Wednesday, March 13, 2019


Dateline: Tuesday, March 12, 2019

I've been writing about the hazards of life in prison for over thirty years, but never have I come closer to the Grim Reaper collecting me than what happened a few hours ago.

After I came back from my "Small Business Management" class in the library this morning, I opened a package of roasted peanuts for a snack. I rarely go to the five a.m. breakfast, and by the time they call lunch at one-thirty or two p.m., I'm hungry. I sat on my bunk, opened a book to read, and began chewing a few peanuts.

When I tried to swallow the peanuts, they seemed to clog my throat, not going down. I tried to drink a sip of water, but it only worsened. It was like glue. I tried to cough, but my breathing passage was suddenly, totally blocked. I tried to inhale. I couldn't take a breath. I could only wheeze. My distress sounds got several prisoners' attention, and I hand-signaled to one to call the officer, I couldn't breathe, get medical. I signalled for another, a young Mexican, to pound on my back, to try to dislodge the blockage, to no avail.

The officer called "medical emergency" on her radio, said someone wasn't breathing. A group of administrators and officers conduct a weekly dorm inspection, going in and out of every housing area, checking everything. Fortunately for me, the group was in the building next door, on their way to my dorm. When the officer called for assistance, Lt. Carter ran in the building a minute later.

It had already been two or three minutes, and I felt myself on the verge of unconsciousness. I knew that if I passed out, I was dead. I pointed to my throat, can't breathe. Lt. Carter turned me around, locked his arms around my chest and diaphragm, and did the Heimlich maneuver at least ten times. I coughed up phlegm and chewed peanuts, coughed some more, and inhaled. Air! Never did it taste so sweet. Lt. Carter saved me.

I told him thanks, I was okay. I wasn't, but I was a lot better. I could breathe. Two prisoners helped me walk to medical. Two nurses with a wheelchair met us halfway. They checked my vitals, cleared me, and I slowly walked back to the dorm. They told me we'd passed our inspection.

Hours later, my ribs are sore, but I'll take sore ribs over not breathing any day. I skipped lunch, having lost my appetite, but recovered enough to conduct my two-hour Parole Planning Workshop this afternoon.

I've said for years that I must be in prison for a reason, to bear witness to a world hidden from free society. Christian friends repeatedly tell me God has a plan for my life. I thought for sure He was calling me home today.

Over thirty years ago, as the president of our Jaycees chapter, I arranged for the training officer to teach a CPR class for the members. Within a year, two of our certified CPR graduates resuscitated two stricken prisoners. I'm sure they were grateful that our Jaycees learned their lessons well. With that in mind, and in light of my experience, I am going to suggest that prison officials institute CPR and Heimlich classes.

I gave away my remaining peanuts.


 Charlie & Libby with Christian friends, Glen & Judi Gott,
two of many who are faithful friends praying for Charlie;
thank you, friends: your prayers work! Our Charlie was saved.

1 comment:

Sakurajimaportal said...

Glad you’re still alive Charlie...hopefully you will get your freedom.