. You'll be happy that you did.]

Factor in that my gig writing a monthly AOM column for PHOENIX Magazine has been a blast so far, and you can see why I'm all shades of hyper-mellow these days. Let me tell ya- in regards to my writing and it's particular POV, nothing fuels my feelings of vindication better than being paid.

Granted, it would be awesome if I could get compensated for this particular body of work, but ya gotta take the bitter with the sweet, I guess. I don't know... maybe if I created a line of Artbitch related merchandise, I could see a return on my labor of snark. Just imagine the possibilities...

T-shirts. Mousepads. Inspirational posters. Coffee mugs. Pens. Refrigerator magnets. Dinner plates. Drink coasters. Underwear with Artbitch quotes instead of the days of the week. Bobble-heads. Pajamas. Ding-Dong scented car fresheners. Fannypacks. Novelty hats. Water wings. Body glitter. Phone cases. Kazoos. Yo-yos. Board games. Construction helmets. Bike helmets. All helmets in general. Watches. Soda cozies. Whatever the name is of that weird abomination blanket with sleeves whose infomercial you watch at 2 A.M.

Wait a minute, I've got it- the ultimate product: Life size inflatable replicas of me that you could punch in the face! Seriously, how awesome would one of those be?

My detractors for one, could finally be able to do in the privacy of their mom's garage what they've been claiming would happen to me if I they ever caught me alone in a dark alley- something I find to be truly laughable, as most of these internet bad-asses strike as the type that would hang out in the woods behind a child's playground, rather than in a well-lit urban center.

And I, literally could talk to myself in those rare moments whenever I needed confirmation that my opinion was right. It'll be a huge win-win all around. But my viral marketing will have to linger on the back burner, for a tale awaits, and that right quick.

When we were last gathered around the metaphorical campfire, I was trapped in an ugly beige room at my doctor's office, putting my mad Jenga skills to the test by constructing Parisian landmarks from tongue depressors and cotton balls. Good times for sure, but it wasn't how I wanted to spend my day off, by any means.

Keeping in mind that at this point, I had already experienced a terrifying "low", was still in some truly horrendous pain, and was invested to the amount of $251.00 for office visits without having seen any positive outcome, it shouldn't come as any surprise that my nose was a wee bit out of joint in regards to my then current situation.

So to recap... pain on a molecular level. Financially strapped. Feeling extorted into taking expensive tests before ANY of my necessary meds will be released. Disinterested doctor. Bottle- blond nurse who apparently drinks the dye rather than apply it to her hair.

And there was this: during my not-worth $151.00 consultation with Dr. Kapoor, she mentioned once or twice that I should take Cymbalta, a drug used to primarily treat depression, and occasionally fibromyalgia. To be fair, I was experiencing some epic melancholy, but when you haven't slept good in months and your skin is so sensitive that even wearing a t-shirt hurts, it's not too shocking that you'd be down in the dumps about it.

However, when I'm not in soul-shredding pain, I tend to be a rather darkly upbeat if somewhat cynical kind of guy, so taking an anti-depressive medication is complete overkill, to say the very least. In other words, help me get rid of the pain, and I'll be singing as if I were competing on American Idol.

[It'd be epic... mainly because I don't think anyone's ever covered the Motorhead catalogue in the fashion it truly deserves.]

But here's the rub- Cymbalta is not only expensive, but it also has some seriously unpleasant side effects: nausea, dry mouth, constipation, diarrhea, [seems contradictory] fatigue, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Given the knowledge of what could possibly happen as a result of taking this drug, I say "screw that"- I'd rather be depressed, thank you very much.

Ding Dongs may not necessarily be the best way to treat a deep blue funk, but at least they don't back you up like rush hour in Detroit. The question I have is this- why would she suggest an additional drug [that's she's never mentioned before] when I already have one that's been working almost flawlessly for the better half of a decade?

Granted, my dosage obviously needed a tweak of sorts, but why mess with a regimen that's already proven, when the perceptible priority was to reduce my pain? You've got something that already works, stick with it, and just increase the dosage already. Keep in mind, she had a 150 mg additional "tweak zone" to work with, so it wasn't like I was maxxed out in regards to this particular drug.

And this got me thinking as to why that was. I'm not going to go as far as saying somebody's palms are getting greased by a sales rep, but it does seem odd. Just a random thought.

