Coughing Fits (a hospital poem)

Florida Hospital Altamonte 1 - Emergency Room


Having a hard time walking up stairs.
Always giving out of breath when I walk upstairs to outdoor rooftop bars.
Always giving out of breath when I walk upstairs in downtown parking garages.

Had a nasty cold recently.
Thought it went away.
Yet, nasty cold returns.

Can’t sleep on my back.
Sleeping on my back causes coughing.

Soon the day arrives where I cough all day.
Coughing prevents me from sleeping.

Over-the-counter medications won’t stop coughing.
Still can’t sleep
Sleep is all I ask for.
Coughing continues.

Forced to make decision I had been avoiding, going to the hospital.
Driving myself to the emergency room.
And don’t have any damned money or insurance.
Reasons why I avoided going to the hospital in the first place.

Hospital finds pneumonia, high blood pressure, gout and high cholesterol.


Everyday eating nasty-tasting hospital food.
Texting one of the owners of the three nightspots I photograph.
Telling him I’m in the hospital, and may remain here for a long time.
Filling out financial assistance paperwork.
Visits from different specialists.
Visits from friends.
Visits from relatives.

“Dang, Pat,” one relative says. “I didn’t know you drink like that.”

This after witnessing me telling doctor I drink booze four to five times a week.
Plus during these times, I consume up to six or more drinks.
Mostly beer.

“Now, Pat,” another relative says. “High blood pressure is what killed yo’ mama. That’s what caused her stroke.”

Facebook friends worrying when they see my posts and selfies.

Thinking about ex’s smiling face.
Recently realized no telling when she was divorcing her husband.
No telling if she ever would.
Told me excuses for why she couldn’t divorce him in the past.
One of them was husband having two powerful lawyers.
If ex never divorced her husband?
Time would’ve been wasted waiting for her.
Finally, closing the chapter on her.

Needles drawing blood from my veins every night.
Sometimes, blood can’t be drawn.
Because of that, needles jabbing into my veins two and three more times for blood.

Stayed in hospital for a whole week.

After release?
Prescribed medication causing me serious drowsiness.
Ambulance drives me back to the hospital.

Another night of needles draining blood.
Another night of needles jabbing my veins two and three more times for blood.

Doctor reduces my medication.
Released again.

And hoping I’ll never ever see another fuckin’ hospital bed.

A poem from the book Three Orlando Nightspots.  Available on

About Patrick Scott Barnes

Most of Central Florida knows Stone Crazy (Patrick Scott Barnes) as a poet. Yet, he also photographs, DJ and blogs. The rest of the time, the now sober blogger guzzles Diet Coke in Central Florida nightspots.
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6 Responses to Coughing Fits (a hospital poem)

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