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Unclassified Info: Modern medicine and pains in the neck

For some reason, I have become a bit of a medical connoisseur.

For most of my life (knock on wood), I have managed to avoid the need for doctors, aside from a chronic pain in my neck exacerbated by prolonged exposure to my ex-wife. Sadly, there does not seem to be a remedy for this particular ailment, although I remain optimistic a cure will be found one day.

Half of this particular odyssey began about 22 years ago when I entered the world of advertising. Glamorous though it may appear from TV shows like Bewitched and Mad Men, it can be a stressful occupation. I have found that survival depends on keeping a roll of Tums in my left-front pocket. By modest estimates, I have ingested approximately 6,200 Tums over the last two decades.

About six months ago, while my ex-wife was dragging me back into court for the sixth time, my family was ostracizing me for publicly admitting I had been sexually abused as a child, and my job in Corporate America was becoming unbearably demanding, I began to increase my usual dosage of antacids. Evidently the dogpile of stresses made it imperative for me to seek the expert opinion of a gastroenterologist.


Enter Doctor Mehdi Khorsandi. This is a man so utterly pleasant he can make an endoscopy sound like a ride at Disneyland. In truth, he explained the outpatient procedure was necessary to examine my esophagus for potential damage as a result of the insane amount of Tums I have consumed. Who knew?

But before I could get to my endoscopy, I injured my ankle in a childish poolside accident. Note to readers: Listen to your mom when she says no horseplay around the pool. A couple of excruciating days after my now-infamous “Cannon Ball Fail,” I hobbled into Verdugo Hills Urgent Care.

With no real expectations of speedy service, I sat. I was pleased to find that after a short wait, I was whisked into an examining room and promptly X-rayed. Fortunately, the attending physician found no breaks or fractures, just a bunch of soft-tissue damage courtesy of my own stupidity. The attending physician recommended an orthopedist, so off I went, my ankle in a fiberglass splint and X-rays in hand to seek a higher authority.

Enter Dr. Loren Geller — my new orthopedist. After a couple more X-rays, he was confident my ankle would be ready for more diving board hilarity in about six weeks. But seeing as I’m an impatient fellow and had not yet reached double digits on my medical appointments for the week, I sought the help of a healer.


Enter Maile Vanderford — a healing practitioner located in Pasadena. My girlfriend suggested I let Maile have a look at my ankle to see if she could provide some relief. I’m sure some of you are expecting me to report that after having crystals waved over my chakras, I got up and danced around the room while chanting new age mantras.

Unfortunately, energetic healing doesn’t work that way. But I can say this: my ankle has made remarkable progress over the last couple of days and I do attribute it to Vanderford’s work and my belief in its efficacy.

This brings me back to the world of western medicine and my endoscopy, which was performed at Glendale Memorial Hospital. After a very efficient admitting process, I was whisked into the room where the procedure was to be performed.

I was attended to by three cheery nurses who hooked me up to electrodes, gently poked me with needles and tethered me to the gurney. The last thing I remembered was a smiling Dr. Khorsandi asking me if I felt tired.

“Not at all,” I said. Two seconds later I woke up in another room surrounded by a different group of nurses — 90 minutes had gone by while I was out cold.

For those keeping score: three doctors, one healer, 12 nurses, eight X-rays, three prescriptions, three hospitals, one splint, a camera shoved down my pie hole and one big revelation — Tums are out, Prilosec is in.

Yet after all that, there’s still no cure for my recurring pain in the neck. Although on the upside, I found a flyer for a local Swiss handyman who does plumbing, woodwork and claims the ability to solve problems no one else has been able to handle.

I’m thinking of calling him to see what he can do about the ex-wife.


GARY HUERTA is a Glendale resident and author. He is currently working on his second novel and the second half of his life. Gary may be reached at