Prison Pete

Sunday, May 18, 2008
  My Last 17 Days.
On April 12, I decided I had sat on my ass long enough and made my third trip in the two years I have been here up to the Rec yard.

I walked for about 90 minutes, and did not feel too bad considering I have been sitting around my cube doing minimal physical exercise. I walked again on Monday, and then one last time on Thursday, April 17.

Somehow between walking on Thursday between noon and 3 PM and one more trip up the hill to the activity building at 3:30 for an ILC meeting and about 5:00 AM Friday morning, I fractured my right femur, right below the point where it forms the ball that sits in the hip!

I was at the surgeon's office today and saw the x-ray of my hip. It turns out the procedure (the surgeon?) has a high failure rate and the result of that failure would by replacing some of my God given parts with manmade alternatives.

The goal is not only to have the bone mend, but also not leave the ball starved of vital nutrients so that it does not "die".

This entire escapade started to evolve at around 7:30 AM on Friday morning when I discovered while lying on my right side in my tightie whities and T-shirt, that I could not move from this position. I had been hobbling around for most of the night, and had signed up to go to sick call in the morning anyhow.

Somehow upon returning from a trip to the bathroom around 5:00 AM and getting back into bed, curling up while lying on the right side I completely broke the bone. As I said in my last letter, I later thought this might be the result of a long forgotten injury,

Meanwhile I had my neighbor alert the officer that I could not get out of bed. He calls for the area sergeant, who calls for the nurse to come up and supervise my transfer from the bed to a folding canvas stretcher at floor level. Between the nurse, another officer, the sergeant, and one or two inmates I am lifted by the bottom sheet and placed on the stretcher.

Since I have nothing but bad luck, there was no medical doctor in attendance on Friday. Between a phone consult one of the nurses decided that some Ben-gay applied to my right thigh would make my pain go away.

I was transferred to an observation room. I had thought I was waiting for the doctor to make an appearance. The nurse returns about thirty minutes later and is ready to move me out of the infirmary, back to my unit and comes in with a pair of crutches. I attempt to stand on the crutches and am not able to move forward one bit. The nurse seems to think I am faking for whatever reason. They then decide to send me across the street to the infirmary.

I am placed in a wheel chair, pushed out to the van and then have to literally crawl my way from wheel chair to the 12 passenger van. The officers offer no assistance; they are not supposed to anyhow, and one of the officers supposes that it might be my sciatic nerve and tells me how he had the problem and how they pump you full of drugs to solve the problem. This is exciting to the officer since he is hopping the once the doctor agrees with his diagnosis, he hopes he will be the lucky one to take me to the Medical Center earning a whole bunch of overtime!

I finally end up on the x-ray table. After taking my close-up, and while still lying on the table, I hear the x-ray tech say something about a broken hip.

Talk about your big sinking sensation. I am left on the table while they figure out what to do. The bottom line is an ambulance is called and I am dropped off at the local area hospital. Then they take some blood, evaluate the x-rays and decide they do not want anything to do with me. They call for another ambulance and give me a shoot of the pain killer Dilaudid. We are off again to the Med Center.

I spend most of Friday evening in the hallway with many other infirmed, the only difference being I am guarded by two gun toting correction officers. Eventually I am admitted to the prison wing and am put in a single room.

Saturday Morning I sign surgery authorization for either a full or partial hip replacement.

Just before I am ushered into surgery I meet the surgeon that will be doing the operation and he says they are not doing the hip replacement they are going to put the pins in.

I survive the operation, and by Monday afternoon I am picked up and dropped off back at the Infirmary.

The infirmary consists of two rooms with four beds, one shower and one toilet, and one color TV.

I was in this infirmary for two weeks, initially getting around by use of a walker, then graduating to crutches.

Since I was yanked out of the hospital so soon I never talked to the surgeon, only one of his assistants. This individual changed the dressing on my wound on Monday, and led me to believe that what they were waiting for was the results of a pathology report to confirm no bone disease, and I would be good to put weight on it. This report was due within four or five days.

