Prisoners’ Health Must Matter

By Bobby Bostic

From PHN Issue 47, Fall 2021

Although they have committed crimes, prisoners are still entitled to adequate healthcare
They are still human beings that should get medical treatment that’s fair
To be captured and denied care by your captor is a form of torture
As a result, you also suffer mentally and emotionally from your internal physical scorture

Locked away from society, you have no one to call out and cry to
You file your medical grievances to demand the treatment that you are due
For many decades, prison advocates have been litigating against greedy medical providers
Battling against powerful law firms hired by government insiders

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Against the Odds

By Antwann Johnson

From PHN Issue 47, Fall 2021

My name is Antwann Johnson, and I felt compelled to share my experience with COVID-19 while incarcerated. On October 16, 2020, I was working as a DLA (Daily Living Assistant) and I was approached by the Housing Unit FUM (Functional Unit Manager). He asked me if I would be willing to live in the Medical TCU for the purpose of giving assistance to the medical personnel who cared for inmates that had contracted COVID-19 and were severely ill and dying.

At first, I felt reluctant because this virus was still a mystery to us all. Not long after that conversation with the FUM, I was informed that my cousin and two of my close friends had tested positive for COVID-19. After that, I made the decision to go to the TCU Unit. I’ve seen firsthand how many of the inmate patients don’t have any family or people who care about their well-being. The primary purpose of being selected to live in the medical unit was to help prevent any cross-contamination or spread of the virus as much as possible. It would be two inmate patients that I grew close to while they were battling COVID-19 who would ultimately give me the strength to continue fighting this worthy cause.

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Identifying and Treating Urinary Tract Infections

By Avery Cox

From PHN Issue 47, Fall 2021

UTI stands for urinary tract infection. This is a very common infection that affects millions of Americans each year. UTIs can affect all people, not just women. Symptoms are similar in all people. This infection usually takes place in the urethra (where you pee from) or the bladder (which holds the pee). Different kinds of bacteria cause UTIs. If the infection is very serious, it may be in your kidneys. If you recognize the symptoms, you can often diagnose a UTI by yourself.

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I Encourage You to Get Your COVID Vaccine

By Comrade Angel Unique

From PHN Issue 47, Fall 2021

As a fellow prisoner and comrade, I encourage you to get your COVID-19 vaccine when you are allowed to do so. I did—two doses of Moderna. The way I see it, our captors shamelessly made no realistic attempts to protect us. None. But, now they are offering us a chance to protect ourselves, the communities our prisons are located in, our potential visitors … on the streets. The luxury of the option to get vaxxed or not is there, but for those of us inside, we each know our own conditions. There is simply no way—zero—we can ever hope to go somewhat back to normal programming without the benefit these vaccines guarantee!

About 90% to 95% effective at preventing hospitalization or death! Wow! Serious side effects are extremely rare … so, please. Get vaccinated. It’s the only way for prisoners. I send my love and solidarity by the stars above.

—Comrade Angel Unique 🙂 xoxo

Hand Arthritis Tips

By Edwin Rivera

From PHN Issue 47, Fall 2021

This idea stemmed from the arthritis I’ve now had for several years. I have it on different parts of my body, but I am focusing on the arthritis on my hands, which causes my fingers to lock. And believe you me, it hurts when I have to pry them back into place! Anyone with this condition knows all too well what I’m talking about. It’s mainly my ring finger and my right pinky. I started to do light finger curls every day and washing my hands with hot water.

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COVID-19 Updates: Delta Variant and Vaccinations

By Lily H-A

From PHN Issue 47, Fall 2021

A newer variant of the COVID-19 virus called the delta variant, which is more than twice as contagious as earlier variants of the virus, is now the most common coronavirus variant in the US. Earlier in the summer, US cases had dropped to some of their lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic, but now the delta variant is driving new surges. In the US, Southern states are currently most affected. Hospitals in some heavy-hit areas have reached their capacity. Many states, after rolling back COVID-19 restrictions earlier in the summer, are putting some restrictions back in place. There have also been new lockdowns in some jails and prisons after outbreaks.

Based on data coming out so far, it seems like the currently available vaccines are still very good at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths from the delta variant. The large majority of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are people who were not vaccinated, and spread of COVID-19 seems to be worse in communities with low vaccination rates. But, vaccines do seem to offer less protection from people getting milder cases of COVID-19 with the delta variant, and spreading it to others, than with earlier variants.

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Managing Uncertainty

By Leo Cardez

From PHN Issue 47, Fall 2021From the new Department of Corrections leadership to politics and the coronavirus pandemic, inmates live in volatile times. In prison, all we know for sure is that we don’t know shit—we live off of rumor and conjecture. And that’s not good for us. The damage caused by our unpredictable circumstances causes havoc on every aspect of our being.

  • Activity increases in brain areas associated with fear and hypervigilance. Persistent uncertainty can alter the brain’s architecture and increase the long-term risk of depression and cognitive impairment.
  • It affects our body through a cascade of stress hormones released as part of the fightor-flight response, making us sweaty, dilating our pupils, quickening our breathing, and tensing our muscles.
  • It affects our thinking as we become more reluctant to take risks and less likely to focus on future rewards. Also, our perception of time changes: The present seems endless, and we feel cut off from the past and future.
  • It affects our feelings, creating unease. Research shows that waiting for sentencing generates more anxiety than the sentencing itself, which may bring a sense of relief. (I can attest, the year I spent waiting to be sentenced was the longest and hardest for me.)

Incarceration during this historic epidemic seems to hold more questions than answers: Will I or someone I love get sick? Are my job, school and cell, assignment secure? What do the election results mean to our shadow community—are there any criminal reform initiatives on the horizon? And when will my facility go back to normal—if at all?

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To Transgender Women Wanting to Take Hormones

By Ms. Juicy Queen Bee

From PHN Issue 46, Spring/Summer 2021

I’ve been on my treatment for over 3 years. Here are some tips:

  1. Wait, don’t rush—let the process take its course.
  2. The doctor is actually doing what you go through on the street, checking your mental health to find out what psychological help you may need and to make sure you are prepared.
  3. Most people think getting on the hormones they’re going to get the result they want ASAP, but it may take some patience, or it may not be exactly the result you want.
  4. When you start taking estrogen, you may find that your mood swings change and your emotional state changes.
  5. The older you start, the higher you are at risk for certain health issues.
  6. If you take certain medications, you may not be able to take hormones until they replace them, or you may need to take the medications differently.
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Mental Health is Essential

By Ethan Macks

From PHN Issue 46, Spring/Summer 2021

With all the concern going around about COVID-19 and what is essential and what is not, I feel that there needs to be greater consideration for mental health.

Being incarcerated, I see a lot of stigma concerning the issue of mental health. Being labeled as SMI (Seriously Mentally Ill) on the streets, I’ve had ample experience with mental health and how it should be treated. The National Institute of Mental Health defines SMI as a “mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.” SMI commonly refers to a diagnosis of psychotic disorders (schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder), bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder with psychotic symptoms, treatment-resistant depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and personality disorders.

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