Travel Scenery and the Usefulness of a Sketchbook

I’m back from my latest medical excursion to the city. Actually, I’ve been back for a while, but upon my immediate return I succumbed to the virus du jour. It’s taking me a while to get my strength back. Hence, the extended silence. I went to see yet another neurological specialist. He doesn’t know what I have either. But at least he wasn’t an arrogant scum about it like the previous one. He actually seems to want to help. He’s also communicative and will answer a phone call, which, I’ve come to realize, is highly unusual. It seems I might never know what I have. But they’ll monitor its progression.

However, there’s more to a trip to the city than just medical stuff. There’s the scenery along the way!

Obviously, nothing says manly bar with “NO Grill” better than badly kerned Papyrus. Or at least it does if you’re in Willits.

I actually enjoyed the view from my Daly City motel.

What can I say — when you live in the sticks, having a streetlight outside the window is a welcome change of scenery.

Then I paused in Marin on the way back up. The motel scenery is more bucolic here.

Unfortunately, however, a convention of search and rescue professionals coincided with my visit. They were all fitness freaks. My room, I discovered, was directly above the treadmill. Let’s just say it was not as peaceful as the view would suggest.

And, of course, all throughout I dragged my sketchbook (and too many art supplies) with me.


The sketchbook especially comes in handy during medical visits. This time around wasn’t so bad, but the visit before last I saw a different neurologist. That one, unlike this respectful new one who answers phone calls, was an arrogant quack. Among other irritations, he twice walked out of my appointment for around 45 minutes.

The first time he left, I was at least still dressed. The second time he left me lying on the table, mid exam, in the paper gown. And didn’t return, again, for the better part of an hour. It didn’t appear to be for an emergency. He offered no apology.

At some point while lying on the table I realized my appointment wouldn’t be resuming any time soon. Again. So I got up and, after making a phone call and chatting for a while, got out my version of crayons and a coloring book and began to doodle. It really does help pass the time.

I call this spread “Medical Waiting Room.”


11 thoughts on “Travel Scenery and the Usefulness of a Sketchbook”

  1. I am so glad you found a nicer doctor. That makes me chilly (physically and mentally…towards him) just thinking about you having to sit around in a paper gown for so long!

    • Thanks Amy. It was infuriating. I was made to show up at 7:45am — that was the only time I was allowed to have the appointment. I was told I could take it or have no appointment. He only saw people at 8am. And there was no other neurologist who would see me, I was told. He also made some hideously inappropriate comments about my pain and my need for a cane. It was pretty demoralizing. Mostly, I’m just relieved to have been passed on to this most recent doctor. I was amazed when he personally returned a call from me the other day, and spent time talking kindly and respectfully with me. It was refreshing.

      It’s always so nice to hear from you. I do hope you and all the family are having a good Christmas season!

      • PS It suddenly occurred to me that it was actually a cloth gown. Funny how in my mind, it was even flimsier. Small detail, though. It was still hard to keep everything from hanging out!

  2. LOVE your record of that visit. What a shame you didn’t have the materials to hand to make it a collage and add barbed wire and broken glass to the image (and/or the neuro). Oxygen-thieving arsewipe. I hope he gets a sample of the conditions he so spectacularly fails to treat for Christmas.

    • As usual, EC, you have captured so well my thoughts and made me laugh in the midst of the holiday season. Indeed. Among other things, he was confrontational about my use of a cane(??). I’d love to see him make his way through the seasonal throngs and long lines on leaden, fatigued jelly legs with no stick to lean on. Hell, he’d probably be begging for a scooter! Oxygen-thieving arsewipe indeed. So judgmental and arrogant.