Now, when last we were together, I had just called Nurse Shaun's direct line and left a detailed message reminding her not to forget to fax the financial paperwork along with each filled out application, of which there were three. Overall, a directive that even a mentally-handicapped baboon should've been able to follow, am I right?

Well, let me just make a mental note that next time I need this done, to go and find said baboon, because there's no way they could have screwed it up as badly as this blonde stereotype did.

Not only did she did forget to do this for two of the most crucial medications, she then claims that she never got my message, because she's: "new here and my phone inbox is screwed up".

Believe it or not, I'm actually a realist, albeit a cynical one.

People and sometimes things, make mistakes. I DO get that, really I do. But the fun part is a comin', and it's a doozy. After this snafu of epic proportions, during which I had to redo the application process, I make a decision not to do the tests, due to the fact I couldn't afford them- a problem that Dr. Kapoor never even attempts to help me resolve.

On a related note, my new doctor was able to steer me to a program whose testing costs were 90% less than Labcorp's- a program that St. Joe's has apparently either never heard of, or can't divulge due to having a contract with Labcorp. Either way, non-insured patients like myself get screwed in the end.

Yep- that's some serious Hippocratic dedication to your client base right there, isn't it?
And don't kid yourself- we're cash cows first, patients second.

Naturally, I call Dr. Kapoor's office to tell her this, and they direct me once again to Shaun's inbox, where I leave yet another detailed message regarding my decision. Roughly twenty minutes later, Shaun returns my call and asks if the message I had just left was the previous one telling her to send the financial info, to which I say no, it wasn't.

I then ask her if she had listened to my most recent message, and she says:
"No, because I still can't get into my inbox".

No pun intended, but hold the phone. Does anyone else besides me see the truly glaring problem here? She's claiming that she can't get into her inbox, yet she knew that I, and I alone, had left her a message. This, despite the fact that I called from a "restricted" number- IE: that number doesn't show up even on lines equipped with Caller ID.

As one might expect, being the curiously playful child of the stars that I am, I just had to ask that if she was unable to access her voicemail, how in the Great and Terrible OZ was she able to ascertain that: (A) It was me calling, and... (B) that she had a message in the first place?

Grant me this small tangent- since it's initial discovery, scientists have stated time and time again that Hydrogen, due to its copious abundance, is the basic building block of the known Universe. I would strongly disagree. Stupidity is seemingly in much greater profusion than Hydrogen, and that, on the face of it, is what the Universe is apparently comprised of when studied in greater detail.

And there I was, phone in hand, speaking with it's chosen representative. Fortunately for that moments entertainment, after a somewhat lengthy, if not awkward, pause, her response to being caught red-handed in a blatant (and no longer convincing) lie was simplicity itself:

"Um... I'm new here." Seriously. That was her entire explanation, and it was sheer genius.

That phrase, "Um... I'm new here" could and should, replace the standard: "you can't blame me, I was drunk" excuse for the entire Millennial generation. No details to remember. No witnesses. And best of all, no defendable way someone could get mad at you for not knowing the ropes- after all, you're new there, right?

What kind of jerk would be mean to you just because of that? Donald Trump, for sure, but everybody else? They would just get with the program and chillax, trust me on this. The perfect alibi.

Granted, I don't think it would totally work if your wife walked in on you having a marshmallow and chocolate syrup three-way with Angeline Jolie and Milla Jovovich, but she wouldn't be able to later claim at her trial for killing you that it wasn't an original excuse, now could she?

Of course not. That would be ridiculous. Let's see... I'm almost 300 bucks in, still suffering, have no pain medication, my paperwork is screwed up beyond belief, and I'm currently dealing with a woman who by comparison, makes Sarah Palin look like Nikoli Tesla. Yep. I'm officially done with this- it's time to get out the big guns and talk to a boss/supevisor.

My initial contact in the beginning of this process, was Nicole- who while professional and bubbly, couldn't get past her script. No offense to her, as she was very nice, but I like my women to be more akin to the Groundlings and less like the Royal Shakespearean Academy. In other words, able to actually communicate without a physical libretto.

So, after some adorable back and forth, I find out that the office manager in charge of my doctor and her denser than depleted uranium nurse, is one Veena Dhillon, so I start touching base with her, bringing forth my grievances, assuming that things will soon get back on track and rolling forward.

