The 4th of July from a Hospital Room


In the haze of two days of fevers and chills that came on suddenly Monday and sent me to the Hospital California Tuesday, who knew the universe would throw me a bone and deliver one of the most amazing fireworks displays I’ve ever seen. But that’s exactly what it did and I’m forever grateful for the gift.

I was arguing with a nurse for Tylenol, which I’m still shaking my head about in disbelief. I have a feeling I should have just asked for a morphine drip and compromised with Tylenol. But who knew Tylenol was a such a hard drug to secure in a hospital. I had to answer a series of questions at the time to get it. Last time I checked it wasn’t being used to make meth, and I didn’t bring my portable meth lab with me. But it went something like this.

“You don’t have a fever.”

“I have the chills. That’s why I’m wrapped up in blankets.”

“Your temperature is low, not high.”

“Okay? And that means I can’t have Tylenol?”

“You have to have a fever.”

“I have a headache.”

“Let me check with the doctor.”

Now picture that conversation three times longer and 10 times more frustrating. I wish I were making it up. But when the nurse was off duty this morning, the first thing I did was take her picture out of the plastic wall frame, which is something new here at the Hospital California, and tear it into pieces and despose of it. I couldn’t take her staring at me like a horror-movie painting where the eyes follow you everywhere.

At that time, a bit angry, I got up and looked out the window to my view of East Los Angeles. Fireworks everywhere. Not one location, or two or three or four. Try 20 different locations. Bagdad on the eve of the invasion. I have never seen anything like it.

I’m sure not all of the fireworks shows were sanctioned or legal. Many of them were backyard shows that put to shame anything my family ever did when fireworks were legal. We fired off pop-bottle rockets and roman candles, and ran from black cats ready to blow. Nothing like what I witnessed as apartment complexes gave mini Disney-like shows. And they were beautiful. 180 degrees of exploding lights.

I watched, for a long time, waiting for it to end. But it went on and on. And finally I had go back to the bed. And every time I got up there were fireworks in the sky. Over two hours of it, though it got more scattered late into the night. Huge props to East LA. They know how to celebrate Independence Day!

Earlier, my wife and daughter came to visit with patriotic red velvet cupcakes in hand. They had poppers with them and tried to convince me not fire them off in the room. Fear not, I said, pulling the string, I’m an expert. Bang, a spark, the smell of gunpowder. A nice change from the normal chemical smell. No nurse came running. It takes more than that. Trust me, I know.

And later during the fireworks show, I fired another one off, though it was equally disappointing, as it spit out a wad of confetti and not the expected wide spray of it. Party Poopers would be a better name.

That was my 4th of July. And though I was spent it in a tiny hospital room, it was awesome – except the nurse part. Not so awesome. And I’ll be bringing my own Tylenol to the party next time – thank you very much.

11 thoughts on “The 4th of July from a Hospital Room

  1. At least you were festive, dude. I’m the crumdgeonly old man who gets ticked off when people are lighting fireworks in the street in the middle of the afternoon. Childhood trauma. Call me, we’ll talk about it.

    Feel better, brother. Sending you healing thoughts!

    • Grandpa Josh,

      You’re like Eastwood’s character in . . . I just forgot the name of the car that was the name of the movie. What a grump.

      If I had unlimited funds for mayhem and mischief, I would fly to your neighborhood and give your neighbors 1K worth of fireworks each for the next 4th of July. Then I’d have them paint “unknown was here” on your front door.

      You’re welcome that I don’t have the dough to blow on pranks like that. But be warned that if I win the lottery, you’re going to be punked – big time.


  2. Yeah, I’d bring my bag of over-the-counter meds next time. Ridiculous doesn’t even cover it, and here I had a doc tell me to take my codiene with a little scotch ‘to take the edge off’ when I tore ligaments in my ankle. I suspect true professional behavior lies somewhere between the two extremes.

    I actually tried to tweet you a pic of my sons oxygen stats on the evening of the 4th (Our time) We were in hospital and he was at 79% and I thought of you. Hubby was out of town and so it was just the kiddo and I, and I thought, “there’s one person in the world I know who knows exactly what it feels like to be in this position…” Then of course my damn iphone wouldn’t text for some bizarre reason. But there, we were talking about you all the way over here!

    Both of you spending your independence day locked up on a sterile, white environment. The irony was not lost on me, but then we didn’t have a bouquet of colorful lights in the sky to get us through the night… just oxygen, Albuterol, Prednisilone – and the resulting hallucinations that go along with those drugs – now I think about it, perhaps he WAS seeing colorful lights as he scratched at my eyes not knowing who I was. At least I hope its a lot better in your heads aftetr taking that stuff than it looks from where I sit. It’s complex isn’t it? To hate something so much and yet desperately crave the relief it brings… At least that’s how it feels as the parent.

    I’m glad for you that it was one of the ‘better’ (ridiculous to say I know) stays and that it wasn’t all bad. Given your frequency of visits, you deserve it my friend! Hope you are on the mend. x

    • Karyn,

      I don’t know what to say. Your reply took the air out of my lungs. I feel so bad that you and especially your son had to go through that. I have an idea what it is like to be in ERs and hospitals, but not what it’s like to be a parent in that situation. And you were alone with your husband not there.

      I’m not a big believer in religion, but I said a prayer for your son for good health. And I am embarrassed to admit that I sent him two large beams of light energy from Los Angeles. I know. Crazy. But I felt so bad for both of you and wish I could help more. I hope your son is feeling better now. 79%? That had to be scary and stressful.

      That’s for sharing this personal story with me. I did smile when you mentioned you were thinking of me because of the situation. There you are in AUS. What a strange but great world. I was touched.

      Here’s wishing that none of your family has to see the inside of a hospital again. And it just hit me it’s winter for you. So good health for all of you though the cold season.

      Please update me on your son if you feel like it.


      • We’re doing great today – as I hope you are. I sent you a tweet with the latest sats photos. Great stuff! I’m sure it has everything to do with the light beams, I’ve heard if a superhero sends them out they have magical powers.

        It is winter here, but this is his first real ‘episode’ in almost two years. Yes, I’d like never to have them at all, but every two years is better than his Texas (fracking territory) rate of about every two weeks! Ill take it and be grateful (and pray earnestly for summer to come just a little quicker).

        Thanks for your reply, your responses always bring a smile. Stay well my friend, you have a lot of superhero work to complete, God-knows this world needs you. 😉

      • As usual I have been AWOL with no excuse but life and not making OM a priority. I am about to publish a post in the next hour or so that you will get a kick out of (I think) it’s a youtube ad that was on air here until recently.

        My husband and I were flabbergasted that it was passed for public TV. But there you go, Australia may be quite liberal, but that doesn’t mean we have good taste!

        I look forward to catching up with your posts as I sit online today, hope you and your family are well!

      • Karyn of AUS,

        I can’t wait to read the post. Will look tonight. Not sure what is wrong with WP. I used to get your posts via email.

        Will let you know what I think.


    • Melanie,

      It’s really nice to hear from you. Especially since you update your Facebook account about as often as I do, which is never for me.

      I miss your blog on Please start it up again, or at least post an update.

      Best to you and the family.


    • Margie,

      There always has to be a bright spot in the gloom. Yes, the stay sucks, as do they all. But man what a show. Definitely a different side of LA down here.

      Best to you and the family,


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