“911, what is your emergency?” (graphic)

Some of this is just the gist of my recollection, not necessarily verbally accurate to every word spoken to me.

Some of this is 100% precise thoughts and words and deeds – mostly mine.

Overall, though, generalization and sequence should be enough to put you there, with me.

When the operator answered, I was momentarily stunned; marveling at the accuracy of every stereotypical dramatic portrayal of a 911 operator.

“911 – what is your emergency?”

I wasn’t expecting that.

“911 – what is your emergency?”

I wasn’t particularly panicked, but I was absolutely emphatic. “I can’t wake my husband up. I’ve shaken him and yelled in his ear, but I can’t wake him up.”

“Is he breathing?”

I put my ear to his chest.

“Are you still there?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said. “I’m trying to listen….”

“Do you know CPR?”

“Yes, I think so… but you’ll have to remind me….”

She urged me toward mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, instead.

“OK, tilt his head back.”

“I can’t,” I said. “His head won’t move.”

“Put your hand under his head, and push up on the back of his neck.”

“That’s not working, either,” I said.

“Is his mouth open?”

“Not really,” I reported. “Well, I mean, a little… like normal sleep…not closed, but you know, not open.”

It was explained to me that I was going to have to open his mouth in order to breathe my breath into him. I wasn’t sure how to do that, so I awkwardly tried to ease his lips apart.

“I can’t,” I said. “It won’t open.”

“Try putting your hand in his mouth and pulling down” she suggested.

I inserted two fingertips and squeamishly applied pressure to his bottom teeth.

“It won’t move,” I reported. Exasperated with frustration, I raised my voice to make the situation clearer. “Nothing is working!”

“Is he breathing?” she asked, again.

“I don’t know!” I repeated. “I can’t tell.”

“Do you have a mirror? Can you go find a mirror?”

“Yes,” I said, but I didn’t move.

I stood there, frozen, scanning with my eyes. Head to toes and toes to head and head to toes. Panicked bubbled up as I almost came to grips with reality.

“Are you still there? Did you get the mirror?”

“Yes,” I said, even though I hadn’t left his side.

Instructed to hold the mirror to his lips and watch for condensation fog, I must have registered some part of the truth, at that point.

While I instinctively knew what the mirroring result would be, I also concluded we were wasting time.

I needed to try something else. Something powerful.

Something with enough impact to prove what I didn’t really want proven.

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