“A lot of the men in my unit started getting sick and never got better. And we just didn’t know. I mean, all I want is to help build a group big enough that we might finally understand more about what’s happening to us.”
As I check in on my patients each morning, I wonder if some will unexpectedly decompensate and die over the coming weeks. I think about myself and my co-residents who are in the hospital all day swabbing patients for COVID-19 without adequate personal protective equipment. Many of my co-residents are on home isolation as a result of this exposure, waiting for their test results and praying that our government will step up and fund more mask production, or civilians will return the N95s they’ve hoarded, or the set of a TV medical drama will donate their props to us.
Over the last year, our collective minds have been captivated by stories about child and family separation, detainment of citizens and immigrants, and the quality of the health care within detention facilities. These stories have been jarring and traumatic, and have also awoken an important level of national consciousness about the nature of detention. What has not received as much coverage in recent discourse is the ongoing nature of solitary confinement in our justice system.
The patient who said I was a “round-eye” and thus not a slant-eye / The patient who said in the elevator that he knows Chinese: “ching, chang, chong”
The recent confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court raises concern about the future of reproductive health, particularly access to abortion and affordable contraception. Although his impact on reproductive rights is to be determined, those who will be disproportionately impacted by further compromise of reproductive rights will always be the most vulnerable women among us. This includes the uninsured, poor, and incarcerated.
The baby’s hat is bright orange, knit with vertical ribbing to mimic a pumpkin’s ridges, and topped with a tiny green stem. The cheeks below it bulge in perfect crescents. I turn to the mother to ask if she made the hat herself. Her eyes don’t leave the muted cartoons bouncing across the television screen as she mumbles, “The nurse or someone gave it to her.”
A quiet, frail, emaciated gentleman in his 60s who was dying of cancer. What made him different was that he was shackled to the bed, one arm and one leg bound to the bed of a barren room, lit only by the pale blue light from the window that cast the silhouette of bars on the floor. This was the prison unit.