December 2006: I visit my doctor (not a Kaiser doc) after straining a muscle in my back. We play a little game I like to call “Okay, now push my arm this way.” It’s okay, but it’s no hungry, hungry hippos. Doc agrees about the strained back and tells me my rotator cuff might be strained as well. You can’t find that out from hungry, hungry hippos.

Early 2007: After a little bit of therapy for the back, I resume normal activities, such as surfing, fooseball, drinking, and Hungry, Hungry Hippos with no adverse effects. Life was good.

Sign up for Kaiser: The new job asks how much my health is worth to me? Nothing (no insurnace)? A little (Evil HMO)? A lot (decent insurance)? Telling myself I’m young and healthy, I go with the Dark Side.

Early Summer 2007: Paddling around on the old surfboard, and suddenly my shoulder feels like, well, something that doesn’t feel good. I stop surfing. I wait a few weeks, but unlike a respectable problem, the shoulder pain does not go away. I make an appointment with the HMO.

July/Auguast 2007: New Doc and I play “Okay, now push my arm this way.” He declined my Hungry, Hungry Hippos invitation afterwards. He thinks I should take some ibuprofen. He tells me an X-ray won’t help, its muscular (I knew this). He tells me an MRI won’t help, if it was the rotator cuff it would’ve been accompanied by some great pain (I don’t believe him, I tell him what Old Doc said, it does no good). IB Profen, minimal use of the arm. Thats it.

I would like to point out that New Doc, employee of Evil Kaiser, was quick to dismiss any expensive tests, and sent me out to take over the counter medication.

Two weeks later: New Docs advice only leads to a torn up stomach, which helps keep my weight down by inducing vomiting if I have more than three drinks. Thats good cause I had to stop running, and I still can’t surf, cause my shoulder hurts. Not eager for another round of “Okay, now push my arm this way” or being told to sit on my ass for another two weeks, I put off going back to the doctor.

December 2007: I finally go back to the doctor. New guy, still kaiser. We play “Okay, now push my arm this way” I’ve got some experience at the game now, and I have to admit he’s not bad. He concedes that an MRI would be prudent, and passes on Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

When I call to make an MRI appointment the following Tuesday, radiology doesn’t have the paper work, I can’t make an appointment. Christmas distracts me and I don’t call for another ten days. The nearest appointment they can schedule is in February. Mid-February. That’s a month and a half away.

Thanks Kaiser. So happy to be giving you my money, in return for which not only do I not get proper medical care, I can’t even get tests to tell me what proper medical care should be.

If anyone out there can sport me an MRI, please let me know in the comments. I would also like to point out that people at Kaiser medical facilities, patients and employees, seem a little sad. I don’t mean that like when I run into a girl I went to middle school with and find out she’s a stripper, sad like how you probably looked after your hamster died in the third grade.

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