Posts Tagged ‘Rachel’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  It was about 8:30 am when I heard the announcement to report to the officer’s station.  I knew what it was for.  I was going to Madison to get the results of the PET scans from last week to verify the cancer remains in remission.  It was also the first day we saw guard Roscoe Peters since former cellie Andre Charles left.  After giving him the key to my cell off the string around my neck, I went down to intake and again began the process of being strip searched and being bound with chains on my arms, legs and waist.  The thought occurred to me, this is probably the last time prior to my release in June, that I’ll need to be strip searched.  I hope so anyway.  It’s an indignity I’m still not accustomed to nor do I think I ever will be.  Of course, in keeping with what normally seems to happen on these trips for me it’s not…normal!  It was raining very heavy and about 19 miles from Madison on I94W we encountered a huge traffic back up.  We moved no more than 5 or 6 miles over the next hour.  We finally came up on the accident scene.  Fire had consumed a truck carrying thousands of pounds of beef.  I’d hear later no one died thank God.  We got there and I sat in the inmate waiting room.  Very few were there this time which I was grateful for, as the noise was at a minimum.  There was one inmate there who had 57 days left to release.  He’d suffered a cardiac arrest and been brought back by the staff at Red Granite Correctional Institution.  He was complimentary to them in how they’ve cared for him and the quality of their work.  It was unusual to hear an inmate say such things.  I went up for my blood work and got in to see my oncologist, Dr. Rachel Cook.  She walked in and something I hadn’t noticed before, she was very pregnant.  I told her I hoped it went well.  She let me know the spots that were seen last time were either gone or ruled out as cancer.  My next appointment for scans will be in 6 months instead of the 3 months that had been done.  In the midst of the happiness I felt, there was a bit of a reality check.  I needed to call her directly before my next appointment if I don’t come up with health insurance as these scans cost several thousand dollars.  Not only would it be nice if I find a job with good health insurance after I’m out its imperative I find health insurance to ensure I see more birthdays.  It shouldn’t be that way but that is the reality of the situation.  But I didn’t dwell on that. I even told Dr. Cook about this blog, saying a friend wrote in her blog, thanking her for her care of me and what terms to Google to find the blog.  I wanted to avoid alerting the ever present guards in the room.  So Doc, if you find this blog, again, thank you!  On the way back not only was it raining heavy, the winds were going crazy blowing pails and such from construction on the highway into us.  But we got back fine.  After another strip-search I actually got back to my cell pretty quickly.  Ironically we shouldn’t have hurried.  We had Turkey Tetrazzini, probably the worst meal here, for supper about 4:30 pm.  If we’d gone slower I probably would have gotten another bag lunch at the hospital.  But nothing would break my good mood, not even the  horrid food.  I’m healthy and I’m going to stay that way!

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I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  Last night was Monday and it happened to be laundry night but it also was Bible study night sponsored by the unknown group that gave us the gifts Saturday.  But I wanted to go learn more.  It seems quite a few had the same idea as they had to move it out of the smaller room it’s normally held in.  There were 2 leaders who I found out later is called “The Church (In Wisconsin)” of West Allis, WI.  But I get the sense they didn’t want to tell us.  The Bible Study itself was more of a sermon than a study, based on Psalm 118 and Acts 3.  My favorite versus were Psalm 118:17-18 “I will not die but live and will proclaim what the Lord has done.  The Lord has chastened me severely but he has not given me over to death”. While I was in the study, Tom Dietz volunteered to watch my laundry.  I knew I liked that guy!  Unfortunately the beach ball that is my cellie, Andre Charles, bounced the other way.  For whatever reason he has tamed again.  He was upset with me for reasons unknown saying we don’t joke around, we have to be serious.  The next morning at count he said there was a “fagg—– who keeps look at him when he sleeps”.  I didn’t have a clue what he was referring to of course, but the more immediate problem was the name he called me in front of everyone.  Another challenge, this one in public.  But I didn’t do anything.  A guard’s watching and the wrong word ends my time in ERP.  But before we’d go back into the cell, a guard walked up to me and said I was going to the hospital and to get ready to go.  I’m sure I was going to get the cancer test results from the PET scan last week.  But before I left, another cellie Malik Pearl, warned me I was about to find out what Andre is going to do and I better get out of this cell.  