The past couple of weeks have been a harrowing experience. Allergy season came and went and yet I was still wheezing and sneezing — and the nights proved particularly challenging. It took me too long to comprehend that the apartment I was subletting may be the culprit.
I was lucky as fuck to find this place after spending way too long at the Airbnb in Hollywood — with the Hollywood sign greeting me each morning that I made the planned escape from the crowded space that also subbed as a major hub for roaches.
I wasn’t happy with the layout of the sublet, and almost considered rejecting it — but the idea of extending my time with the party creatures seemed unrealistic — so I chose the crammed studio. A Bathroom without windows and a poor ventilation system is always a bad idea. And the two windows in the living area were basically secured to keep the air out.
The extreme heat that Los Angeles endured some weeks ago — must’ve exacerbated an already shitty situation because I found myself gasping for air with frequent urgency — especially at night.
I’ve never given a single thought to breathing because it’s an instinct that shouldn’t require active initiation. Suddenly, I was waking up in the middle of the night — sweating from chronic nasal congestion. Both nostrils closed shut and nothing to quench the feverish panic attacks that caused me to leap from my bed with weary frustration — I succumbed to pacing back and forth in an attempt to get enough air for the rest of the night.
It took a really bad spell for me to realize that it could be the specks of brown in the bathroom. I mean, I’ve never lived in a place with mold so I wasn’t sure, but based on research — it seemed very likely that the sprinkled spots on the walls could be the elements of suffocation.
I headed to the hospital nearby and when I walked in — I immediately knew that it would be a long night. The environment was drenched in the maze of disorganization as patients with needs and without means — were in line for generic relief.
After getting squared away with reception — I sat down and waited my turn. Shortly after, my vital signs were checked and I grabbed the same seat to wait for the doctor. The ungodly hour didn’t affect the steady stream — with each person signaling their down and out status.
I wondered if this was why the hospital floors were sticky — or the walls discolored with usage. I still couldn’t breathe with ease and for once — I was semi-grateful. How could it be that this is the very best we can do for those who aren’t bred by the money machine of a society that picks and chooses accordingly.
When my name was called with familiar hesitation and the apology afterwards — I followed the announcer who directed me to a room with two beds. I was positioned at the end near the window and once again hooked to a blood pressure machine. After the repetitive Q&A session — I was told to wait for the doctor.
As I sat alone and adrift — I couldn’t help but notice the dinginess of the room — coupled with all the accessories thrown about with chaotic disdain. I imagined the hospital rooms assigned to dignitaries and citizens with social security numbers that mandate a certain level of excellence.
It was sad to witness just how bad it can get when you’re out of luck, desperate for care — and lacking the funds to ensure the security of your weakened state. The need for sleep overwhelmed me, but I was kept awake by the length of time it was taking for me to be seen. After over an hour of hearing a drunk guy wail in pain from the thrusts of his vomit — I decided to jump ship.
As I walked out — I almost collapsed on the floor from the fresh blood that looked surprisingly dark with floating bubbles. Once I was outside — I opened my mouth for air and promised to be calm for the early morning sunrise.
The day had begun without me — but I was determined to own the night. I found another hospital in Culver City. The fancy kind — where decent people with human problems are catered to in distilled spaces and timely fashion.
All this to be told that I need to rely on Flonase and over-the-counter decongestants until I’m able to part ways with the cove of my discontent. The bill is going to be through the roof, but when your mouth is the only way to keep your heart beating — you have to beg for relief.
After arriving back — I immediately pounced on the brown bag containing the substances of my worth — and once they were ingested — I fell on the bed with great expectations.
The last thought was the hospital of doom — that matched the dimming prognosis of those who dare to stumble in with children in tow or just solo with practiced tempo. The anger warmed me up and ushered me off to where I had been dying to go — for four days.
Then the earth shook and cried out with authoritativeness — and my eyes opened as I took my first breath.
This was the first time I had felt the earthquake that everybody talks about as I listen with envy. I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of such a thing — even though I am aware of the dire consequences.
The experience was awesome and stirringly perfect as it arrived to herald the opening of what I had been seeking without comfort. I heard the doors swing open and voices that confirmed what I already knew. I was surprisingly calm in a spiritual way. I was also more informed about the chaos of the health care system in America — and how uneven and unfair it is for those who can’t afford trained nurses and doctors that appear before you even change into the garments of examination.
As I surrendered to another dose of slumber — I forgot about the earth-shattering moment and focused on my breathing. I couldn’t hear a sound — and the ride was smooth and welcoming.
Hopefully this won’t be my last breath.