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.