I hate to say it cause I’m a little..okay a lot on the stubborn side but I may end up getting out of this cell.  Of course, it was time to go, and of course like always on my road trips, the weather was crappy.  I got to the University Hospital and got to the inmate waiting room fully anticipating a good report from the doctor.  The room was a buzz with the rumors of what Gov. elect Scott Walker was going to do to the prisons and DOC staff.  Let’s put it this way, he seems to be following the playbook he followed in Milwaukee County.  If so, state employees are going to be hurting.  But after the blood work, I saw my oncologist, Dr. Rachel Cook.  The good news is my counts are normal.  The bad news is there area  couple of lymph nodes that are enlarged.  Nothing will be done except to schedule more scans to see if they continue to grow.  I ate my bag lunch in the waiting room while the guards ate their lunches.  After I got back, I sat 3 hours in an empty waiting room, even eating supper there.  Finally I got back to my unit where no one in my cell spoke to me.  But I’m ok with that.  I’ve got bigger fish to fry and I’ve got to deal with my own issues that are much larger in scope than what Andre Charles influences people to do.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  Happy Thanksgiving to all of you reading this!  It’s November 25, 2010 as I write this.  I realize by the time you read this it will be probably closer to Christmas than Thanksgiving.  Such is the nature of this blog – the delay is intentional.  But I want to take this opportunity to thank those of you who have read this blog, many of you who have shared and/or expressed support via comment or email and to those of you who have someone inside whom you love and care about and possibly this blog has somehow helped you.  I thank you for not abandoning them, even though this separation is the toughest battle your relationship has endured.  Nobody but you knows how much you silently suffer.  Special thanks goes to Rebecca, Steve and Jill who have followed me almost since my first day, giving encouragement to me and giving a voice to those who aren’t able to be heard.  You all have put into practice the words of the Sermon on the Mount.  Another special thank you to Dr. Rachel Cook, my oncologist at University Hospital who was an awesome advocate for me, very patient, and expertly defeated my cancer. I also thank the few of my friends I had prior to prison who have not forgotten me.  I will always remember you and all I’ve thanked the rest of my life.  This blog and all of you have far helped me more than I have gotten from you, trust me on this. My biggest thank you goes to the sponsors of this blog who have tirelessly typed up the chicken scratch of my handwriting, managed this blog with expertise and dedication, in a pinch have helped me, and even provided a newspaper subscription. Quite frankly, none of this is possible without you and words aren’t adequate to express the amount of gratitude owed to you. Many of you that got involved hadn’t even known or worked with me previously.  That’s simply just awesome!  So thank you!  Finally, I thank God!  It was one year ago this week that my cancer was diagnosed.  It was the culmination of the absolute worst year of my adult life.  Where the loss of my wife, family, career, friends, music and finally my health were realized and just when it seemed it couldn’t get any worse, the isolation and despair of those days at Dodge Correctional Institution of early 2010 occurred.  It seemed you (God) had completely deserted me.  But it became clear that I had deserted him (God), refusing because of my silly pride and being concerned with material things and people I couldn’t control, had refused to seek help to stop the bleeding of my heart, mind and soul.  But you (God) were always there waiting for me to learn that simple yet difficult lesson.  The lesson is I don’t have the answers and I must surrender on a daily basis as I move forward.  This is 1 lesson I’ll continue to learn for the rest of my life.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I was notified the night before that I would be taking a medical trip the following day.  It was a far better way than last time when I found out a few minutes before the trip that I was going.  I could swear they read this entry because I was notified 3 more times before the trip this time.  It was pretty much like last time on the way up there, except the guard wasn’t real talkative.  Today I was in Madison to have the port that had been put in me last November removed.  They had used this port to deliver chemotherapy used to treat cancer as veins have a tendency to blow up. This probably was my worst experience at the University Hospital in Madison.  Up till now, my oncologist, Dr. Rachel Cook, and everyone else has been top notch.  If you ever have cancer, this is the place to go and Dr. Cook is the doctor you want.  But today, students were in charge.  I had an orthopedic resident and was assisted by someone else who was also a student.  They were quite clumsy in applying the local anesthetic, which resulted in some painful moments for your truly as they cut out the port from the left side of my chest.  