This piece is part of Fighting for Our Lives: The Movement for Medicare for All, a Truthout original series. I came out of it for the first time in near darkness, couldn't lift my arms, couldn't lift my legs, couldn't rise to a sitting position, and there was a breathing mask over my nose and mouth methodically forcing air down my throat. I quickly learned to inhale with its rhythm. I had no idea where or when I was. Suddenly there was a bright light in my eyes and then faces, faces, barely visible, hands touching and voices murmuring too low to comprehend. Someone fiddled with the IV in my left hand and I floated away again. I had been sick for weeks -- months, actually, if you include the pernicious insomnia -- and had finally grown tired of waiting for the thing to clear itself up. My respiration sounded like a gravel truck in low gear, I had no wind, and I was falling asleep standing up multiple times a day. You know the old joke about passing out at your keyboard and typing "qqqqqqqqqqqqq" with your face? I did that twice. I took myself to the emergency room, waited the requisite number of hours, was checked out in preliminary fashion, and was finally given an IV bag of orange fluid, basically Pedialyte for adults taken intravenously. That is the last thing I remember before waking up in that delirious near-dark last month.
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