A July I will NEVER forget ! Lockdowns and quarantines…
This July started with a bang and I am not talking fireworks! I am talking 119 degree weather and no air conditioning! This entire month has been ridden with days of extreme heat, days of lock downs and episodes of quarantines...let me explain.
Starting on July 2nd, the hottest day of the year, we were locked down to our cells after the 4:00 pm count. Nobody knew what was going on and the officers wouldn't give us a clue. Finally after hours of being "held hostage" in our roasting cells we received word that there had been and "incident" on one of the neighboring yards. One of the control rooms (where the officers sit) had a water leak which blew a fuse and the water and swamp coolers had to be turned off on that yard. Because the swamp coolers were out, the women on the other yard had to be moved to an area that had working air conditioning or swamp coolers. This is quite a task when you are talking about moving a whole gaggle of women who are considered " maximum risk" to other areas. Needless to say this took many officers and much time. Even though this yard is not connected with our yard (the yards are all divided by much fence and barbed wire) our yard was locked down for security measures. Hours later our doors were "popped" open for just a few minutes so we could go outside to cool off and get a bit of fresh air. Some women ran to smoke but most ran to gossip and find out what the scope is, in prison lingo it is called ear hustling.
At around 8:00 pm we were told that OUR water and swamp coolers would be turned off for just a bit, maybe 15 to 30 minutes. Well I now know that in DOC terms that means, we are not really sure but you'll know when the toilets start to flush again. They never did turn the water off, thank goodness, but the swamp coolers remained off and off and off and off and off...
There wasn't much that me and my cell mate could do but lie on our bunks in the path of our little fans. Thank god for the fans! Several hours later, finally, the swamp coolers were chugging and churning once again! Yippee!!! Everything was back to normal. Or so I thought.
5:00am the next morning, I hear the usual pop of my door. I think to myself, yup all is well and back to normal here on 24 yard. I decide to lay in bed, still tired from the long hot night. Since we were no longer locked down, I would just take my time...rest a bit, make a cup of coffee then get a shower. Well, so much for all of that...doors start slamming again...another lock down has begun.
It's Sunday I think to myself. Usually on Sundays I would have a visitor but not on this day because tomorrow is July 4th and we get a special visit. I then start to panic...if we are locked down all day and I don't get a visit then it could be days before I get out of here! Locked down and no way to call home. Hours went by, no breakfast at the usual time and no word from the officers of what was going on. Finally at around 10:30 we are called for breakfast. We get out of our cells to walk to the chow hall. The chow hall was stifling, no air, no working swamp coolers, just the hot ovens and grills making it all worse. After our unusually "hot" breakfast back to our cells we go. I see the phones and so badly want to call home and say "please come for a visit, don't wait until tomorrow, I need you today"! I see the showers and think, I want to shower, we all need to shower. Some women had not been able to shower in almost 24 hours and with this heat, well use your imagination!!
Around the noon hour I see several women being called for visits. I longed to be called for a visit, I want out of this cell. I want an hour or two in air conditioning and an ice cold soda. I kept thinking, mom and dad are not coming today, they are coming tomorrow. If they only knew I was locked down they would be here! Wait I thought....I KNOW my mom, she will call. She hasn't heard from me, I haven't been able to call. She WILL call HERE and she will ask if we are locked down and they will come, I just know they will come...12:30, 1:00, 1:30, 1:45....I:45 my door pops!!! I knew it, I knew it, they came!!
I scrambled to put on my pants and shoes, I ran to the control box and asked....is the visitor for ME? It was! I had a visitor! Heading to the visitation area on the dirt track, I ran, I ran with tears falling down my face. I was crying tears of joy because I am so blessed to have such loving and caring parents. They cared enough for me to call and come and "rescue" me.
I looked like a hot mess as I entered the visitation area but it did not matter! The first thing I did was grab my mom, I held her face in my hands and said, "mom, I knew you would come, I knew you would come". It was a visit I will never forget.
It is the times like these that make me realize how we all take the simple things for granted like air conditioning and just a simple call to our family.
About the quarantines...I heard it was scabies. I didn't have them, I heard others did. Those that had them were locked down for days. It was what had to be done so they wouldn't be spread to others. They did the best they could here with bleach and disinfectants. They handled the situation the best they could.
Appreciate all that you have, no matter how much or how little! There are always others worse off and others better off. But, if you have something, it is better than nothing. Nothing is what most of the women have in here. The next time you are hot or hungry, just think of the women of Perryville. Most have never had anything and never will. Be grateful you are there and not here.