Huffing Duraflame

I work at a small community theater on the weekends, Hillbarn, as a house manager. Basically that means I make sure the lobby is ready for the audience, I supervise ushers, make sure coffee and concessions are ready for intermission, keep the bathrooms tidy, and similar stuff like that. Hillbarn used to have a tradition where during intermission, there was a fire going in the firepit in the courtyard. This season, they have decided to revive that tradition, and so before the show, I throw a duraflame log into the firepit and light it up.
Well, those things are super smoky. They aren’t so bad when they are flaming, but basically a duraflame log is a brick of flammable chemical sludge. It doesn’t turn to ash as it burns, like wood does, so it is not self snuffing. A wood fire (in a properly contained environment), when presented with wind, will stop flaming and be a pile of ash and coals and unburned matter. A duraflame log, when presented with wind, will stop flaming and become a pile of very very very smoky smoldering chemicals. A wood fire, if you blow on the coals, will generally start flaming again. A duraflame log, when you blow on it, just produces more smoke, which I discovered when I tried to blow on it. Eventually I lit a piece of scrap paper and got it to flame again for a bit, but not before I had breathed in plenty o’ burned chemical smoke.
My throat burned for the rest of the night, but not any more than it would from inhaling a bit of wood smoke. Yesterday morning when I woke up, my throat was really burning and my lungs hurt when I breathed. Breathing is an involuntary action- you don’t think about it, you just do it. So, when you can feel your lungs, thats generally a bad thing. Knowing that I had probably breathed in some pretty nasty stuff, I figured a trip to the ER was warranted, and I now have an inhaler to use 4 times a day, and I have to see my regular doctor next week.
It’s funny how scents and tastes bring back memory- the inhaler tastes just like Elmer’s glue smells. And (TMI AND GROSS TO FOLLOW) the crap it makes me cough up out of my lungs tastes just like that cherry liquid penicillin you take as kids, and you know that flavor is imprinted permanently on us all… Thankfully the damage seems mininmal and it won’t take long to heal. YUCK.

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