December, 2014

“I Can’t Breathe!”

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

“I Can’t Breathe!”

i. Heimlich Maneuver

Last night, while eating a chicken caesar salad with green olives that I added myself, I suddenly started to choke. My panic choked me, too. I couldn’t draw in a breath. I swallowed water which made it worse. I couldn’t breathe. Then I stood up and pointed to Luke and then pointed to my throat. He immediately understood. He followed me to the kitchen sink and as I gasped for air, he performed the Heimlich Maneuver on me. It took a couple of presses with his strong hands under my sternum before the food dislodged from my throat and disappeared into the garbage disposal. I breathed in oxygen like a dying man.

In the silence, I could hear the rain falling outside. San Diego’s first winter storm.

Luke and I walked into the bedroom, sat down next to each other on the edge of the bed. And it hit me. Could I have saved myself if Luke hadn’t been home?

“You saved my life.”

I rested my face against Luke’s chest and sobbed. He wrapped his arms around me. We vibrated with emotion for a long time.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

ii. Choke Hold

The tape shows a white New York police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, harassing a black man, Eric Garner, in Staten Island, for the crime of, now let me get this correct, selling individual cigarettes, not packs, but 1, 2, 3 cigarettes.

Then, out of nowhere, Officer Daniel Pantaleo puts Eric Garner in a choke hold, which is illegal, and lands him on the ground.

Eric Garner pleads that he can’t breathe,

“I can’t breathe.”

He pleads until he disappears into unconsciousness. This does not bother Officer Daniel Pantaleo or his fellow officers who have shown up and circled Eric Garner’s body in force, paying no more attention to him dying than a housefly stuck between a screen and the window. I watched one officer on the tape wander off toward his patrol car, as if nothing important was happening. This, THIS, while Eric Garner lies on the pavement, dying.

Today, after considering all the evidence, the Staten Island Grand Jury decided not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo or any of his cohorts for murder even for the lesser charge of manslaughter, even after the Coroner ruled Eric Garner’s death a homicide.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

iii. Choke Hold


Heimlich Maneuver