Tuesday morning (day 5) I got adequate juicing oranges in the morning, and stashed some for later. Unfortunately, I lost that stash. One of the guards came around, found them, and tossed them in the trash.

That same morning, I got my allotment of paper, envelopes, soap, and toothpaste, and then tried to go to sick call to try to get a medical directive to allow me to get juice. That didn’t work out. It can be amazingly difficult to choreograph seemingly simple tasks, in prison. Sick call is something like 7:00 to 7:30 or maybe 8:00, and if you miss that you’re supposed to wait until the next day. Tuesday morning, once a month, I can get my paper, soap, etc., but that is also only early in the morning, 6:15 to 7:30 by my recollection. My work is also supposed to be done in the morning. With all the locked doors, time the compound is closed to inmate traffic, waiting in line, uncertainty, etc., it often just works out to be impossible to get everything done.

Wednesday I got plenty of oranges in the morning, despite the fact that the menu called for bananas. One cannot rely upon the “national menu.” I tried to go to sick call, but only got to talk to Ms. Hoy, the Assistant Director of Medical. She was altogether resistant, but told me to come back the following day if I wanted to turn in a written sick call form.

I drank 4 glasses of green pea juice that evening. It tasted good and went down good, but I had gas thereafter. I asked a friend and discovered it that green peas contain raffinose, a complex sugar. Raffinose is what makes beans cause gas.

Thursday morning I pulled glasses and fruit at the “fast” window, the one by the open door. The other door was closed, and the tray window on that side is under construction, in order to enlarge it. I drank a moderate amount of orange juice, stashed some oranges, and left to go to sick call. This time I put a note on the oranges that said “Oscar Stilley’s juice fast stash – please leave!”

I went to sick call, and turned in a sheet that explained that I was on a juice fast/hunger strike. The lady who took my call-out told me that was an issue for the lieutenant’s office. After a brief exchange she agreed to see me.

When she called me back into the clinic, I explained my situation. She said that I couldn’t get juice, and that I should go to the lieutenant’s office. She asked why I didn’t buy juice on commissary. I explained that they don’t sell juice on commissary. I said I would be happy to pay for it, which seemed to please her. I made an impassioned plea, explaining that my situation was similar to some of the people I watched coming in on sick call that morning. I asked for a chance to show what juice fasting could do to reduce their work load. She seemed interested, but that didn’t change the answer.

I went to the lieutenant’s office. An officer there asked me what I was doing and why. I explained that I had health, spiritual, and other reasons, and simply wanted to be able to reliably get juice. It was clear that their main objection was to my statement that I was on “hunger strike.” They don’t like that term.

He asked when I had last eaten, and I told him that it was last Thursday. He asked if I understood that I would go directly to Special Housing Unit (SHU) aka solitary confinement. I said “sure, that’s ok.” He told me to wait outside.

A short time later I was called in to talk to Lieutenant Ohiambo. Once again explained that the black mold had damaged my health, and that I had other reasons for my juice fast/hunger strike. He then said it was a medical situation. He called medical, on his radio, and asked them to give me a callout to see the doctor. He told me to wait for a callout.

I appreciate that, but the callout sheet this Thursday evening doesn’t have my name on it. They don’t do callouts on weekends, so Monday is the earliest they will see me, unless they make special arrangements.

This is classic BOP. I helped another inmate, namely Verlyn Drapeau, ask for accommodation for a “juice fast,” some two months ago. This request was ignored, and Drapeau died. Nobody really cared. Now, on the seventh day of my juice fast/hunger strike, medical sends me to the Lieutenant, and the Lieutenant sends me straight back to medical, telling them to let me see the doctor. The right hand knoweth not what the right hand doeth.

I went back to work. The portable rack that I left the oranges on was taken outside to be cleaned, but my oranges were left on another shelf nearby. I was told that the same guard, who had previously tossed my stash, had found the oranges and put them there. The note worked! I thanked him for his kindness when I went to get the soap to do my stocking of sanitary supplies. He is a good guard, and I like him.

I juiced those oranges, and thus got all the juice that I needed Thursday morning. A full tray of oranges is just about right to make the juice for one sitting. I went to the chow hall at lunch and saw nothing but bananas on the trays, so I went to the library. They had overcooked carrots, but the carrots don’t come with significant juice, for whatever reason. I didn’t really want it anyway, if I can pull a little “fox and the grapes” trick here.

I weighed in at 158 pounds at noon. Taking into account fluctuations in hydration, that’s consistent with what I would expect to see. I started at 165, and lost about 5 from emptying my digestive tract. I’ve had a good week for scavenging. I’m close to my ideal weight to start with, and fast weight loss was not an objective. Therefore, a loss of about 2 pounds of fat per week is not unreasonable. Counting fat at 3,500 calories per pound, that suggests that my body is contributing about 1,000 calories a day from stored fat. Of course the weight trend will become clearer as time passes.

I tried to get corn juice in the evening, but that didn’t work out. They didn’t have any available when I came in, so I went to the library again.

I was called back to the Lieutenant’s office, arriving there at about 7:00 PM. Lieutenant Melvin asked me about the hunger strike. He had some of my paperwork in front of me. I explained my situation, including the negligent building maintenance, my illnesses, my weak lungs, the refusal to prescribe decongestants, etc. He said that they couldn’t get any juices for me because of the “National Menu.” I explained that the Program Statements said that either Food Service or Medical could basically “prescribe” juice for a hunger striking inmate.

Lieutenant Melvin acknowledged that our national health is in bad shape, ascribing it to “processed food.” I couldn’t agree more, but inmates here are fed a massive amount of processed food, and no longer get the salad bar that used to be there for the taking. He also acknowledged that other prisons have offered juice to inmates. However, at least part of the “juice” he was talking about had high fructose corn syrup. I explained that I would not knowingly consume such.

He again suggested that I might have to go to SHU, aka solitary confinement. I again responded that I would go if I needed to. I asked if I would be allowed to go and notify my friends via Trulincs if I was sent to the SHU. He agreed to allow that. He said that he wanted to talk to me again after I finished work tomorrow, Friday. I said that I would be happy to do that.

Some of you probably wonder why I would pursue such a course. Let me explain how what leads me to this point:

1) Many violations of law, OSHA health and safety regulations, and common sense, result in so much black mold in the units that many inmates exhibit serious adverse health affects from it. My efforts to corrSome die, and as I explained to Melvin, given the prison’s penchant for for “management by crisis,” that’s an existential threat to Oscar Stilley.

2) The prison won’t let me have a silk allergy mask in self defense, even though they gave me a cheapo nuisance dust mask.

3) The prison won’t give me decongestants. The net result leaves me sick and breathing through my mouth for weeks on end, leaving me an easy target for opportunistic infection. In this overcrowded prison, an opportunistic infection could spread to my lungs and kill me. This prison manages by crisis. By the time I was sick enough for them to notice, it could be too late.

It is not ok for me to be treated that way. It is not ok for anybody to be treated this way. We’ve lost our liberty, that’s why we are in prison. We weren’t sentenced to die a slow death by the BOP’s incompetence, negligence, and bureaucratic rigidity.

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