Monday, January 21, 2013


A guest at the Georgian felt stabbing pain in his back as he bent over. He could barely move.

Acute back pain usually doesn’t last long, so I assured him that he would be disabled for a day and then gradually improve. I admit I was not anxious to make this visit because it was 4 p.m. I would be driving to Santa Monica and back during the rush hour, a tedious experience. But he wanted a visit as soon as possible.

It was a tedious drive, not improved by the sight of immobile traffic on the opposite side of the freeway. The guest answered the door himself, always a good sign in someone with back pain. I examined him and handed over pain medication; it was an easy visit.

My hope that the freeway would speed up in time for my return was in vain, so I settled into the rear of a nearly motionless stream of cars. I was in no hurry; it was suppertime, but I wasn’t too hungry. After ten minutes, my phone rang. A guest at the Crowne Plaza in Beverly Hills asked for a doctor. His wife was vomiting.

I often delay visits a few hours, but people who are vomiting hate waiting. This would normally be a quick drive because the Crowne Plaza was only five miles away, and I was headed in that direction. But it was the rush hour. I left the freeway and crept for thirty minutes along Pico Boulevard to the hotel. The visit went well, and the drive home was tolerable.

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