This post will get nasty. Don’t read it if you get the willies easily.
At six o’clock in the morning, I woke up coughing. This has become a recent trend for me, these morning fits of my lungs revolting. I rolled onto my side, hoping that the shift in gravity would bring peace enough for another hour of sleep. The bear had found his way from his side of the bed to mine in the night, and he patted my chest as the coughing continued. For five minutes, it went on, until I was forced to accept that I’d have to sit up and give the coughing a worthy effort. So much for my extra hour of sleep.
I sat up and kicked my feet off the side of the bed, happy that I remembered to set the timer on my thermostat to start at six instead of seven. Then I coughed. And I coughed. And I coughed, so hard that I started gagging. Once I started gagging, I couldn’t stop. Stumbling/Crawling into the bathroom, I gripped the Porcelain God as if I’d been on an all-night drinking spree. Gagging, coughing, and gasping for breath, I started to notice that there were little pink and black chunks coming out of my mouth. I looked over at the bear, and he sat there looking back at me, in silent judgment.
“I’m coughing up a lung, Teddy,” I laughed. “Or maybe bits of stomach.”
Teddy did not reply, rather he simply narrowed his eyes. I was about to offer another witty quip because, let’s be honest, it’s the one thing I do better than anything else in the world, when the next wave of coughing and gagging beset me. This time there was no mercy. I couldn’t breathe from all the air and pink and black bits that my body was forcing out. It wouldn’t take anything in. This was it. I was going to die naked and alone in my bathroom, just as I’d always feared. Unable to breathe, the edges of my vision started to darken and I got that coppery taste on my tongue that always precedes losing consciousness. I don’t know how I managed to do it between the coughing and retching, but I actually started laughing. And then I passed out.
When I came to, I looked in the next room and met the bear’s eyes. He had just set the phone down. There would be no need to call 911 today. We sat there, looking at one another, for probably ten minutes, neither of us speaking.
“I’m done, Teddy,” I croaked. “No more cigarettes.”
Wisely, he kept his opinion to himself.