Oh, eternally wretched optimism, when will you ever learn? Sometimes it's like watching a kitten chase a laser pointer- you really want it to capture that insolent red dot, but you know in the end, it's just wasting it's energy trying to do so, and all will end in tears. Let me give you some context.

I've often been told that I have a tendency to be fairly (and uncomfortably) direct when I'm in the midst of addressing a complaint, as I don't believe in skirting around the issue at hand, nor do I think that the application of treacle is an effective way of settling a problem either. Now, where I'm from (NYC) this is a fairly standard way of communicating- we all do it, and we do it rather well.

However, west of Texas and the closer you get to California, this method is considered somewhat intense, if not downright threatening, despite there not being one iota of threat or malice implied.

The acronym for this form of horribly misconstrued perception is BATCA, which in layman's shorthand, translates as "being a thin-skinned candy-ass". Sufferers with BATCA have feelings of persecution, inability to think outside of their scripted box, and show an almost pathological capacity for rejecting common sense in the face of obvious facts and/or evidence.

In essence, I found Ms. Dhillon to be BATCA-crazy. When she and I get to discussing my concerns, she's immediately dismissive, stating that she doesn't "appreciate" my complaining about her employees, and despite my catching Shaun in an obvious lie, doesn't "really see the need" to continue our conversation unless I adopt a "nicer" tone.

Oh for the love of Ding Dongs, was she serious?

For the record, I wasn't yelling. I wasn't using foul/vulgar language. And at no point did I suggest even remotely that her mother serviced longshoremen in between sets at the local strip club. I was firm, I was slightly sarcastic to be sure, but considering the amount of horrendous pain I was in [which had been thoroughly described at this point] it would have been ludicrous to expect me to be full of rainbows and unicorn glitter, would it have not?

But hey... I'm all about making friends, so I gave it a shot, nonetheless.

Switching my tone to that of a prizewinner from The Price is Right, I finished off my listing of her staff's incompetence and professional errors with enough sprinkles and icing to drop a diabetic at twenty yards. After I wrap it up, Veena's measured and professional response was to jump right in and get all sides of the story in order to establish a baseline for a thoughtful course of action.

Well, that's what should have happened- in a logical universe, anyway.

Instead, I am haughtily informed that the "doctor/patient relationship has been irreparably broken" because I dared to complain, and that in her [non-doctor] opinion, I should be discharged as a patient because she (once again) didn't appreciate my tone when I dared to suggest that her perfect staff was anything but.

Off tangent: you ever meet anyone who makes you think to yourself: "This person will be the reason I buy a chainsaw and rent a large wood-chipper someday."?

Obviously, reassigning me to another doctor (as I suggested) was just too crazy an idea, as was  apparently her fully investigating the validity of my criticisms in the first place. See, there I was, naively assuming that an office manager actually manages an office, versus the reality where they play a game of cover thy incompetent minions' asses.

To threaten complainants with the loss of their health care is a unique, and I might add, truly creative way to keep those negative quarterly numbers down. It's almost downright Republican, to say the very least, and if I were a normal person, it might have worked.

Fortunately for you, my loyal readers, I am as far from normal as you can get- especially when you make a situation as personal as this. Throw my pain on top of my need for justice, and you can just imagine how far I'll go in regards to acquiring personal satisfaction. If there is one thing I can modestly brag about, it's the fact that I'm exceedingly good at getting to who's really in charge of things- I don't usually deal with the cubicle monkeys, I go straight for the biggest kahuna I can find.

Once discovered, I then make their life a living Heck, while simultaneously letting them know that all could have been avoided if only the people beneath them had done their jobs with just the merest hint of professionalism and personal interest. Not too surprisingly, this has generally resulted in my getting satisfaction, while also seeing some positive changes occurring within the power structure.

The ends justifying the means, as it were.

An amusing aside: several years ago, I had a minor problem with a cel phone bill, had called one of  my then-phone company's Pakistan/Phillipine/India- based call centers, and by hook and crook, had ended up getting into a shouting match with the zombie on the other end. I finally wound up slamming down the phone, because I was getting nowhere, despite having asked for a supervisor several times, which is what had led to the argument in the first place.

Within minutes, vulgar text messages started appearing on my phone, all seemingly sent to myself from my own number. It wasn't too hard a stretch to ascertain where they were actually calling from, so I did what one would be expected to do, and called the 1-800 service number to formally lodge a complaint. Over the course of a week, the messages kept coming, and despite my dealing with everyone from the phone jockeys to the physical store, the flow was relentless.

