*This and a few following posts, the exact number unknown at this time, are a retelling as accurate as I can give of the several recent dramatic events of my life which have been full of some of the most traumatic experiences that I have ever made it through, but which also lead to some of the most profound and startling realizations and epiphanies of my life. While these entries are not directly about animals themselves, the animals in my own life were impacted greatly by the events that occurred, as well as many of these events causing me to examine the predicaments of the various animals that come into “shelters” and animal control centers everywhere. I have chosen to be brutally honest, and realize while some may judge me, others will appreciate my honesty and hopefully a few will maybe learn something from my experiences. The specifics of which ALL will come to be revealed in the the telling of my story.*
i continued to dig in my arm with the end of the comb to try and hit a vein. something like a cord of muscle or something kept brushing against the comb’s bristle and i began to wonder just exactly how long and how successful this was going to be. i had planned that once the bleeding started, i would strategically allow it to squirt in several different areas of the cell, for greater impact, as well as the small window. i didn’t know how much blood i could loose before i would pass out and actually risk bleeding to death, so i would have to act quickly. the hole was small, red and raw. JESUS! why couldn’t i hit the vein!!??!! it appeared huge thru the skin, a dark blue trail thru my pail irish skin. how long was this going to take?! I had …HAD to get out of there and home!!
suddenly fear surged in me. what if i did hit the vein and bled out so fast i wouldn’t get help? dying was not my goal here. getting home to my furbabies was. what if it wasn’t enuff blood and they just put a bandage on me and stuck me back in here? the sudden reality that i could die made me stop. this was a line that i had never reached before, and being dead wouldn’t help any of my animals. i threw the comb across the room. DAMMIT!!
another two hours passed with the anxiety eating away within me; chronically crying. my stomach ached from all the cramping of crying. what was i going to do. then the chest pains began to hit. sharp, burning.
i banged on my cell door, and no one came. i banged harder. a male guard responded. “what?”
“i need to see the nurse! i’m having chest pains!”
after briefly discussing it with his partner, the nurse was radio’d.
the crying and chest pains, continued. soon i was hyperventilating as well. that’s just about when the nurse finally showed. they opened the door to my cell, and the nurse had me follow her to a med room.
” so what’s going on?” she asked. “you need to calm down. you need to learn how to relax yourself in times when you have no control. ”
i would try and respond but everytime i did, i started to cry.
“have you never been in jail before?”
no i shook my head. ” i just wanna get home to my pets. my family! this is stupid why i’m in here!”
“i know you do” she said, “but the reality of the situation is you’re stuck here and you’re gonna have to ride it out until you can see the judge. you have anxiety pretty bad don’t you?”
“yes. and depression. i’m just coming out of a very difficult time. i just started a new job this week. prior to this i’ve been almost destitute; HAVE been destitute! i was denied for unemployment from my last job, and i’m on food stamps. i’m worried about my pets! i have three dogs and there’s no one there to let them out or feed them or my cats! this is cruelty! by holding me and not able to reach anyone who can help them [my pets] immediately, this jail and everyone associated with holding me here, is guilty of animal cruelty!! not to mention you’re jeopardizing my new job! i wanna go home!”
‘i know you do, but that’s not the reality of the situation” said the nurse. “what’s that on your arm? that wasn’t there earlier!!”
“i tried to punch a hole and hit the vein there. i figured if i started bleeding like crazy, they’d have to take me to the hospital and let me out of here, but it didn’t work”, i responded.
“you don’t wanna do that” she said. “would take a whole lot more than that for us to rush you to the hospital, and you really don’t wanna be on suicide watch. i’ts not fun. they put you in a little green suit.”
“what kind of green suit?” i asked.
“ok from now on i’m going to be watching you really close. i know you don’t have your meds here, but we have an antihistamine that can help with the anxiety, and also help with your head pain as well (i had been complaining of a sinus headache too). how about if we try that?”
if it meant i could calm down and maybe think a bit straighter, which might lead to me getting out of here quicker, i was all for it.
“i’ve placed and order for them to move you into the lower security level upstairs. there’s alot more freedom and real beds. plus i think being able to socialize a bit with the other girls will help”, she said. “someone to talk to.”
“there aren’t like, any serial killers or anything up there? i won’t have to fear for my safety?” i asked.
“no nothing like that, and we all have our troubles. no one’s hear to judge” she said.
“lemme get that med for you” she said.
meds taken and placed back in my cell, a good 45 minutes later and i was able to think much clearer and be calmer. it was late, and i hit the phones again to check in with my sis to see what was going on.
my brother had contacted a bondsman in California where he was to make inquiries about the one placed on me. he couldn’t afford the full $6500 but the $1000 he might be able to pull off. the bondsman called him back explaining the “cash only” stipulation.
i started crying again, but this time softer, and not so out of control.
