Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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early august 1995

The ILM Siggraph '95 party was huge. Two stages blared funk, bagpipes, folkpop. Thousands of guests milled around fountains in an unidentifiable outdoor complex intersperced with tables bearing piles of fowl sausage.
I had given a MBone televised speech that day at the conference, but I wasn't celebratin', cuz my tummy was aching. I'd just eaten somce Indian food at the Hotel Figueroa, so I thought it was an indigestion problem.

Marijuana is prescribed to chemo patients and AIDS victims to relieve their suffering. I smoked some pot to relieve mine.

It worked, but only temporarily. The party was winding down, I was invited to continue elsewhere, but I declined.

I returned to a friend's hotel with her, she was looking out for me. I crashed in her bed, thought I'd sleep through my indigestion.

The pain in my guts wouldn't let me sleep. I spent a few hours uneasily shifting my weight around the bed, trying to find a position that wouldn't send shots through my stomach. By this time I thought I must have an ulcer - I didn't think my web work could be that stressful.

the pain in my guts wouldn't let me sleep.

The familiar head rush came, I lurched to the bathroom. I heaved into the toilet until I was empty and lay down on the bathroom floor.

Good, I thought this would relieve my problems. Whether it was the Indian food, or the Long Island Iced Tea, throwing up should get it out of my system.

I lurched back up and threw up nothing. Painful dry heaves left me reeling.

"wanda" my voice was comically creaking. "Wanda!" she couldn't hear me.

I stood, and lurched into the bedroom; I could barely stand.

"Wanda, Wanda, I need to go to the hospital."

She sat up, "oh man, why don't you sit here on the bed, and relax a minute"

"No wanda, I need to leave now."

She entered crisis mode. She split the room while I put on my shirt, sarong and flip flops.

It hurt so bad...

Her across the hall neighbor, Harvey, was an old-time hacker who could find us a hospital. They took me downstairs, out in front of the hotel to wait for Wanda's car. It hurt so bad, I couldn't stand; I lay down on the sidewalk, and they carried me to the car.

...I lay down on the sidewalk

They pulled up to the California Hospital Medical Center and brought me a wheelchair. In five minutes I was bedbound, IVed and being tested.

A few folks came in and poked around my guts. I would let out an appropriate snarl whenever they hit the right spot.

They finally gave me a little morphine.

The doctor believed I had appendicitis. They would have to cut me open and take out my appendix. Otherwise, the appendix would burst, my guts infected, and I could die.
Remove my appendix? Cut it out of me, what is this, the middle ages? Isn't it there for a reason?
Lose the appendix, I didn't really have a choice. If it had not yet ruptured, I was looking at only 36 hour stay, I could be outta here by Satuday. If it was perforated, reptured, burst I would be incarcerated for four to seven days while they cleansed appendix puss out of my insides.

I called my Mom in Chicago. We chatted a little, she asked me where I was. I told her I was in the hospital, that I was having some problems. She asked if I wanted her to come out, I said I just needed some insurance information.

I was a little wary of letting them operate, it looked crowded and uncomfortable and antiquated, but Wanda and I decided to go ahead and have the surgery here. Doctor Duarte said transferring hospitals was risking my life.

While I was awaiting transfer to my own room, I got to hear some real suffering. A middle-aged black woman in the bed next to mine, behind the curtain, was moanin' so, she was passing stones or something, whatever it was she was cryin' and heavin' and just so sad screamin'. I stuck my hand out and gripped hers, "god loves you, stay strong sister."

Doctor Duarte said transferring hospitals was risking my life.

Doctor Duarte
Between the morphine and her screaming, I felt better already. My mother was on her way to Los Angeles one hour ten minutes after we hung up. She would be arrived just a few minutes before my scheduled surgery.

The next four hours I lay around in a drug pain haze. Never enough painkiller, but I wasn't as screwed up as I had been earlier. If ever I was comfortable, another doctor would come in to poke around my guts or give me a shot.

My step-brother George's wife's mother, a vivacious gray haired lady judge came in to survey the operation and make sure I was hunky dorey. Wanda returned from Siggraph with PigHead Mark Meadows. I felt loved by people I hadn't really ever spent much time with.

My mom arrived at 3.15pm and set about reorganizing the entire operation. She'd arranged a better hospital, a better surgeon. Where's the assigned doctor? Let's get them both on the phone. Are you a doctor? Explain to me the situation here.

Pighead, Wanda and the judge watched in amazement. I felt secure in the midst of my mother's dynamism.

Transfer was still too risky, both in movement and potential delays. I rolled into surgery at the California Hospital Medical Center at around 4.10pm.

General anesthesia, breathing gas, I was out for the forty minutes it took Doctor Duarte to clean my perforated appendix out of my innards.

I slept through the quick part. I was hospitalized for five days afterwards.

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