Daily Life (In the County)

The makeup of the mod has become considerably more “Caucasian” as of late. We seem to have been overrun by white guys with very long hair and tattoos everywhere. They are quite clique-ish though they strike me as all nice fellows. They all seem to know each other, and their conversations are dominated by friends and girlfriends on the outside.

Every one of them is in here on a drug related charge, some for “dealing” heroin and meth. They seem to take serving time as a negotiation between the system and the lifestyle they’ve chosen. It’s really no big deal to them. It’s just an occupational hazard and the biggest concern is whether they’ll have to cut their hair where they’re going.

They play pinochle during their “unlock” and are more than willing to include everybody. I found that quite positive though I didn’t participate. Cards and board games all seem a waste of time to me. I’m not sure they offer – at this time in my life – any lessons to take with me on my journey.

Even more interesting than the new faces is the evolution of the old ones. Superfly has developed considerably more comfort with his surroundings and the “real” he has started to surface. He is a lot more communicative and the conversations that I can overhear between him and Corey are actually more hilarious than I thought.

Superfly fancies himself a pimp – hence the processed 70’s hair-do on his arrival- but today it is all cut off; and he has now taken it upon himself to teach Corey “the pimp’s code”: “A sucker does what he can, but a pimp does what he wants” is the mantra they keep repeating over and over and over. He’s also taken to mentoring the younger white guys which in itself is a sight to see. They stand around him in anticipation; he is sitting with a lean, partly because of his paralysis and partly because he’s cool. Today he was commenting on how he had talked the doctor into morphine and Vicodin for his pain, a pharmaceutical high he called it, and so he was even more boisterous today.

My bunky didn’t make it to this “unlock” either – choosing to continue to sleep instead. He did put in a request to see the doctor and I can only hope it will be addressed tomorrow. If not, I fear I’ll kill him. On top of all the other things he has going on, his snoring has gotten impossible to tolerate. It is interesting though, to hear the high-pitched whistle when he breathes due to his nasal-septal defect from cocaine abuse. We talk about these kinds of things in medical school but this is the first time I’ve actually seen it in the real world.

Nonetheless, I am interested to see how Corey’s education turns out before they ship him to the mental hospital. Perhaps he’ll turn in to Don Juan Demarco and have all the nurses at the state hospital turning tricks. You just can’t make this stuff up.

I’m studying French and it’s progressing well, but it’s difficult not to be able to talk with someone. One of the guards has a French name. I said something to him in French and he looked at me like I was crazy. When I asked him about being able to speak French, he said, “Hell, no” with a Southern drawl, so I guess that spoke volumes.

Superfly unfortunately learned a few things about morphine this morning. The euphoria he demonstrated at unlock had progressed to nausea by lunch time. It appears that when the drug was out of pain receptors to bind to, it binds the receptors that make you nauseous. And so he spent this “unlock” time bent over the toilet in his room vomiting, not enjoying his high. Everything has a price.

The one thing I continue to have trouble resolving is the posture on the part of my colleagues. These young guys – and perhaps it is precisely because they are young – think nothing of giving up two, three, five or ten years of their life. I looked into the eyes of a twenty-six year-old kid who was just sentenced to 42 years. He’s looking at 70 years of age (actually 68) when he gets out. His life is gone, and he doesn’t even realize it. I’ve got to figure out a way to help these people, to change this. I really don’t think they quite grasp it. The guards do, but the inmates don’t seem to at all.

I saw the doctor today also. My main concern was to get my bunky seen concerning his explosive diarrhea and the fact that he was soiling himself. The doctor picked up on it right away. He had the same concerns I did. The last thing you need in a place like this is bacteria from stool traveling from person to person to person. It would be a mess in 48 hours.

Dr. Kadevari seemed more relaxed than I’ve seen him before, and frankly, that was a good thing. I want so much for people to enjoy their work. I know I didn’t for a long time and it made for an absolute miserable day. We talked a lot about my heart condition, not particularly medically, but the impact it has had on my life.

He thought it was reason enough for me to be out of here, but I assured him that I had never seen it, my congenital heart disease, as a crutch. “In fact,” I added, “I’m pretty lucky to still be here.”

He then commented on the fact that I had been refusing blood draws; he wanted to look at my INR, digoxin level, and uric acid. Not that we were going to do anything differently, but he was right, he needed to know those values.

I shared with him that I can’t take his phlebotomy nurse: she’s too caustic and too unprofessional. I asked her what tests are we running; and her answer was “do you want the test or not?”

It’s bad enough being in here. I prefer to avoid confrontations with simply mean people (and this woman can only be described as an asshole).

“Well,” he said, “I can write for another nurse to draw the blood, or I can talk with her again.”

“No,” I said, “I don’t want to antagonize her further. I’ll work it out.”

“I don’t hire these people,” the doctor said, “they work for the facility, for the County, I’m just a consultant. But I can talk with her again, as I said.”

“No, this is one I need to deal with; it’s only a blood draw. I don’t want her antagonized any further by her thinking I’m telling on her. We should be able to get through that.”

How wrong was I?

The next day the tower notified me that the nurse was here and to get ready to see her. I walked across the day room and waited for the guard to unlock the door. I could see the nurse working at her cart. I took a deep breath. When the guard opened the door, I exhaled, and was determined to share a pleasant experience with this woman.

“Hello,” she said, continuing her preparations, “today we’re going to draw an INR. What’s your name?”

“Adams,” I said.

“And what’s your birthday?”

“April 21st.” So far so good.

“Well, as I said we’re going to do an INR. Are you OK with that?”

“Yes,” I said, and as she continued her preparation, then I said, “You know, I saw the doctor yesterday and he said he also wanted a dig level.” What a mistake on my part.

“Well it’s not written here, and if it’s not here, I don’t’ care about it. And frankly, I wasn’t there so I don’t know what the doctor said. At any rate he didn’t write it.”

“OK, I just wanted you to have that information.”

“Look, I don’t want to have a conversation, so I’m going to shut you down.”

“Shut me down” – I then turned to Officer Powell who was feigning work at his desk about 12 feet away, with his back to the nurse – “what does that mean, shut me down?”

“Like I said I’m not getting into a conversation with you. I’m going to refuse your test myself, so we’re done.”

Powell then walked over toward me and nodded. I got his message and got up from the chair. I turned to the nurse. “You’re supposed to be a professional, you’re the worst. To give you information about a conversation I as the patient had with the doctor isn’t having a conversation with you. It’s passing on medical information. You’re supposed to be a nurse.” Powell opened the door. I told him I needed request forms. He nodded he understood. I continued to my suite.

I was furious with myself – not for what I did – but for what I didn’t do. I should have let the doctor handle it, and I should have let him send a different phlebotomist. The conclusion I just can’t seem to accept is that some people just can’t be be reasoned with. No matter how rational your argument – and by argument I mean explanation not confrontation – they will choose irrationality. I can’t save everybody or every situation.

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