Mark Johnson
3 min readMay 28, 2022

I knew I was in for a stay in the hospital longer than I was familiar with, and I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t longer than needed. As the day-to-day routine became normal, admits the slow dripping I.V.s feeding antibiotics and fluids into my body nonstop, I became anxious to see the next step in attacking this pneumonia.

Every few hours, I was doing a breathing treatment, a foggy steroid-filled mist of medicine I inhaled and breathed out for over ten minutes. This treatment was used to help break up the mucus build-up in my lungs. Then I would do two breathing exercises on separate devices.

One was called the Aerobika oscillating PEP device. I would take a breath out as a sub-sonic vibration coming from the device would vibrate the passageway of my lungs, loosening the mucus. With the following device, called a Spirometer, I would inhale as much as I could, raising the level of the floating meter inside the device, showing me to what capacity I was filling my lungs. This routine soon became a competition for me to see if I could improve on my last effort each time.

This sort of thinking kept my mind in a good growth space as I regularly asked questions about the long-term effects of pneumonia on someone in my condition. That became my daily routine and a few hours of T.V. and meals before anything significant happened.

As dinner was about to be served, I also saw how the day shift would make its final rounds. If there was anything I needed, I had to have them do it, as once the night shift was up and running, it was hard to get someone to help.

I mean, I get it; if you are the type that can’t sleep during the day or for some reason your circadian rhythm is out of wack, working a night shift might suit you. Also, being most patients are asleep at night, an entire staff of nurses and CNAs doesn’t make sense overnight, which would be a reason for the lack of numbers.

That being said, I was still having issues with my stomach, and for some reason, my caths were not working as they should, making me concerned that come night time, I’d have an issue that wouldn’t get the attention needed. This issue wasn’t merely a concern, and it soon became a reality night after night.

Dealing with the fact I wasn’t sleeping was one thing, but knowing you needed help and weren’t getting it was another. One night an alarm went off or something alerting all those available gets to this one patient. You could hear the commotion of staff rushing around, and I’d assume the patient yelling, “Get your fucking hands off of me!” warning them what he’d do if they didn’t listen.

Most nights were not that wild, just sleepless or minimal moments of shuteye. I was still fearful of coughing fits that would trigger Flem and mucus coming up, but I soon learned to have the suction device ready to do it myself.

When I found myself awake, looking to relax my mind, I would turn on the T.V. and watch a channel where it showed tropical locations like Hawaii nonstop with soothing music playing. That would help usher me into a moment of rest till something else would awake me.

Due to medication and a few nights of little sleep in my delirium, I felt that the medical devices were making music. It was their hums, hisses, and beeps, and I even wrote a song verse in my head to the music I was hearing.

All of this was happening as they admitted a new patient into my room. The patient’s doctor spoke to someone on the phone with an African accent. That was probably the weirdest night I had, only to have some trying days ahead.

Thanks for reading this piece. Please keep a lookout for the continuation of this story in pt. 5 Also check out how we got here in pt. 1 IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO GO THIS WAY




Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a University of Chico graduate, a lover of the creative arts, avid photographer, with an undying entrepreneurial spirit.