Yesterday I saved some dummy’s life. In a two-hour CPR class I learned that “CPR is violent.” This, the instructor’s first sentence, was startling. The compression it takes to keep blood flowing to the brain can cause injuries but, as per his handout, “While this can be bad, it is not worse than the patient’s current condition.” (Carol stifles an inappropriate laugh.) I learned exactly how the heart works. I learned what death looks like. Shocking to me was that many women die because someone’s afraid to touch their bare breasts. What, really? This particular class was a good choice because the instruction was vivid and memorable. The instructor had been at this for a long time and was clearly meant for the stage.

The practice: Choose a dummy off a graveyard of half-bodies in the corner. Put it on the floor and kneel facing it. With elbows locked and hands stacked over the center of the chest, thrust your full body weight straight down until you depress it 2 inches. 30 rapid pumps, pause to blow 2 gentle breaths to make lungs inflate, 30 more pumps and so on. “Keeping the brain alive is the most important thing here.” he repeated. I just can’t imagine being able to do this — two pumps per second — for the 10 minutes it might take EMT’s to arrive.

The instructor seemed pleased to have my husband and I in his class and right away offered us the table to practice on instead of the cement floor. “We’re going to get up and down a lot today,” he said as if we were 90. We declined but, clearly, we looked a lot older than we feel!

My daughter pushed me to learn CPR because her parents are getting older, but I really don’t know what she’s talking about!!! However, I’m grateful she did because peace of mind is worth much more than a measley two hours out of my life. I did learn the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared” when I was 10 and in scouting, but it never seemed as real to me as during this class. It makes sense that more of us know what to do when someone takes a dive. Encountering this crisis is slim because I’m not out in the public everyday, but it feels good to know more than to dial 911.

I have to confess that something weird happened to me during the rapid pace of fake CPR. I felt something expected — emotion. This seemed impossible given the plastic torso and all, but nonetheless there was that familiar lump growing in my throat. Maybe I was just really into it? I don’t know.

My CPR day really kicked me in the butt. It’s become easier and easier over the years to slowly drift from one day to the next; no one’s looking over my shoulder, and a paycheck isn’t involved. But my brain is becoming quite sloth-like and I don’t want to have regrets, like “Oops, should’ve learned that!”

Weeded out this week: Complacency. S**t happens and sometimes I freeze up when emergencies happen. Ignoring it won’t make it go away, and it’s a relief knowing I’ll be more prepared than I used to be. And, learning a new skill feels great.