Republished from my previously published Yahoo Contributor Network article originally posted on July 8, 2010.
A current asthma attack triggered this memory: I had the pleasure of entering an emergency room one full moon day because I was having an asthma attack. Until you have experienced the electric energy that surrounds and penetrates each person in an emergency room on a full moon, you have not yet fully lived.
Back in the mid 1970s I worked at Billings Hospital. Lucky for me I worked in the lobby next to the emergency room, because every cold winter morning, I began my day there on my way to the office - not working, but receiving shots of epinephrine and aminophylline after having walked the distance from one end of the Midway Plaisance at the University of Chicago to the other. Since the age of five, asthma has been a problem for me and cold winter air constricts my lungs to a point where I cannot breathe.
During my time at Billings Hospital I befriended a couple of ER doctors who used to tell me about the lunatics they knew would be visiting them every full moon and about how they would mentally prepare themselves for those crazy full moon days. I had to wonder though - can you really prepare for lunacy?
Before I explain to you what happened to me that full moon morning, I should explain a little about the word, lunatic, as it relates to the moon. A Lunar Cycle consists of 29.53059 days. The Full Moon is a phase of the moon in which the illuminated portion of the moon is visible to observers.
Lunar cycles have been credited with causing humans to shape-shift into werewolves of super-human strength. It is my belief, after my experience in the ER that full moon day, that shape-shifters do indeed exist and they periodically visit emergency rooms - on days and nights of the full moon. Let me now tell you why.
On this particular full moon morning, the emergency room was already packed - so packed, in fact, that people were on gurneys in the hallway. I was on one of those gurneys sucking in oxygen, which wasn't helping. As I attempted to draw air into my lungs and looked around at what appeared to be an insane asylum, I searched my co-workers' eyes with a silent plea to get to me first. They were too busy to notice.
A wild-eyed crazy looking woman sat on the gurney across from me. Her penetrating stare was unnerving me. I tried to ignore her, but her bulging eyes looked as if they would explode from her head at any moment.
The odd gyrations and unsettling stares of everybody else around me made me feel even more uncomfortable. The man next to me was playing with himself while humming, and I was surrounded by several other looney bird patients, who were either sitting or lying on their gurneys, lost in their own little worlds, probably escapees from the mental ward.
My uneasiness made my asthma symptoms worse and the oxygen was having no effect at all. My wheezing worsened.
As I continued to attempt to breathe in oxygen until doctors could administer the drugs that would help me breathe, I was painfully aware of how much time was going by. I needed to get to work, but I needed to be able to breathe first. And I needed to get away from what could only be described as the real Dawn of the Dead cast.
The wait was long that morning and the wild-eyed woman across from me became so agitated because nobody took immediate care of her, that she started screaming. "If somebody doesn't f'ing take care of me I'm gonna f'ing kill all of you!" Like a scene out of The Exorcist, her head spun in every direction until it settled upon me. "Starting with that f'ing bi*ch over there sucking on that machine."
I felt my lungs constrict even tighter. Back then anybody could have walked into an emergency room carrying a gun. Was she holding one? I didn't know. Would she leap from her gurney onto mine and attack me?
If you know anything about asthmatics, you know not to escalate their emotional well-being. My emotions went into overdrive as my eyes matched hers in bulginess (yes, I made up that word).
I sucked harder and prayed that I was just experiencing a mad hallucination.
One of my co-workers finally removed me from the hallway and brought me into a room. "Yes, it's another full moon," she sighed. "Approximately every 29 days, all the crazies find their way into the ER, and it becomes a loony bin in here."
So what did that make me? I prayed I would never get another asthma attack on a full moon day. So far I've been lucky.
The next time you consider visiting an emergency room, check the Moon Phases by clicking the link. You will know when NOT to visit one. Or, if you are curious about the lunacy that takes place in an ER during a full moon, go, but beware!
(Except for the part about the woman's head spinning like Linda Blair's character's head did in The Exorcist, everything in this story was true.)