Today was a completely unremarkable day at work, which is really the best kind of day to have at a prison. On the other hand, that means I don’t have any interesting, amusing, or alarming stories to tell you for the daily blog entry. So I will leave you with a photo that I took this evening after I got home from work at almost 6 PM. The sun was still a couple hours away from setting.
Last week while I was chatting with the sergeant in his office, I happened to notice a sheet of paper on his desk, printed with the black and white image of an inmate’s mug shot. What struck me about the photo was that the guy had several tattoos on his face, including a large swastika.
“Why do you have this guy’s photo printed up?” I asked, because I’m always nosy like that. “What did he do?”
“Oh, he’s a new arrival to the yard,” the sergeant said. “I have to call him in. I need to talk to him about a few things.”
I picked up the sheet of paper and looked at the name and ID number. On our yard, clinicians are assigned their patients by the last two digits of the inmate’s ID numbers. This particular inmate’s last two digits fell within my assigned caseload numbers.
“Oh, man,” I said. “He’s going to be on my caseload.”
I’ve interacted with a wide spectrum of personalities among the incarcerated population, from the most polite and mild-mannered guy to the one who stared at me across my desk with such a look of intense hatred that I immediately terminated our interview. I’ve been yelled at and assaulted (with no battery– thankfully, the correctional officer intervened when that particular inmate lunged at me). So I wasn’t afraid to meet this inmate with the swastika on his face; I just wasn’t looking forward to it.
Today when I arrived at work, it was my Monday and I had to catch up on emails. It was through one of those emails that I learned that the new arrival was no longer on my caseload. (Later, I found out more details from custody: The inmate had assaulted and severely battered another inmate on the yard, resulting in immediate transfer to Administrative Segregation, where he’d likely be put up for transfer.)
Sitting at my desk and looking at the email, I was happy with this turn of events for about a moment. Because right after I found out that I had one less patient on my caseload, I opened the next email and learned that I’d just been assigned another new arrival.
I have been working on my pink Pound of Love Bubblegum crocheted afghan, and I’ll be honest: I am getting bored with it. Part of me was tempted to frog the whole afghan today. But I’m already several rows into it, and I know it will be very pretty when I’m done with it. I also know just the right person who would love to have the finished project. So I will keep going and not unravel what I’ve completed, but I might take a break and knit a sock or start a new afghan, just to keep things interesting.
Back on Day 85, I posted photos of the garnet afghan I’d been crocheting. Then I got sidetracked with the flu and life and other projects, and I switched over to knitting socks for a while. Today I committed to finishing the afghan. It turned out to be a pretty decent size and heavier than I expected. It’s very soft and will definitely keep you warm and comfy on the couch.
Now I can’t decide if I want to keep it, give it to someone as a gift, or donate it to charity.
This week the old speaker dock for my iPod died, which bummed me out because I like having music playing around the house. So today Sean and I drove down to San Luis Obispo for lunch and a trip to Best Buy for new speakers.
After we made our purchase and headed out to the car, I told Sean, “I’m going to See’s Candies.” Which was conveniently located right across the parking lot in the same shopping center. I am a huge fan of the See’s box of Nuts and Chews. I could eat a whole one-pound box of Nuts and Chews over a weekend, but I have to pace myself to make the candy last at least four days. It’s a good exercise in restraint.
“I’ll come with you,” Sean said.
“I’m going to buy one box of Nuts and Chews,” I said. “I can buy you a lollipop, or a box of lollipops, or your own box of chocolates. Anything you want in the store.”
“No, thanks,” Sean said. “You don’t have to buy me any candy. I’ll just have some of yours.”
“No,” I told him. “There’s not going to be any sharing. If you want some chocolates, I will buy you your own box of Nuts and Chews, but you can’t have any of mine.”
“Wow,” Sean said. “I guess we’ve been married that long. That was a reverse scenario. That’s something you picked up from me, isn’t it?”
Because yes, in the past I was the one saying, “I’ll just have some of your fries,” (or cake, or frozen yogurt, or any of a million things) and Sean going, “No. I will buy you your own, but you can’t have some of mine.”
I guess we have been married that long.
I’d scheduled six patients for my morning line, and the first three came on time. At 9:40, my fourth patient was ten minutes late. At 9:45, I started to wonder if he had forgotten about his appointment. At 9:50, he finally showed up.
This is a patient who has been on my caseload for a couple of years now and with whom I have a good rapport. We have shared some laughs. So when he walked into my office, I couldn’t help giving him a little grief and jokingly shook him down. “What happened, Mr. F? You’re twenty minutes late. I was worried we would have to shut down the yard for emergency count and start looking for you.”
Mr. F did a double take and looked at me in surprise. “What do you mean, Doc? My appointment was for 10:00.”
He handed me his appointment ducat, and sure enough, the time printed on the slip of paper was 10 AM.
“Whoops, my bad!” I said, handing back the ducat. “You’re ten minutes early!”
“Oh, don’t scare me like that,” he said, shaking his head. He settled into the seat across my desk. “These C.O.s already killing me softly.”
Today in IDTT (our Interdisciplinary Treatment Team meeting), I gave my case presentation on a new inmate, Mr. D, who recently transferred to our prison and had been assigned to my caseload. He was a 68-year-old African-American man with a release date of 2027, when he would be 80.
After I presented the diagnosis, psychosocial history, and other relevant information to the rest of the team, Mr. D was brought in so that we could review with him the treatment plan and discuss any questions or concerns. He didn’t have a lot that he wanted to say, so his portion of the meeting didn’t take very long. After he left, my colleague Dr. Y turned to me and said, “He’s 68?!” Dr. Y himself was 60 years old. He said, “I wouldn’t have guessed he was 68. He looks so much younger.”
He added, half jokingly, “It’s just not fair! A lot of these guys look really good for their age.” What he didn’t say and what we guessed was that he didn’t think he had aged as well in appearance as those guys.
“Aw, don’t feel bad,” Dr. E, who is Korean-American and around my age, said. “It’s genetics. And people of color just age better. Especially Asians. Look at Dr. V here. She’s fifty-five.”
The thing about working a ten-hour day is that if I leave the office after 6 PM, I seem to have just enough time to drive home, check the mail, change out of my work clothes, wash dishes from the morning’s breakfast and the day’s lunch, get dinner started, go through my email while dinner is cooking, eat dinner, talk to Sean on the phone, prepare tomorrow’s lunch, and compose the day’s blog post before it is already my 9 PM bedtime.
In other news, I started this afghan. It is the same shell stitch as this previous pink and yellow afghan. I’m working with a pound of yarn. Literally. This is Lion Brand Pound of Love yarn in Bubblegum. I’m very curious to see exactly how big an afghan I will be able to produce out of 16 ounces or 454 grams of this stuff, which according to the label is 1020 yards or 932 meters of yarn. I’ll keep you posted.
Today was my regular day off from work. I met my friend Roberta for a hike to another one of San Luis Obispo’s peaks. The last location we hiked was Madonna Peak, and I shared this photo that gave you a view of the prison in the distance. Roberta didn’t know the name of this peak that we hiked today, but across the valley, there to the left of the photo, you can see Madonna Peak that we hiked the last time. To the far right of the photo, you can see Highway 1 snaking its way out to Morro Bay. Follow that road and you’ll reach the ocean in about twenty minutes. Or our house with a view of the water. Either way, this is a really nice area to have access to both mountain peaks and the ocean.
It is also a good area to eat a huge fisherman’s platter at a dockside restaurant one day and then take a hike to burn off all those calories the next day.