His manifests in a similar way to mine, or at least he experiences the symptom eventually. Coughing and coughing and coughing that just won't stop, barely time to catch your breath just to cough it out again- a suffocating feeling, the inability to get oxygen because the wind is forced out of you before you can get any good out of it. Sometimes it's over in a few minutes. Sometimes, it takes hours.
At least I know how to treat it. For me, it's my fast-acting asthma inhaler. But for more mild attacks, caffeine- especially in the form of Coca-Cola. (It was originally a cough syrup, after all.) His was far from mild, but I can't give someone else my medicine. What I did have was a supply of Coca-Cola, so I grabbed one, rinsed the top of the can off (soda tastes better without the lid's shelf dust), and yelled through the door of his room, where he'd moved to; he had previously been in the bathroom, spitting out phlegm. "Hey, I've got something that can help you out of this." I'd previously asked if he was going to be okay, or if he needed help, but got no response; he responded this time, and I handed him the soda.
"Drink this. I know it's a weird time for it, but you sound like I do when I get into asthma trouble; caffeine helps within ten minutes." That was a double lie, but never where it mattered. My asthma attacks are worse than his- he didn't have as much force behind his coughing. And caffeine helps almost immediately, it doesn't even take that long- but by leading him to expect it to take longer, its kicking in sooner will be processed as a sign that it's a very potent remedy, and suddenly a very real cure is boosted significantly by the placebo effect.
He'd been coughing nearly nonstop for half an hour- he'd had some coughing fits before, but never that bad.
It stopped within two minutes. I suspect he's asleep by now; this was over an hour ago.
Smoking is going to kill him, and it's going to kill him sooner rather than later. I can't just let this slide without mentioning it, but throwing the idea at him and pestering him about it isn't going to do me any good either. I guess I'll just bring it up tomorrow morning- explain how his coughing fit was a milder version of what happens if I get exposed to cigarette smoke (not an exaggeration; it's an immediate and serious reaction for me) for even a short time, and there are quite a few things that can make me ill although not usually to that extent- almost all perfume, for example, and all other forms of smoke. I'll let him ask questions from there- because if he doesn't want to hear it, there's nothing I can do.
I just hope he'll be okay.
By the way, I made the right choice not to confront him. Did you know that anti-dandruff shampoo, to the untrained, smells like pot? That is some nasty stink-ass shit.