The night before was spent doing a demo tape
for some friends. Not the quick-and-dirty meatball recording that I used to do on short notice in the studio, but a living room, a Portastudio
, a small mixing board, and as many
microphones as I could corral. They only needed a tape for getting gigs in the local clubs; this lo-fi
setup was sufficient.
I was still under the weather, with a cold that wouldn't go away. The cigarettes tasted a bit odd, and I'd have a little trouble breathing on occasion. But all colds go away eventually. No big deal.
We all crashed at the house where we did the recording, too tired to pack the drums and amps right away. In the morning, we went out to breakfast. After finishing the meal and sitting around for a while, we left our tips and started to leave. That's the last thing I remember.
"Are you OK?", or some such things were said, as my friends and a waitress or two tried to revive me. I had apparently passed out as I was getting up from my seat; I found myself sitting on the floor, next to my seat. I felt OK, but
wondered what I'd missed. Was I unconscious for a long time? Just a minute or two, maybe?
My friends insisted on taking me to the emergency room. I didn't raise a fuss, even though I'd been feeling better all morning - prior to the passing-out, it seemed like the cold was lifting, except for a lingering trace of the funny taste to the one cigarette I'd smoked earlier. We paid the bill for the meal, and rode to the hospital.
After taking care of the formalities of signing in and providing insurance info, I waited to see a doctor. The breathing trouble was back, and by the time I went into the doctor's room, it was bad. I'd had a couple of emergencies as a kid, on trips to the mountains, when my asthma would leave me gasping for air and I'd have to get adrenaline shots to restore my breathing. I thought the asthma (termed "childhood asthma") was pretty much a thing of the past, though a years-later mountain camping trip with a
girlfriend was marred by some severe nighttime attacks. I'd packed some Primatene Mist for that trip, just in case; I'm glad I did. I still keep an eye out for drug stores when I drive through the mountains, just in case.
Now I'm wondering if I'll live through this; my breathing has become worse than those previous attacks, and I'm thinking I'm at death's door. The doctor has to talk me into some semblance of calm, since the anxiety is probably making things worse. I get examined; I get some shots,
presumably of adrenaline. And when the shots fail to provide instant relief, I get more lectures about staying calm, since every series of too-short breaths triggers "I'm not gonna make it" thoughts in my mind.
It turns out that I had pneumonia, probably caught when I was playing and walking in the rain while tripping - my first acid trip in a long time, with a hit-and-a-half of blotter given to me as a present. I guess the combination of an acid-depressed immune system and the time spent in the rain may have caused it. It would be weeks before cigarettes tasted normal again.