Monday, February 2, 2009

A church with benefits

I've been giving serious consideration to weaseling my way into the Church of Scientology.

Dunno if you have to apply for church membership, wait to be invited to join, or born into Scientology like Suri Cruise. I'm just thinking that as I get deeper into this cancer thing, there's something about the Church of Scientology that is very appealing to me.

The Church of Scientology's Los Angeles headquarters is located at 4810 Sunset Blvd.

Kaiser Permanente's sprawling Los Angeles Medical Center occupies a string of buildings from 4700 Sunset to 4950 Sunset, with the Church of Scientology smack dab in the middle.

So if I were a member of the Church of Scientology and housed at the massive Los Angeles facility, I would live just a short stroll away from all of my doctors' offices, my pharmacies, the radiation and oncology services, and the hospital.

That would be so cool.

Take today, for example.

Too cheap to park in the main parking facility on Edgemont Street, when I have an appointment at Kaiser I typically tool up and down the side streets searching for free parking or a meter flashing "FAIL."

Today the Parking Gods were smiling down upon me: One of the two free parking spaces designated for patients on the Kaiser Kampus was available to me. (Actually, a Shelter Clean truck was parked illegally in one of the two spaces but I just waited for its driver to return to the truck and exit the lot so I could claim the space for myself.)

I had no fewer than four appointments or tasks to handle in my visit to Kaiser today, and by the time I had completed them, it was the middle of the afternoon.

What a score: Five hours of parking in Los Angeles for free!

But if I were a Scientologist living at the Sunset compound across from Kaiser, I could have rolled out of bed, threw on a shirt and pulled up my trousers, and found myself sitting in an exam room having my blood pressure taken in a matter of minutes, without having to contend with the hassle of driving a car, dealing with traffic, and parking.

It's significant that my appointments today spanned the breadth of the Kaiser Kampus.

I began at the pharmacy at Edgemont, hopped across the street to my head-and-neck surgeon's office, walked a few blocks east to the Insurance Department, walked several blocks west to the Radiation and Oncology department, where I was told I needed to be on the 8th floor of a building all the way at the eastern limits of Kaiser's property.

I did a lot of walking and dragging my heavy backpack, and spent a fair amount of down time waiting for my name or number to be called.

If I had my own nest on Scientology's real estate, I could have slept in later and spent some of that downtime between appointments in the Scientology rec room, watching "I Love Lucy," "The View" or educational videos about L. Ron Hubbard.

If I seriously want to join the Church of Scientology, I better move quickly. I'm going to need to be at Kaiser every weekday for six and half weeks, starting Monday, for radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Just think of the time and money I would save if I could walk to and from my radiation and chemo sessions.

Problem is, I would want to resign from the church no later than after my final chemo treatment at the end of March.

That could trigger a tsunami of unpleasantness. I have read that leaving the Church of Scientology is a tad more complicated than, say, dropping out of the Ralphs Club or telling a Pilates instructor you don't need him anymore.

Well, then, here is money-saving Plan B: snare a Metro pass for the months of February and March, and travel to Kaiser on the Red Line, which stops at practically the front doorstep of the Los Angeles Medical Center.

Or just bite the bullet and drive myself to my radiation and chemotherapy appointments, tithing occasionally to the Gods of Parking for benevolent treatment.

In the long run, that might be in my better interests than joining any church that has the word "Science" contained in its name.

I never was a very good science student.


My hometown paper is evaporating before my very eyes –next, I expect Sam Zell to save on the cost of newsprint by ordering Cathy & Irving to move into the Bumstead household– but The New York Times still manages to maintain independent specialty sections. Here's an interesting report from the Science section of Tuesday's New York Times: New Oral Cancer Tests: Crucial or Wasteful?


  1. I'm sure you're leaning more and more towards the Scientology enrollment but have you asked your doctor (or doctors) if they'd sign the application for a handicap parking placard? I mean, there's gotta be SOME quirk in all of this, right?

  2. Thanks for the tip!

    A member of the Cancer Club who reads this blog said that Kaiser will validate parking for me when I get radiation and chemo treatments. That'll save me $4 each day, or $132 over the next few months.

    What I REALLY wish I could do is start riding my bike again for transportation. But bugs would fly into my trach and I'm sure I'd get the G-tube caught in my spokes. My bike is on blocks in my living room now.