No matter who I talked to, the buck was passed, and excuses were rampant. BTW, I loathe rampant excuses, absolutely loathe them. Even more than I hate stale PEEPS, which is a hatred that burns with the heat of a thousand suns. But getting back to the point, it morphed into a crusade for Truth, Justice and the Wayne Michael Reich way, which comes not only with Ding Dongs, but awesome cartoons as well.

After just a few more days of phone calls, I hit the mother-lode: a retiring [and fed-up] secretary to the afore-mentioned Really Big Kahuna. She not only gave me this persons direct office number, but their private cel and home numbers as well.

Which of course, I did not use, as I am an honorable man.... until the following Sunday that is, when I called them at nine o'clock at night to explain my particular situation. Shockingly, they were actually somewhat upset, but after a few awkward minutes where my lineage was questioned repeatedly, I eventually managed to convey just why it was that I was talking to them- their lesser employees had passed the buck, and here I was, humbly attempting to deposit it.

At that point, this individual became very interested in just who I had been talking to, and I cheerfully gave up all the names of the various managers that had been blowing me off for the past two weeks. Unfortunately for my newest Kahuna bestie, I couldn't for the life of me remember exactly who it was that had given me their private numbers in the first place- darn, that squidgy memory of mine.

I'm still all shades of broken up about it.

Regardless, the promise of swift and ferocious action was made, my number was grabbed, and I was informed that it "will be taken care of" ASAP. Darn, I just love a good conversation with stimulating people, don't you? Anywho... the next morning I was called by no less than three different managers, their apologies were made (one through obviously gritted teeth) and I was given a "credit" which reflected several months of my average bill.

That my loyal bitches, is how you drop the mic. BOO-YAH.
So why should this have been any different?

Well... complaining about medical related care is kind of difficult, and purposefully so. You can complain to the BBB, which isn't going to do squat, or to the Board of Medical Examiners, which reviews complaints and issues judgments. However, since it's doctors reviewing other doctors, unless you kill someone [3 seems to be the magical number where BOMEX wakes up and yanks your license] you can guess what the outcome will most likely be.

SPOILER: the patient loses, and BOMEX by law, will not/cannot tell you the course of discipline taken, or if any actually was. Isn't that helpful?

So where is a ticked off Artbitch to go when he needs to complain about what he feels is a pressing issue? In my case, that would be the one and only Saint Joeseph's Patient Relation Board, staffed by an amazingly friendly woman named Denise Bludis. To be fair, Denise also followed a script in how she dealt with me, but at least she wasn't a rudely condescending cow like Veena had been, nor was she dismissive about the concerns I had brought forth.

All in all, a lovely person to deal with, given the situation.

However- if I did have to speak poorly about interacting with the "board" as it were, I would definitely suggest that the process itself really needs to be sped up. It took almost two weeks for my calls to be returned [I blame that on inter-office miscommunication, not her] and at least two more before a resolution was even discussed.

If there is an upside to all this, it's that St. Joseph's does take complaints like mine seriously- the only problem being that they take it so seriously that they won't tell you, the patient, a damn thing, or even allow your complaint to be made public. All shades of a mini-BOMEX, where an unethical whitewash takes place under the guise of looking out for the consumer.

Think about this for a minute: the average citizen has no idea how to find out what complaints their doctor has, or what, if any, action has been taken against them in regards to the same. It's easier to find out how many health code violations your local Mc Donald's has, versus being able to see whether your doctor is competent or not.

I'll hazard the theory that when St. Joes is paying out a settlement for a severity of health issue or an actual death occuring from one of these incompetent lapses, they'll give pause to rethinking their pre-established policy, but the jury's still out on that one so far.

During the time this brief dialogue occured, I also had the joy of receiving a certified letter from Veena wherein she whined about my nerve in complaining about her impeccable staff, accused me of using "verbally abusive" language, (told ya she was BATCA crazy) and then discharged me as a patient, without so much as a referral for a new doctor.

Yep. That's who you want making medical decisions for you- an unprofessional ass-covering troglodyte who gets offended when you don't belch rainbows.So to recap: $251.00 in, still in hideous pain, tests required to get vital medication, and now- no doctor. Back to square one. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.00 Start from scratch. Best of luck, here's your hat, bon voyage, arriveaderci. 

