If you don’t want a lot of unwanted attention, don’t fall in a doctor’s office.

Thursday, April 7. I had another in a series of ongoing doctor’s appointments for my ongoing gastrointestinal problems. I had just concluded a conference with my doctor, stood up, exited the exam room, turned down a hallway and promptly stumbled.

I hit the floor like a ton of bricks. “Patient down!” echoed throughout the cavernous room at 2020 Santa Monica Blvd., as every nurse, medical assistant, secretary and associated staff member in the place came running to my aid. “Did you hit your head?” I was asked. “No, just fell. I’m OK.” I replied.

I was lucky. No broken bones and only a bruise or two. Arrangements were quickly made to ship me off to UCLA/Santa Monica Hospital for an evaluation. “I’m fine,“ I told them, “I don’t need to go to the hospital…” “You’re obviously ‘not fine’ or you wouldn’t have fallen for no reason,” I was informed by one of those attending me.

Less than an hour after I showed up for a routine doctor’s appointment, I’m admitted to the hospital as a “medical emergency.”  Over the course of the next eight days, I was subjected to every test and procedure known to modern medical medicine.

I had CAT scans, physical exams, brain scans, Doppler ultra-sound scans and X-rays. It took forever to get some of the tests performed, but they were finally completed and evaluated. The results revealed a variety of minor medical issues. However, the net results of lying flat on a hospital bed for more than a week resulted in extreme loss of muscle mass to the point of being unable to even stand up.

In other words, it only took eight days to turn me, a fully functioning former weight lifter, into a quivering, bed-ridden invalid.

If I were to resume my normal life living alone, including driving, shopping, writing, working, maintaining my apartment, going to the YMCA and other usual activities – rehabilitation was necessary. That meant entering a convalescent home or nursing center for weeks of physical therapy.

UCLA Health placed me in the Brentwood Health Care Center, 1321 Franklin St. in Santa Monica. On Friday, April 15, I was ferried from the hospital by ambulance to Brentwood HCC and checked in. I was greeted warmly by the staff and settled into a semiprivate room next to a lovely courtyard and garden.

My rehab consisted of both occupational and physical conditioning under the watchful eyes of a battery of professional trainer/therapists. I rebuilt my strength and endurance, which allowed me to stand from a seated position, get in and out of bed and walk without stumbling or falling. Nevertheless, I had a temporary setback: a life-threatening low red blood cell count sent me to UCLA/Reagan Hospital for emergency blood transfusions.

After nearly six weeks, I graduated from bedpan and wheelchair to complete control of bodily functions and a walking cane for stability. I was finally cleared to “go home” last Monday. My recovery wouldn’t have been possible or as quick without the help of my good friends and the 100 percent professional staff at Brentwood HCC.

Administrator Tanner Mitchell is on top of things at Brentwood HCC constantly. He’s responsible for its reputation as one of the top-ranked rehab/nursing care/convalescent facilities in Southern California.

Everyone took extraordinary care of me. One Brentwood HCC housekeeper shared a thermos of her home-brewed coffee with me early one morning because I “looked like I needed a cup.” A nurse’s aid brought cotton swabs from home because we couldn’t locate any at the facility.

Deepest thanks to my good buddy Ron Hooks (West Coast Care) and his wife Lenore who handled everything for me, including personal laundry, shuttling me to and from doctor’s appointments and paying household utility bills. Hooks was also my partner in crime by taking me out for (or delivering) cheeseburgers, Cokes or “Jumbo Jack” combos because bland hospital food becomes very boring after a while.

My thanks and appreciation goes to officers and non-sworn personnel at the Santa Monica Police Department. They, especially my fellow “partners” on the Homeless Liaison Program team, frequently visited and offered their support and “anything I needed.” Needless to say, watching the reaction of folks at Brentwood HCC when a team of uniformed police officers came a calling was a kick.

Fellow DP columnist Charles Andrews frequently dropped by to keep me current with local affairs. My gratitude to Daily Press Editor Matt Hall and Publisher Rob Schwenker for their visits and the knockout SMDP-logo sweatshirt. Neighborhood activist Tricia Crane of Residocracy gave her support in the form of a home cooked meatloaf dinner after I returned home. Thanks. It was delicious!

Thanks also to my fellow patients at Brentwood HCC such as the Manhattan Beach Indian family in a neighboring suite who brought in Chicken Tikka Masala, Aloo Gobi and other ethnic delights. However, my real joy was watching the family patriarch recover from a serious brain injury during the period I was in rehab.

Lastly, I’d like to thank my long-time friends like Peter Tigler who provided their best wishes and other “goodies” to speed my recovery – and that includes many neighborhood leaders whose deeds and best wishes were also gratifying.

Next week, the old “Bill Bauer” will be back with some comments on the LUVE petition, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce’s latest public relations stumble and the lies and outright B.S. being disseminated by developer-backed, pro-growth groups. Buckle up.

Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com.

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