  3. I love those little books you make! So glad the new doc is a real human being — how nice, for a change. Looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday. I’ll bring a couple of my recent books. xo

  4. I know there are some gentle souls who believe in karma.I prefer the more immediate application of boot to backside.Although, in your case you might need a proxy kicker!
    Still, Mr.Rude is out and Mr.Nice is in.That has to be a good sign.
    I’m sorry the S and R chaps were a bit loud, but if someone has to retrieve the broken bones,I guess you’d want them to be fit!
    Here’s to more good things coming your way. xx

    • Greetings Di! Indeed, I do hope it is a good sign that the bad doctor is out and the considerate one is in. We’ll see…

      As for the search and rescue crew, it’s one of those things that was very much not funny at the time (I was exhausted, and had paid for that extra motel day so I could sleep and rest!), but after the fact it now seems kind of funny. (And, I should add, as someone who lives next to a notoriously dangerous coastline where people frequently get themselves into trouble, I do, as a member of society, appreciate what they do.) Still…

      Part of their conference involved K-9 training, although I hadn’t actually seen evidence of a dog. They all left the same day I did. As I was packing up my car, I heard lots of excited barking. The K-9 turned out to be a hyper-looking German Shepherd. His handler seemed to be having a difficult time on the other end of the leash. I smiled. And felt fortunate they hadn’t had the room next to mine.

  5. Hello Ellen,

    I am sorry to hear that your latest trip to SF did not give you a result in the form of a name of the disease. Have you throught or even tried this rare illness team? Maybe it wouldn’t help much with treating your condition, but I imagine it would give you some peace of mind to finally put a nametag to it.

    Glad to hear you like your new neurologist. Is he going to keep on treating you? I cannot understand how some doctors can be so arrogant! Someone should tell them that they failed their vocation if they cannot bear to treat their patients with due respect. Tss!

    Have you read this: ? Another awful story of how patients are treated in SF hospitals. – Incredible! Especially where the doctor is being so awful about the connection between lung cancer and smoking (this is a recurring theme in their story, unfortunately. Someone is sick, and what is the first thing they hear from a doctor? – Accusations. It is outrageous.)

    But I love that you found such a good use of your time, being left half-naked on a table. And the page that came out looks interesting and so expressive. A staring eye…

    • Thanks Hilke! That link was so interesting, I wound up reading a lot more of her blog as well. Very interesting. We actually had our own bad experience with that very same nasty judgmental hospital some 20 years ago when a family member died. It was appalling.

      And I almost died 10 years ago, quite literally, thanks to the maltreatment I got at the St Joseph-affiliated hospital near where I live. I am only still here today and typing this comment to you because after leaving there, we then went to another, non-St Joseph affiliated ER later in the day where they admitted me for urgent surgery. Thankfully, there is still one hospital left here that they don’t control. The St Joseph Health System is a rapacious beast, and has been buying up formerly independent practices and hospitals, extending their reach far and wide. Just yesterday there was a news item that they have now also acquired a big internal medical practice, where I happen to go for my lab work locally. There is no escaping them. I thought it interesting in her post that she mentioned that they also own the practices and facilities where her husband has been getting his cancer treatment.

      There was so much that was so appalling about that story, beginning with the TWO hours they made him wait before offering any pain or nausea relief… and then sending him to Palliative Care?! I will try to calm down and leave it there. As you can tell, I deeply detest St Joseph Health System. Not that the others are much better, but there does seem to be something particularly unsettling about that corporation. The especially galling bit is they are officially a “non-profit” run by a religious order. There are posters all over their facilities letting you know how much they value compassion and care, all in the Name of the Holy One. I find it particularly offensive.

      As for the rare diseases people, theoretically all these UCSF specialists passing me around are supposed to offer a similar kind of … service? But where I’ll go from here if they can’t come up with a diagnosis, I don’t know. It’s bad enough traveling to SF. The thought of flying across the country for what might simply be more frustration… I’m not sure how much more effort and expense beyond this I can take. Whatever it is, I suspect there’s no treatment anyway. But a name sure would make things easier to deal with, as you say.

      Thanks so much for your comment. I feel guilty–I have been quietly lurking over at yours (and enjoying your posts, and genuinely meaning to return to leave a comment!). I do appreciate it. Fröhliche Weihnacht!

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