I WANTED OUT OF THAT HELLHOLE AND WOULD DO WHATEVER IT TOOK TO ESCAPE.
Then came the Week of Death. Nine died, people I knew. It was time to take action.
When I relocated to Denver, I wound up on the streets before being dumped into a shitty nursing home.
A nursing home is not a place to live but a place to die. Most inmates arrive by ambulance and most of them leave by hearse. I was determined that would not be my fate.
From the day I was incarcerated until the day I escaped, I would be faced with a never-ending fight for survival. My survival became a battleground where I would come to know my enemy and my enemy would come to know me.
What I was given to eat was nothing less than shit disguised as shit. After I’d lost thirty pounds, it was time to seek some alternatives.
I began buying my own groceries. Some staff members brought me home-cooked meals, while others bought meals for me. Occasionally, relatives of other inmates would bring me something to eat, as would members of my own family.
The nursing home doled out to me a meager thirty dollars of my Social Security check each month. I don’t know anyone able to buy food on such a pittance, so I struck back. Unknown to the nursing home, I opened a bank account and arranged to have those checks direct-deposited to it. The nursing home failed to notice this switch until more than half a year had passed.
Meanwhile, I was having severe pain in my neck and shoulders. An orthopedic surgeon prescribed three days of physical therapy per week. The nursing home wanted me to let its rehabilitative therapy department treat me. Since that would be the same as nothing, I pointed out my legal right to choose my own medical provider. The nursing home staff didn’t like that, but I persisted and won. I selected a therapy department at one of the hospitals. Not only would I get good medical care, but also it would get me out of the nursing home three days a week for three months.
An added benefit, from my perspective, was that the nursing home was required to pay for my transportation to and from the hospital.
Although I was surviving my internment, life was becoming more of a struggle as time went on. I wanted out of that hell-hole and would do whatever it took to escape.
I had witnessed, and been a victim of, many atrocities. These included mistakes in dispensing medications, cold showers, withholding of food, as well as physical and mental abuse. Then came the Week of Death during which nine people I knew died — some of them needlessly. I had begun to fear for my own life as well. I knew it was time to take action.
A friend and I compiled a lengthy list of improprieties and abuses we had witnessed. We contacted an ombuds–woman and asked for her help. She visited, listened to our concerns and complaints, and then confronted our warden, aka the administrator. We filed 22 "verifiable" complaints.
Four of us met every other week for nearly three months for the purposes of seeing to it that changes to improve the prison conditions were actually made. While this was taking place, several other inmates made their voices heard too. Before long the state began an investigation into charges of alleged misconduct and wrongdoing.
By this time, firings and staff changes were underway. I had to get out fast to avoid being "accidentally" killed or maimed. One nursing supervisor had already told me I didn’t belong there, that I was "too alert."
The social worker on staff tried to talk me out of leaving, saying I wouldn’t get the proper care from a personal attendant. I suggested she not stand in my way or I’d have to run right over her.
I’d already been in contact with the Atlantis Community [a Denver Center for Independent Living, where Adapt is headquartered.] They arranged a transitional apartment for me. And so I am free again. I survived.
Self-Defense Tip #1
About re-routing Social Security checks from the nursing home’s account:
People imprisoned for the crime of disability are sometimes able to squirrel away for their eventual escape the monthly $30 of their Social Security check dispensed to them by management. Jim’s method seems a significant improvement. He cautions, however, that if a prisoner takes that route, he or she had better move fast — during the estimated four to five months it takes for the Accounting Department to catch on. In Jim’s case, the nursing home sicced the state’s Medicaid cops on him. He was forced to repay what funds were in his account — before he moved out. But not the money he’d already spent. Hmmm. — ed.
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