Since I was eager to break out of my isolation, I did not even have my glasses, so all I could do was watch TV or sleep, I made sure the nurse followed up for that report. When it was faxed over and apparently confirmed no bone disease, I was given the go ahead to put some weight on the right leg, for a day or two with the walker, then the crutches. One of the nurses even took me out into the hall way one night and encouraged me to put as much weight on it as I could.

Finally on Friday, May 2, at around 1:00 they decide to send me back to my normal government funded secure location.

I arrived too late to receive any of my personal property which in my two week absence had been packed away and my sweet corner location given away to another inmate. Yes they jump into your grave quickly around here.

So I end up in a different dorm. I am issued the most basic supplies, sheets, blanket, towel, wash cloth, tooth brush. I had hoped I would simply drop back into my corner cube and be able to run a brush through my mangy hair for the first time in two weeks. I had no access to any shampoo or comb and brush for the two weeks I was in the infirmary.

The one bright spot was I went down to the kitchen Saturday morning and the person that had been stopping me from working on the computer has finally retired Friday. Ironically, at his retirement party he told two of the staff that works in the kitchen that now they could have their computer back. I was operating with quite a handicap since I still was without my reading glasses so could not see some of the print on the screen.

By Sunday I had the computer system back up to date data wise and was eagerly awaiting Monday so that I could get my glasses and really get to work. I also got to go to church on Sunday and it was good to be among some friendly caring people.

Then Monday arrives, and the storm clouds begin to gather. I headed out to sick call at 7:00 AM with hopes of getting some more definitive information as to what I should and should not be doing. I get in to see the nurse and she tells me that I am scheduled to see the surgeon this afternoon.

That was good news. I return to the dorm around 8:00 AM and ask the officer to call about me getting my property. Since I was due to leave at 12:30 for the appointment, I would not be around in the afternoon.

I roped in another inmate to assist me and went down to collect about 12 bags of my property. Plus my keyboard and typewriter. I consider this a good sign and assumed that I would find most of my worldly possessions safely tucked away in the bags.

The first couple of bags gave me even more reason to feel secure as some of the things one would assume would be left were in the bags. For example the hair ties that were on the post of my bunk, and the plastic bag with my broken fan and radio.

It was not till I was down to the last bag that I realized that all my food was missing. Cans of tuna, black beans, mackerel, sugar, spice and everything nice. All gone. They also found my envelope of stamps and that is gone as well. Here I was looking forward to my first real jolt of protein in two weeks and nothing is left. As a friend of mine used to say, cheer up things could be worse, so sure enough I cheered up and they got worse.

We arrive at the Med Center just in time for my 3:00 appointment and I get an x-ray of my hip taken. The surgeon comes in and says "You are not supposed to be putting any weight on that leg at all!" I get to see what was done and see three or four "nails" that are all that is holding the ball onto the bone. He mentions how it has already collapsed some due to my walking on it, but that it was still within the amount that it could do so.

He then told me that this surgery did not have a high success rate and it would take up to three months to see if it would take or not. If not, I would then have to have some sort of man-made parts installed!!!

I am now really feeling like shit and the officer escorting me tells me that since I am not supposed to put weight on the leg I might be moved back to an infirmary location. Egads up to three months with no access to my typewriter, keyboard, my computer job, camaraderie of the Catholic community. Stuck eating only state food. As an aside I lost at least six pounds over the last two weeks. Possibly more. I now weigh 214. Several months ago I was up around 220, and probably gained a few more pounds.

Here is the question. How if all I did was sit on my ass or lie down for the last two weeks eating every bit of state food I am provided could I lose weight? The portions are the same as everyone else gets. And now the prospect of eating only state food for three months!

So it is now 9:30 PM and I am going to finish up this letter. I am scheduled to go to commissary tomorrow, and will fill the sheet out with high hope that I will be around to pick up the items. I have already lined up another inmate to carry back the loot and am buying him a pint of ice cream for his assistance.

The thing I have not figured out is that even if I stay it would be difficult to do my own cooking, which would mean I would have to feed him for his help that would be tough to do. I could certainly handle the 1/3 pound of pasta in my hot pot. And my tuna salad is easy enough.

That is my world over the last 17 days. Is that all it has been?
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