“hang in there lu” my sis said. “we’re doing everything we can”.
i climbed back onto my “bed” and began wondering what time it was. i got back up, pounded on the door until the guard came. midnight he said. breakfast, for some ungodly reason, was served everyday at 4:30am. i saw a bunch of books on a cart, and asked if i could have one. he let me out. i hastily grabbed one and went back in my cell, laid down, and attempted to read, but it was no good. the emotional part of the anxiety i felt was taken away by the medication, but my gutt was still tight and my mind still racing a million miles a minute.
somehow, i drifted off to sleep for a bit. when i woke up. i was more calm. i hopped off my bed again and pounded on the door, inquiring as to the time. 3am the guard told me. it was chilly in the cell, and sewer odors were coming up from the drain in the floor. the jail was located close to the city sewer treatment plant (everyone thinks the town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado is so beautiful and yet they have one of the worst sewer treatment plants with an odor problem! you’d think with their tourism desire they would put this on the top of their list for a resolution but no!) which was notorious for an odor problem! this also contributed.
also the cell next to me was occupied. actually the two cells next to me were all occupied, one with two women, and anytime either one of them used their toilet, thanks to the heating system, the odor moved onto the next cell, so not only did i get to “smell” my neighbor’s toileting, but his neighbor’s as well, since i was on the end of the line. lovely!
i wrapped myself with one of the blankets i was given and moved back to the door to watch the goings on in the booking lobby. for 3am in the morning, things were awfully busy. granted, it was a friday night. i thought maybe i might be able to learn something via observation and my assessment was correct.
any person brought into booking, like myself, went thru a process. they were searched, given a change of “jail clothes” put in their cell and then when the guards were ready, they were brought back out for finger printing. upon conclusion of retrieving the prints, an inmate was returned to their cell again. booking wasn’t finished tho, as the inmate’s items and clothing were vacuum packed in a large air tight bag, with a deodorizer i would later find out when opening mine, and small items were laminated to a piece of cardboard. all items were then deposited into a hanging bag of sorts, with the prisoner’s name and assigned number on a sheet attached to the bag. the staff, or guard that night, in booking was just two: one male and one female. the place was hopping and they were busy. not only were they charged with processing the new detainees coming in, but they also have the ones already processed who would periodically bang on their cell door to ask a question or make a request.
not surprisingly, inmate concerns were not a priority and so guards weren’t always the quickest to respond. with some of the staff, it was apparent that it wasn’t because they necessarily assumed our guilt, but because they were so busy. with other staff: we were guilty and we could sit and wait. period.
after awhile i got bored with the goin’s on outside my cell door, and wondered back to my “bed”. i wondered how my animals were doing especially my 3 dogs, two of whom were crated, and all 3 of which hadn’t been outside to relieve themselves for well over 12 hours now. my sis said they would be leaving around 9ish in the morning and with having to retrieve my car, which was on the side of the highway and which there was only a limited amount of time it could be retrieved before being towed, coming back to the jail with my meds, AND the snowstorm that was passing thru, I knew it was going to be quite awhile longer before my animals could be attended to. the medication that helped with anxiety was in full working order by now, and it kept the panic from coming on.
i began to think about my predicament and the many animals everywhere who were also imprisoned at various animal controls and shelters through out the nation. in comparison to the standard “cat cage” as I call it, I had a bit more room. I could pace about and at least burn some energy, whereas your standard shelter cage, didn’t give as much room for a cat. once a litterbox, food bowls and bed were placed in one of these cages, it really didn’t leave much of any room to move about or stretch at all. the bedroll i was given, was about 2 to 3 inches thick. i knew that once i was able to sleep, it would eventually condense and i would feel the concrete. any bed a cat was given in these cages, might do the same. i wonder how they adjusted to sleeping on such a hard surface. the light in my cell, which i was informed would never be turned off, was extremely bright and made it very difficult to relax, much less sleep. i was sure that in many a city shelter and animal control these same type of lights were used as well; making it difficult for them to rest- or least be well rested. the activities in the outer booking general area, made alot of noise. from the guards talking to each other, to the equipment that was used to vacuum seal clothing and laminate personal items. some detainees were very verbal and loud. all of this, making it extremely challenging to be well rested. however, in the cages, the cat’s food, bedding and litterbox are so close, they are sure to be intermixed, thus deteriorating any chance for the animal to live in any kind of clean and healthy environment. no wonder animals were extremely stressed in such an environment!! no wonder they got “cage fever”! and no wonder they could quickly deteriorate to URIs and numerous other common infections and ailments. the very agencies and organizations that us humans had built to help animals, was a major contributor to increased stress, fear, and illnesses of the very animals we were allegedly trying to help! i now moreso than ever felt for the many animals “incarcerated” at the numerous city pounds, animal controls, and alleged shelters that were everywhere. i could totally relate via my current experience to what so many animals might feel. ( let me interject here, that like the shelter residents, new detainees being brought in, also contributed to the spread of illness in the booking area, despite the fact that we were separated from each other- days after i was released, i came down with a virus).
i pounded on my door again and after several knocks, a guard relented and came to the door. time i asked? 4 am and breakfast would be served in half an hour. i had no clock in my cell, no windows to help indicate the time of day, and was not able to view the clock on the wall in the booking area. so my only recourse, was to keep track via the guards. my purpose behind this wasn’t solely my own curiosity, but because i was going to try and call my sisters before they got on the road.
breakfast arrived at 4:30am sharp. cheerios, milk, toast with jam, and a banana were on the menu. i’m a bit unique in that breakfast is my favorite meal, and i liked cheerios stemming all the way back to childhood, so in this instance, in a strange way, my breakfast food was familiar and a bit of a comfort. i wondered if animals in shelters and pounds were able to take any comfort in their meals, if the food they were given was the same kibble they were given at home. that problem depended on whether they came from a home to begin with.
i ate, and finally, well after over 12 hours, had a contented full stomach that finally stopped growling at me. it was now 5 am, and i had three hours to go before checking in with my sisters. i laid back on my “bed” and began to read, but instead, drifted quickly into an uncomfortable and restless sleep.