Prison for twenty, institutionalized forever?
Nearly three years ago, I wrote a TMM about Jorge. This is the beginning of that piece:
“Sitting before me was a Latino male who looked like an NFL linebacker. His shoulders were huge, with deltoids that looked like bowling balls. Tattoos were everywhere. I was intimidated by his physical presence. A chart review moments before told me that my next patient had recently finished a prison sentence. My first impression: “Wow, he really fits the stereotype.” He’s a middle-aged man, he is a person of color and he looks like he could kill me in a matter of seconds with his bare hands.
After the usual introductions, we sized each other up. He clearly wanted to make a good impression. He wanted no part of the drug scene. Drugs led him to prison; he had done 20 and never wanted to return. Exercise had become his passion. He was committed to taking care of his mom, now chronically ill.
I clearly wanted him to know of my familiarity with the prison system. I asked him where he did his time. He was surprised that I knew that Walpole was CJ, Cedar Junction, that I knew of some of what led to doing time at CJ and that I knew the prison medical staff by name. We had a very positive outcome for a first visit - that being mutual respect.”
Jorge (not his real name) has been my patient now for six years. A few months ago, he sat in the exam room beaming: he finally got his apartment. It took his commitment to sobriety and my commitment to advocacy to make this happen after six long years of homelessness. Celebrating with a hug, I praised him for his commitment and hard work and he showered me with gratitude. All was good.
At his next visit, he was Jorge the inmate.... Read the full blog.