Naturally, I took all of this in with an even temper and good humour- the two things that are my stock in trade. Granted, if I was able to have my druthers, I'd like to take that letter, deep-fry it, roll it in powdered sugar, drizzle it with honey, and have a team of rabid gerbils hand-deliver it up Veena's  overly generous rectum sideways.

You know. Like you do.

Up until that point, all I wanted was to make sure my complaint was taken seriously and on the books- no careers ruined, just a course of some minor disciplinary action taken, that's all. After the receipt of that bitchy little missive however, it became exceedingly personal. Nobody has the right to impact your health just because they don't like your "tone", and nobody has the right to keep money they didn't earn for services that they didn't provide.

In other words, I was now going out for metaphorical blood, and I was going to get it, come Hell or high water. The one thing I have noticed after dealing with so many different levels of the medical industry is this- there's a huge disconnect between patients and the staff/doctors in most offices.

Think about all the times a doctor has kept you waiting with no explanation, or their office screwed something up- have you ever gotten a credit for your inconvenience? I didn't think so. But if you're late or have to cancel....  do you get where I'm going with this?

I can't think of any other industry where filing a simple complaint is this much of a pain in the ass, can you? Well I for one, wasn't going to just bend over and take it like I was the new guy in the prison shower, I was gonna get back what was mine- in this case, all the money I had spent on fruitless office visits.

The lingering question: how exactly was I going to do that? To be honest, I wasn't really coming from a position of strength- sure, I was convinced that I was right, but I also feel the same way in regards to how Milla Jovovivch should come over to my house for a massage, and we all know that hasn't happened......yet.

As I stated earlier, I tend to be a rather darkly upbeat, if somewhat cynical, kind of guy- there's generally a lot of criticism directed at cynics, but it's only because people don't "get" us, and as to what brings us joy. That's right- I said "joy". Cynics at their core are ALWAYS happy. Not because we view the world through ash-colored glasses, but because we're consistently being proven right or being pleasantly surprised, all the time.

And I am a cynic's cynic, thank you very much. I understand how the world works, and I comprehend exactly how it's worker drones react when placed under pressure. The answer is simple. They crack like Kim Kardashian's makeup when she smiles. And at it's core, St. Joeseph's is staffed by worker bees, not Queens.

Therein lies the exploitable chink in the armor. One of the major flaws in forcing people to stick to a script is that it doesn't allow the drones independent thought- they have to get every decision approved beforehand, which is maddening when you're dancing around a resolution. One step forward, two steps back, as it were. 

Fortunately, I'm German-Sicilian. We don't dance so much as we march, forward and usually through, a roadblock. As my Father once said to me: "German efficiency mixed with the Sicilian thirst for revenge... yeah, that's a great combination." There was no way in Hell these fraudulent and incompetent nimrods were keeping my money, for one simple reason:


Now by this point, I thought that I had defended my case pretty well with Denise- seemingly genuine in her sympathy, she nonetheless held fast to the corporate line in the sand, albeit without being haughty or unprofessional. But regardless of what she actually believed, she was forced to defer to her so-called superiors, who so far as I could ascertain- just wanted me to shut up and go away without the money I felt that I had wasted.

Clearly, my devastating charm and ruggedly good looks weren't going to cut it over the phone, so whether I liked it or not, it was evidently time for me to dig deep in the dark corners of my soul, pull out that dusty steamer trunk, open it up, and unfurl my inner Machiavelli. placed there many years before. Fortunately for me, it still fit perfectly, and all false humility aside... my ass looked great.

Sensing that I had nothing to lose, I suggest that perhaps the time had come for me to file a lawsuit  via small claims court as a means to get my money back- after all, I had gone though the proper channels, and was getting nowhere [no fault to Ms. Bludis, mind you] and that if I were forced to do so, would use my considerable self-promotion skills to bear, letting everybody know about their business practices.

As you might imagine, threatening a small claims lawsuit for an amount that was less than the cost of an I-phone went over just as well as Steven Hawking telling Mike Tyson he was about to get the beating of his life. Don't quote me, but I'm pretty sure I heard Denise yawn- or maybe it was just a passing breeze... taking place inside her closed-off office. Stranger things have happened.

So I pulled my trump card, and casually added that there was always "Artbitch". Just as casually, the response was: "I'm sorry, did you say Artbitch?"

