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She Took My Breath Away
A Thumbnail of Dr. Mona Minkara's image Mona Minkara - December 09, 2016
A picture of the top of a green bush at night. On top of the bush is a pink neon sign that spells Breathe in cursive letters.

Life was good. In the fall semester of my last year at Wellesley, Pam and I sat down for dinner in my dorm room. We sat by the window because my view was amazing. Hopes were high, and it was our last year of school. Of course, life has a way of balancing out the calm, and today this took the shape of a very scary incident.

We were in the middle of eating our dinner. So, Pam had pork for dinner, and I was eating halal food (like kosher, but for Muslims!) because, as you all probably know, Muslims do not eat pork. We were chatting and eating, but soon, I heard Pam banging on the table. That was strange… “Pam, what’s going on?” I asked. Silence. “Pam?”

There was no response, and the banging made me realize something was perhaps amiss. So I looked, and Pam had her hands around her neck; the universal sign of choking.

Now, as you may know, my readers, people choking can’t talk; can’t breathe. Not that loud coughing that many movies and shows show, but REAL choking.

And that’s when I put two and two together and started to freak out! I scanned through my brain for knowledge, and tried to remember what a Heimlich entails. As I did that, Pam stood up and began to walk around. I believe she was trying to do the Heimlich on herself on the back of her chair.

“Pam, wait! I can do this!” I yelled and, without thinking, stood up and placed my arms around her. I placed my fist on her abdomen, and began the maneuver, and…

…nothing happened.

Oh great, now I was panicking.

But, I decided I would give it one more try before calling 911. With all of my might, and without worrying about pushing too hard, I tried again!

The food flew out, and Pam doubled over. The sweet relief of hearing her breathing reached my ears.




I can’t believe that just happened. Soon, Pam caught her breath and said, “Thanks, Mona.” Now, this all happened in about the span of two seconds; I was breathing heavily and still jittery. “Of course, Pam. No need,” I responded. 

And then, she said one of the funniest things I’ve heard somebody say in a life-or-death situation:

“That’s what I get for eating pork!”