They Said Nothing Was Wrong….
by Linda Fields #26257 from CCWF
Her name was Anna, Annie Bells to me, Gator to most. She didn’t have much book learning, she was illiterate. Annie took a remedial reading class as long as she could. She would come back to our room and read a children’s book, so proud to be able to make out a few words.
Annie loved the yard. She would work in the plumbing shop all day, come in for count and work in the yard all evening. People would stop in front of unit 507 and just gaze at all the beautiful flowers she had lovingly raised from seed. Our yard was a showplace. She was so full of life and joy. Her blond hair would fly behind her as she’d race the wind. That was my Annie. But all things must change, not always for the best. Annie grew quiet. She no longer had energy. The medical staff said nothing was wrong. She hurt. She bled too much and too often. She kept asking for a pap smear. They didn’t give her one. She couldn’t eat, kept loosing weight. They did nothing. After months, the doctors decided to give Annie her pap smear. All of a sudden, she was sent out to a cancer clinic for laser treatments. She laughed about her little tattoo dots, the marks showing were to aim the laser. They said she’d be fine. Then they kept her overnight for several days, putting radioactive pellets inside her. She came back weaker, with huge blisters from her buttocks to her ankles. She quietly cried. She had implants several times in the month of April 1994. Still, she was forced to work.
The garden grew weeds, Annie worried about the flowers. She tried to keep up but could not. She grew too weak to attend reading class. She no longer picked up her children’s book. She no longer slept. Nights were the hardest for Annie. She tried not to moan aloud, she didn’t want to bother anyone. The sheet metal we call a bed cut into her thinning body. Could would seep into her bones. Still, she worked. Nothing was wrong they said. “Get away from the MTA office,” the medical staff would yell.
We asked if Annie could take a shower in the middle of the night to ease the pain. “It’s not permitted,” we were told. Many times she would just stand, holding onto the metal bed poles, crying, afraid or unable to move. The housing staff would call the MTA to help her. There was nothing they could do. Aspirin, Motrin, that was it. The pain became unbearable. By October, Annie was swelling. First her ankles and lower legs. Still she had to work. She no longer had strength to go to the dinning room. We stole food for her that she could barely eat. We begged for medical help. They said she couldn’t die from swelling. “Get out!” they’d yell at her. They said there was nothing wrong with her.
Still Annie was forced to work. They would not un-assign her. The garden turned brown and died as if it wept for its tender. Annie paled and swelled more. She couldn’t get her shoes on. She couldn’t eat, she vomited. Day after day, Annie would lay in front of the medical clinic on the ground, sobbing for help. They said she was fine and get away before they wrote her up. She couldn’t work anymore. Her poor little body was shutting down. Finally, the doctors decided something was wrong. They admitted her into the treatment center where she was placed in a room and forgotten. Forgotten by the medical department, but not by the inmates here at Central California Women’s Facility.
Annie died in December of 1994. She didn’t want any special treatment, she didn’t want anything fancy. She was used to a lot less. All Annie wanted was to be treated like a human being. Would anyone allow their animals to go through what she went through? The animals have the SPCA, who did Annie have? Who cared about her? I did. I loved Annie. She was my best friend, my roommate. I swore that I would never watch another person die like she did. I promised her I would tell her story. Please, remember Anna Jackson. She was a mother, a daughter, a friend. Don’t let her suffering be for nothing. Don’t ever let this great state of California kill another woman like her again. I have her name on the inside of my locker. I read it every day. I will remember her. Make my last memory of her racing the wind and winning, not laying in front of an MTA’s clinic, sobbing. Let her live through us, the women left doing time in CCWF, with a medical department that treats us as humans.
They Said Nothing Was Wrong….