"Yes. Artbitch. The infamous blog that covers a wide variety of subjects as long as it falls under the Phoenix-based art scene or my life? Artbitch. The blog that took the Phoenix New Times over it's metaphorical knee and spanked them until they started covering the Arts more like a newspaper and less like a home-schooler's pamphlet?

Artbitch. The screed that regularly reminds Phoenicians that Peter Bugg is our artistic version of Adam Sandler minus the charm, talent, and originality? Artbitch. Written by an amazingly talented, yet oddly humble visual artist who's single-handedly changed the perception of Ding Dongs as an after-meal snack?

Artbitch... you know... the blog that..."

In the distance, the sound of crickets, and then: "I'm sorry... who, again?"

Regardless of the fact she had never heard of me [how that is I have no idea- I am so talking to my PR department come Monday] I still felt I was on to something, and decided to roll the dice. After all, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain- in this case, that being two and a half Benjamins, and one sawbuck. That buys a lot of Ding Dongs, by the way, and more than a few gallons of skim milk.

Just putting it out there, that's all. Undaunted however, I pressed on:

"Sigh... never mind- anyways, the point I'm trying to make here is that I have a very select set of skills- in my case, that happens to be creative writing. People are always telling me that I'm a damn good writer, and at this point, I don't think all of them are just trying to be polite. I'm thinking that maybe I need to write something about this whole mess."

"Well, that is your right, Mr. Reich- and if you want to say someth-"

"In fact, I've been getting a lot of attention lately in regards to what I've previously written, the New Times slap-down being chief among them, so I'm thinking that if I could take on a major publishing chain and emerge not only unscathed but better known after the experience, how hard would it be to take on one unprofessional doctor staffed with a bevy of incompetent minions?

I'm no mathematician by any means, but I like my odds here. In fact, here's where it gets interesting- there's this major publication that seems really interested in my stuff, and I want to make my bones with them, so I need to come in strong, know what I'm saying? And I just had this wonderful idea...

How about I pitch them a story regarding patient dissatisfaction with doctors and how complaints are kept hidden from the general public? I could name names, give dates, really get into the facets of the narrative, which would be easy since I've kept really detailed notes... is that a story that you think people would like to read? I sure as heck do, and like I said earlier, there's always my blog if that doesn't pan out.

Granted, it doesn't have the reach of a major magazine- what does? However, what it does have is a  readership base who passes it around like cigarettes in prison. So at the bare minimum, I figure I could inform a few thousand people about why they should avoid you guys like the plague."

What followed was a looooooooong pause.

So long in fact, that I thought she had hung up on me. But like I said, Denise was nice. Professional. And definitely not stupid. That inherent intellect led to what I believe was a spur of the moment command decision, that being the following:

"Mr. Reich? Upon looking at the situation, I think it would be in our, I mean your best interest to refund your money. You obviously feel that we acted in bad faith, so I'll get it moving as soon as possible- you should see a refund in check form sometime in the next four to six weeks."

[It actually got to me in six days. Imagine that!]

And all it took was eleven phone calls, five messages, two veiled threats, and playing on the fear of everybody thinking that your business (and it IS a business long before it's a calling) reeks of unethical behavior to get it done. But I wasn't quite finished yet.

Yes, I had achieved satisfaction and gotten my money back, but the people responsible for this cock-up were pretty much gonna skate on by, a theory borne out by the letter that I received from Ms. Bludis a few days later which summarized the investigation of my complaint. Basically, it goes through everything I claimed very thoroughly [nice job, Denise!] but by and by, allows Dr. Kapoor, Shaun and Veena off the hook.

I think. Or it doesn't. You know what? I'm not really sure, since after all, I the patient, don't need to know or am allowed to know, what consequences (if any) they face. Wouldn't want anyone to feel bad about themselves, you know- it's very damaging for the professional confidence.

At the end of my conversation with Denise, I told her how much I appreciated her help, and how nice she was throughout this entire process, but could I possibly ask one last small favor, to which she easily says: "Yes".

"When you talk to Ms. Dhillon and Dr. Kapoor, let them know this if you would... tell them that despite my getting my money back, I'm still going to write about this."

" Well... that is your right... I guess."

"Thanks, appreciate that. Also please tell them that I'm going to make them famous. And you... you have a lovely day."

Once again, that is how you drop the mic.

"Whenever a doctor cannot do good, he must be kept from doing harm." - Hippocrates