The Last Sequence: Suffocation is a horrible feeling

(This article was written by Rogelio last year. He refers to it in Day 34 of his Journal — JRP)

SODIUM THIOPENTAL. Pancuronium Bromide. Potassium Chloride. Most Americans never have to think of these alphabetical soup words. But I do, for these are the chemicals administered to those executed in Texas and are just as lethal as a bowl of poisonous soup. These tongue-twisting chemicals will be death to me as soon as the State of Texas has its way.

 Because I would rather know the truth and be informed of the method and sequence of the final moments of my life, I look these words over, hoping to uncover what they truly mean. I wonder how it will feel, when they do their job, and what words will escape my lips.

I cannot say what thoughts will dominate the moment. Right now, however, Sodium Thiopental comes to mind. An ultra short-acting barbiturate, it is the first chemical used in the sequence of execution. Once it is administered, I will lose consciousness.

Medically, Sodium Thiopental is used to induce, rather than maintain, anesthesia during surgery. Unless it somehow fails, it will render me unconscious and I will be unaware of my surroundings. Pancuronium Bromide, the second lethal chemical to enter my bloodstream, will paralyze my muscles entirely and collapse my respiratory system. My body will sense the flood of chemicals and struggle, helplessly, to fight them off. Gasping several times, my lungs will collapse. I will be in the process of dying. Potassium Chloride, the final and fatal lethal chemical to be administered, will cause a massive heart attack. It will take only nine minutes for these chemicals to perform their assigned tasks. When they do, I will then be pronounced dead.

I have sat and thought about this sequence of events that will lead to the end of me, physically. I’ve also considered what I could possibly experience during every stage of the execution. What I know is that on my appointed day of execution, I will be strapped to the gurney in Texas’ death chamber. The sequence will begin and whatever thoughts will be racing through my mind should slowly fade as the first chemicals take effect and I lose consciousness.

If you could be there to witness this, I would appear to you to be peacefully asleep. Looks, however, can be deceiving. Recently, I read a sworn statement by Dr. Mark Heath, an anesthesiologist, concerning these chemicals. He stated Sodium Thiopental will crystallize once it comes into contact with pancuronium bromide. What this means is that I would suddenly wake as the paralyzing chemical takes effect. Awake, I will be fully aware yet unable to express the agony my body must surely be feeling.

Suffocation is a horrible feeling. Imagine yourself desperately trying to breathe while unable to even budge. It would appear to you that I am peacefully asleep, but the moment that I gasp, my body will be frantically fighting for survival. For me, time will take on the appearance of nonexistence.

A slow, torturous execution will be unfolding before your unknowing eyes, if you can still see me peacefully asleep. Lastly, and not uncruelly, the third chemical activates all the nerve fibers in the veins, delivering the maximum amount of pain possible, as it firmly takes hold of my heart and stops it completely.

This, then, is the truth of it: when the time comes, these will be the final sequence of events in this condemned man’s life. 

— Rogelio Reyes Cannady


4 Responses to “The Last Sequence: Suffocation is a horrible feeling”

  1. Françoise Says:

    What could be added to the integral Horror?
    Nothing else but silence.
    Love and prayers from Françoise

  2. jenna orkin Says:

    The death penalty is murder whitewashed in legal lingo; it is sanctioned vigilanteasm. In resorting to it, the state capitulates to the basest instincts of its citizens.

    The law is supposed to reflect the best that is in us collectively; it’s not supposed to realize an individual victim’s bloodlust for revenge, however justifiable that desire might be.

  3. Rachel Says:

    Y’know what? I know a bit about these chemicals, and although there is a rationale behind the sequence – there really is no justification for it to my mind. Why use a combination of the three, where there is a risk of a torturous death, when an overdose of a long acting barbiturate (such as used to euthanase animals) would achieve their ‘final result’ just as effectively?

    I know there has been a challenge to the consitutionality of the lethal injection in the past, but I really feel that it needs revisiting. In my opinion, the USA need to abolish capital punishment, but if they’re not going to – they should at least make sure it’s humane.

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