When someone says, “I can’t breathe!” It means, “I CAN’T BREATHE!”

Naming names…

Late in the first decade of the 21st century,  I was assaulted by  nursing staff at the Hartford Hospital Emergency Room while alone in a single room with walls and a door, not just a curtained -off cubicle. Male nurses jumped on me to restrain me for a forced injection of Haldol. When I objected and struggled, one man put his hands around my neck and squeezed. I was very frightened and my eyeballs felt the pressure, and I couldn’t breathe. I said to the nurse who was positioning the needle, “I can’t breathe!” She clearly heard me because she looked over her shoulder at me and at the nurse who had his hands on my neck in a strangulation hold. She said, nonchalantly, “You’re okay…” But the thing is, I was not okay. I could NOT breathe! Understanding that the man strangling me would not stop as long as I was struggling, I decided my only chance lay in going completely limp, which I did  at once…and as he felt this under his knees and hands, he let go…I stayed limp and barely breathing until they were satisfied that the Haldol had been injected and I was not struggling. When the man who had been strangling me left, he leaned in near my ear and hissed, “That will teach you a lesson!” For the next half hour I lay there, unmoving and too terrified to make a complaint fearing he would come back and finish the job.

Psychiatric take down and restraint


I woke up the next morning at the Institute of Living (which i had objected to being  sent to, because of past abusive treatment there). I immediately tried to tell the interviewing doctor what they had done, but he just yawned and ignored all that I said. And as no legal services had ever been provided me though I had asked numerous times, I did not have any legal person to resort to and get help.

i was similarly assaulted by security guards at New Britain General Hospital, aka Hospital of Central Connecticut  in 2014, when they were ordered by a nurse to strip me naked and place me in seclusion… when I objected they restrained me in 4 points, and proceeded to strangle me while restrained in order to let the nurse inject three punishment drugs in my naked buttocks. When I told the chief psychiatrist Dr Michael E Balkunas afterwards what happened he clearly knew how bad it was as he said, “my nurses would NEVER do such a thing. You are lying.”  But of course I was not lying, though I did not feel that it was worth saying anything more to him, a sadist, so I simply walked away.

Pam In restraints at New Britain Hospital In CT in 2014
P. in Restraints in New Britain Hospital In May 2014


Later on, in 2015, I was assaulted by another ER nurse, Michael Colbeth, RN, in Randolph VT and my complaints were utterly ignored…the police took a report, yes, but ONLY from the nurse. They explicitly refused to so much as talk to me. Michael Colbeth was only charged with assault and my story more or less believed after the police chief checked the videotape, that was recorded only because the incident happened in the front entrance. I may post this video as I believe no one is identified. But am not sure if it is viewable.

My point is one that all police and medical staff MUST learn and understand, that when someone says “I can’t breathe” it is true! I suspect they are TAUGHT to believe otherwise, because when someone is beginning to choke while eating, but can talk, they are usually fine or at least such is what we are told…. But this is NOT the case when someone is unable to breathe due to outside pressure like the knee on George Floyd’s neck or the hands encircling my throat.


4 thoughts on “When someone says, “I can’t breathe!” It means, “I CAN’T BREATHE!””

  1. Hi Linda Lady Quixote, yes it is insane! I really do think that they have taken the idea that if you are COUGHING and choking on food or if you can breathe or can talk then you are not choking on food really and truly and decided that this also applies to strangulation by manual or other means, like a knee on the neck… people need to be RE-INSTRUCTED about this, as it is simply not true! Indeed, I wonder if it is even true about someone who is choking on food? But in any event, when a person is being sat on or strangled by the hands or actions of another, if he or she says I CANT BREATHE, it is essential that this be seen a signal to STOP whatever is happening so the person can breathe!


  2. Dear Phoebe, I am so mad and sad that these things happened to you. I have also been attacked and choked. I could not breathe, and I said “I can’t breathe!” People who say “If you can talk, you can breathe” are ignorant. They should try it. Don’t breathe in, and see if you can’t still say “I can’t breathe.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Rosemary. I appreciate your comment! I dunno if you ever knew but I changed my name a few years ago to phoebe sparrow Wagner (phoebe sparrow being what I called myself inside for years)

    The psychiatric system is crooked to the max and it is only worse now, I am sure. Luckily I extricated myself back in 2016 so I am outside of it now, but the memories never leave me.


  4. Hi Pam, It’s RoseMary from CT. Your article made me mad. Not at you, but at all the injustices you and others have suffered. What a world we live in now…makes me sad.

    Liked by 1 person

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