Life in Texas prisons with Parkinson disease

Jacobsen, William T.



Life in Texas Prisons With Parkinson Disease As you can imagine life in prison is hard. It's everything you see in the movies and so much more. I've seen fights, riots, murders, gang violence, rape, and more. None of this was or is trully surprising. What is and should be surprising is how many mentality challenged, disabled, and elderly are in Texas' prisons. I can't speak for other states. However Texas has a lot of elderly, mentality challenged and disabled. And there is little to no help for us. I was diagnosed with Parkinson Disease five years ago. It's hard enough being here in prison. But to also be told you have Parkinson Disease is unbelievable. Worst yet, they tell you you have PD and then do nothing to explian what Parkinson's is or what to do to beat, cope or prepair for whats to come when you have a disease like Parkinsons. It's only through books (books I order from the free book companies available to prisoners, thankfully the had two books on Parkinsons) that I've learned the little I know of Parksons Disease. Even these books are limited on information. So I'm still struggling to educate myself. Texas Department of Criminal Justice has sent me to see a neurologist. I'm supposed to see the neurologist ever six months. I've been several times over the last five years or should I say four years. As of this wrighting I haven't been to neurology in over a year. Not that going to neurology has done me much good. All the doctors from the unit level to the neurologist only do what is best for T.D.C.J. When I spoke to the neurologist, forgive me for not giving her name at this time, I tried to ask her some important questions. Such as Is Parkinson's terminal? Why am I have trouble lifting my feet? Why do my muscles seem to hurt and seem to be hardening? Her response is either, Don't ask questions or That is not related to Parkinson Disease. Only later have I found out in my limited research, that yes it is a part of Parkinson's or Parkinson's related. They (T.D.C.J) has given me one of the best medications available. However I've learned from my two books that this medication Carbidopa/Levo and Carbidopa/L-Dopa should not be taken for more than five or six years. There for should only be taken in the later stages of Parkinsons. So why start me on this medication? And where do we go from here? Your guess is as good as mine. In the last five years I've gone from walking on my own, walking with some difficulties, to using my walker. I've been doing what I can to rehabilitate myself. For if I complain or ask for help I get placed in a cell by myself with nothing but the clothes I had on. With no one to talk to, no toothbrush or toothpaste, no showers, etc. for up to 30 days at a time. I've done about a year that way so far. On the very slim chance they do listen to a problem or request. The answer is no! Take for example, the Newspaper said that people with P.D. should ride an exercise bike. Our unit has exercise bikes locked up in a storage room. We can see them, but we can not use them. Worse yet is almost no one wants to work for T.D.C.J. because of how they are treated by the ranking officers. From the wardens down to the sergeants. I've been told by more than one T.D.C.J. (guard) officer there not quiting because of the offenders, but because of the rank. With the lack of staff, there is no outside or inside recreation for months at a time. More often then not we are locked in our cells 24/7. But when we do get dayroom time we must be seated at all times. Do you see the problem? We all need to move around, to get some exorcise and sunshine. Having P.D. it's even more important for me to move around. To try and help the muscles stay lose and to help me continue to walk. Another problem for myself and any disabled is they only have two disability shower. So your stuck in one of two spots for better or worse. While others can and do move all over the unit. Now you may say to bad, like they do here. But there are programs we'd like to be a part of. One such program is called "Horizon." It's a faith base class thats a year long. However you must live in a certian dorm in oder to take part in this program. But they have no disability shower in that dorm. So we can not enjoy this program. And not having more disability showers available so we can take part in such programs hinders our rehabilitation. Also by limiting us to only two living spaces, they have put us in a more dangerous position. If they move a group of rowdy guys over here all we can do is sit back keep our mouth shut and stay out of the way. We can't request a move like others can. I am grateful to live in general population. I don't think we should all be housed in a disability area. But there should be more options for us. 2 I'm sure this all sounds like complaining, but its not. I'm trying to show you how it is here. There is so much we lack in trying to stay healthy and deal with a life changing disease. Starting with doctors who care, being taught about the disease, how to manage it, and so on. If T.D.C.J. can't or wont provide us the Doctors, information or the time to rehab outside of our cell, what are we to do? Where can we turn? It shouldn't be so hard to get the prisons to help us. I ask you, How would you feel if told at 37ish you had an incurable disease such as Parkinsons? Then you get no help in understanding this disease. Given no real chance to fight your way along. To be given doctors or people who really dont care about you or what happens to you. To be told you are costing them to much money. Then struggle to find free information to try and help yourself. All while being stuck in prison. Yes, most of us put ourselves here. But we are still people. We still have hopes, dreams, fears and more. We still need and long for love, compassion and life. We dont stop being just because we are in prison. Thank you for your time William T Jacobsen

Author: Jacobsen, William T.

Author Location: Texas

Date: January 15, 2020

Genre: Essay

Extent: 3 pages

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