I made my usual trip to Nashville this weekend. I wasn’t going to go because of the weather, but as luck would have it, the weather totally missed us, which is good because I had an appointment with an intern of a nonprofit organization that advocates for inmates and I didn’t really want to miss it, though I could have rescheduled. Either way, I didn’t need to. So I made the drive to Nashville, like a bat out of hell because I didn’t set an alarm and I was prepared for snow so I was prepared to sleep in, but I woke up at my usual 6am time and peeked out the window before I went back to sleep. No snow. So I got up, ran to the store to get Mel some breakfast foods before I took off. I know, if it was going to snow, I should have gotten it the day before, but the snow was supposed to melt by noon anyway and he would have lived, but since I was leaving, I only thought it right to go grab him something, because sometimes I’m an adequate mother.
I got to see Joe. He looked good. I haven’t really been mentioning too much because he seemed to be making backward strides and I want to stay positive and I want to be optimistic and I don’t want to put any more negativity into the world than there already is. I really thought he was going to be dead by this week. I know it sounds awful, but the last two weeks he’s just been so blah. He hasn’t been alert at all. No winking. No blinking. No communication at all. I kind of guessed it was because he was depressed. It’s crazy to think that less than a year ago we were having conversations and laughing about stupid stuff and writing letters and now he can’t talk, he can’t walk, he’s wearing a diaper and a feeding tube. If he is aware of anything at all, I’m sure he would not want to live like that. He has no quality of life. There are so many things that have gone wrong since day one with him. I hate even talking about it because I get so emotional, but I had to talk about it today. I had a meeting to tell this lady about his whole situation from almost day one. Actually, about our friendship from day one. I got to go back 21 years and tell her from the day I met him until today. It was pretty bittersweet. I love telling the stories of how funny he was and how he is so country sounding when he talks and how he always talked so fast and he was always trying to stay a step ahead and then it gets sad that after seven months he’s not improved. He’s physically gotten worse because they don’t offer any kind of therapy in prison. His furlough hasn’t been approved yet. I haven’t been able to come up with the $2500 to pay for the lawyer so I can get conservator over him, which is basically like a power of attorney for someone who is not competent enough to appoint someone power of attorney. It would also help me to get a lawyer to look into his situation, but with nobody legally able to “hire” a lawyer or sign papers requesting medical records and other records, the justice system pretty much has the upper hand,which is not really a big shocker. Anyway, I’m just going through the motions of this whole situation, trying to be strong and happy and chatty when I go see him and driving halfway home wishing my eyeballs had windshield wipers, but today was different.
I got in to see him and one of the good nurses (there’s three total) had gotten him a loaner radio. I have been trying to find out about getting him a radio or a tv because I thought it would help his neurons to start firing again. Maybe hearing some familiar songs or watching a familiar show would trigger something to bring him back. So he has a radio now with some headphones that they are playing for him and it seems to have perked him up some. I talked to him like I always do. I told him the day and the date. I got a wet wipe and wiped his face off. He seems to like that. I combed his hair. He likes that too. And we chatted. Well, I chatted, because he can’t talk, but he was blinking today in response to some of my questions. There’s a very good chance that, like a toddler who stays with his sailor father all day, that when Joe does start talking, if he does, his first word will probably be “fuck.” I guess it’s pretty much my favorite word. Especially when I get to see him and see that his room hasn’t been cleaned since he got there. I’ve been watching the iodine spot on the floor for two months now and the stickers with his name on it that fell off his feeding bag since september. For him to be in a “hospital,” he sure isn’t in a sterile environment. Basically, I say, “these mother fuckers” under my breath a lot when I walk in his room, hence he will probably say something to that effect if he ever talks again. Like I was saying, he seemed a little better today. Mentally. Not physically. Physically, he’s shit. His legs are pulled to him like a baby and won’t straighten out. His left arm is contractured and his elbow is swollen like it’s broken, of course nobody can tell me why, but it’s been like that since last week, his right arm is not far behind, and he still has thrush mouth for the sixth month. And I haven’t heard anything about his furlough. I’ll be interested to see him next week to see if the music has made a difference now that I’ve told them the kind of music he likes to listen to.
As for the meeting I had. There is an oversight committee meeting at the capitol in a few weeks or next month and I’ve been asked to testify on the side of an oversight committee being necessary, especially when it comes to privately run prisons. So I will have five minutes to tell Joe’s story to a group of lawmakers and hope that it makes some sort of difference. I guess the key will be convincing them that he’s not just a number and he’s not just a paycheck and contrary to popular belief, when people go to prison they don’t become invisible and unnecessary to the world. They are still people who still have people.