Once it was done, I went back to the minimum security holding room on 6th floor and there were 2 other inmates there.  In the course of conversation, one inmate revealed he had 88 days to go to release, but he had been diagnosed with the same type of cancer I had, the one difference being he was stage 2 (I had been stage 3).  It was almost surreal listening to him talk about how he was going to get through chemo with no problems (he hadn’t started yet), how he was going to tell the DOC how he should be handled for his placement, and how he believed he would be released early.  The same aura of invincibility I had had was present.  I tried to get him to listen to me.  I explained what it meant to be stage 2.  I explained how important it would be to be in an environment relatively clean as your immune system will be compromised, and how the effects of chemo will be felt more as time goes on.  But I could tell he wasn’t listening.  I have to admit that I was a little envious of him that through the worst of what he is about to go through, he will be with those that love him.  But it happened to me like it was supposed to.  I really believe that.  When it was time to go back to FMCI, I happened to be on a crowded elevator, where there were 2 little girls.  I have always been a guy young kids could connect with, and they quickly engaged me in a conversation about how funny someone else looked.  They didn’t care I was an inmate.  I was smiling when they got off the elevator. My happiness was muted a bit when I saw their parent pull the girls closer to them as they walked.  I didn’t let it bother me though.  I certainly understand the parental impulse, to protect them from the guy dressed in green.  After I returned to FMCI, in mail call that night, was a bill from Waukesha County for the time I was treated prior to coming to prison which wasn’t suppose to happen.  One of my sponsors carries my Power of Attorney (POA) which I’m grateful for, and I turned it over to them via mail.  It was a full day, with more good than bad.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  I mentioned before that a scan had detected an abscessed tooth.  After a week had gone by and a little encouragement from a sponsor not to let this situation be ignored, I wrote a request to Health Services advising them of the referral from my oncologist, Rachel Cook, of the University Hospital in Madison, made to them. Generally it takes the Health Services some time to get around to reviewing what the doctor wrote unless they get pushed.   I also let them know I had other dental issues to be addressed.  I got up at 5 am as usual and saw my name on the list to go to HSU after count at 8 am.  Paul and 2 others also came along who had dental appointments.  We had to go over to the medium side but once out the gate we were told to wait for another inmate.  Twenty minutes later, we’re still waiting and everyone’s annoyed.  Finally, we’re on our way.  I got called in first and the dental assistant informed me I would be having a root canal performed.  It will take 3 visits.  Today they’d “file it down and put antibiotics in there”. I don’t like dentists and I’ve heard bad things about root canals.  The dentist appeared, a man in his sixties, and asked me if I wanted the tooth pulled or do a root canal.  No, I don’t want it pulled!  They numbed me up without incident and he did what he was supposed to, I guess.  I went back to the bullpen (waiting room) and awaited the others to finish.  The last words of the dentist were I’d experience some discomfort and you should “just handle it”.  I laughed to myself.  Dentists in the real world don’t talk like that but they mean the same.  They just word it nicer!  The next part is in 2 weeks.  When everyone was done we stopped at Property, picked up 2 more inmates and their property who were transferring to the minimum side, which took at least half an hour.   Once I got back, everyone asked what was going on and when I told them a root canal, they reacted like it was so painful.  So far, I don’t get it.  Maybe I will come to pay for my presumptuous attitude over the next couple of appointments!  I am in pain but its tolerable.  At least something fulfilling (no pun intended – wait, yeah that was intentional :)) will come out of my time at FMCI.  In case you were wondering, this process won’t cost me anything.  Normally, it would have cost me $7.50 co-pay out of my funds here but because it was a referral from my oncologist, I wasn’t.  The other dental work I need I will get charged the co-pay.  I’m sure many of you wish all you had was a $7.50 co-pay for dental work but as I’ve noted before inmates make very little money – forty cents an hour at most before I came to FMCI.  I’ve never been allowed to work, first because of the illness and now due to my temp status.  But I’m grateful for the treatment for cancer and medical care.  Had I not been incarcerated, would I still have gotten treatment in time, especially with the aversion to doctors I have?  There’s no way to know for sure.  But I’m grateful for the medical care, the time and expense involved to the Department of Corrections (DOC) and the taxpayers of Wisconsin.  Thank you very much.