In January 1996 I was driving 'home' (a nice cheap hotel in Grover Beach, California, I was homeless after getting the shaft from IBM) from visiting my friends in Washington State. I think that I was on Highway 101 south in the relatively unpopulated portion south of San Jose. I was falling asleep from the long drive (about 900 miles) and tried to find some music on the radio to help keep me awake. I couldn't find any music but Tim Palmquist was talking about Chinese women in jail whom he wanted people to write to. I wrote down the number (in the dark, while driving) and called him a few days later and he sent me a name and address in the mail. I wrote to the woman and she answered my letter.
For those who have not been homeless: its like working 365 days a year, you don't get any time off, you don't have any money to spend. Holidays are the worst because all the bathrooms are closed (libraries, DMV, unemployment office where I shaved in the mornings before I got my hotel room). I lived and slept in my car. My WA friend had given me a small, portable, manual typewriter which I used to type my resume and cover letters. I went to the library and job-hunted every Monday, then spent the rest of the week typing cover letters and sending out resumes, or going to apply for local jobs. I was sleeping in my car close to a mall and a policeman woke me up in the middle of the night but he was a nice guy and said I was legal, just checking if I was OK. But after that I found a fast-food restaurant where the friendly manager permitted me to park in his parking lot overnight; in return I bought breakfast there every morning. The mall was almost deserted most of the time so I did my paperwork on the tables in the food court. I found one outdoor public toilet in ??? (I can picture the small park that it was in, and I could probably drive there again, but I can't remember which city all these things were in, maybe Pismo Beach? I took a day off once and hung out at a pier in Avila Beach , watching people fishing; I remember it was by a power plant. I also went to Pinnacle National Monument and walked around it, and camped there for the night.
When I was living in the motel I was only several long blocks, about half a mile, from the ocean and I walked to the ocean many nights to watch the sunset; sunset over the Pacific is always beautiful; one of my only good memories from being homeless. The couple that ran the Knight Inn were wonderful people; on Thanksgiving they brought a bunch of tables out into the parking lot and served Thanksgiving dinner to anyone at the hotel who wanted it. There were other homeless people living there besides me.
I kept writing to her until April 1996 when I got a job in Goleta, Calif. which was farther south than where I was living. After getting settled in my new job I had some spare time on weekends and I decided to go see who I was writing to, since prisoners cannot send photographs. It was a long drive to Bakersfield, Calif., about four hours. I had to drive south, then go east across the mountains, then north again thru more mountains; a little scenic but very few trees, mostly dry terrain. I stopped at Best Buy in Ventura every week to shop for CD's and use their bathroom.
The Kern County jail in Bakersfield is very scary, one of the big, bully guards tried to pick a fight with me, but most of the guards were fairly decent. The waiting room was usually empty, or had one Mexican family. It had a bathroom where the water wasn't too bad but I could smell the sulpher in the water that the ladies were complaining about. You filled out a form giving the inmate information for who you wanted to visit and passed it thru a hole in a one-way window with your id, then wait to get your id back, then wait to be called. The door to the visiting room was remote controlled, you had to catch the buzz. It was a long room with 4 or 5 single seats along a counter and a telephone handset for each seat. Same thing on the prisoner side; and a very thick plexiglas in between.
Sometimes I would see, at the jail, Tim or Terry Palmquist who lived in Bakersfield and provided tremendous support for the ladies, all or much of it out of their own pocket. They put money in the ladies accounts so that they could buy bottled water to drink and dried noodles to make soup. They also set up a system by which the ladies could call their relatives in China thru them and they paid the telephone bills.
Wife knew only a little english when we started, most of it from studying my letters. I brought in Chinese magazines and held them up to the window for her to read but the guards eventually said we couldn't do that. Every time I visited her she complained about pain in her teeth and I contacted both the jail and I.N.S. and neither would do anything. The jail had a dentist who would come in and pull teeth out but nothing else. The jail just gave her Tylenol, which is toxic to your liver, not knowing that she had Hepatitis B. The skin on her face was black in some areas, which noone would investigate either. The jail guards gave all the mail for the chinese ladies to one woman who was supposed to distribute it, but she stole one of Wifes letters and Wife caught her reading it and had a fit. When I visited her that weekend she told me about it over and over using her limited vocabulary, she was very angry.
I visited her every weekend until November 1996. I was laid off in October 1996, vacated my apartment at the end of October, homeless again; put my stuff in storage. I drove up to San Francisco, slept in the I-280 (?) rest area and was kicked out before dawn by some guard or policeman. Got a bunk at the Youth Hostel for the rest of the week. Walked to Senator Boxers and Senator Feinsteins offices in San Francisco every day to try to get help but they have instructed their offices NOT to help constituents. (Except for big donators I am sure). Drove back to Bakersfield and visited all four days of the Thanksgiving weekend.
I drove to Oakland, Calif. after Thanksgiving 1996 and found a cheap hotel in a very shady area. Started a new job at Kaiser Permanente on Monday 2 Dec. 1996. My health benefits started the same day, by luck. Worked Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Took off sick Thursday and went to see a doctor at the Oakland hospital. He ordered a barium Xray for the next day and give me the stuff for a 'bowel prep'; what horrible tasting stuff! The next morning I had such extreme pain in my abdomen that I was flopping around on the motel floor like a fish out of water. When the pain eased I drove myself to the emergency room where I got the first FOUR digital exams of my life in an hour or two. One lady doctor kept poking me in my right side which caused so much pain that I would jump up off the bed. She wouldn't stop, I wonder if she was trying to get me to jump higher?
I was told I was dehydrated and hooked up to an IV of saline. They do that every time I go to the hospital! They also took my temperature and the other usual stuff. The saline was cold and chilled me and I asked for a blanket and got one. Then I asked for a second blanket and got one; I was still cold. Then the nurse came with some IV anti-biotics and said he had to slow-down the IV. Soon after he left I felt toasty warm and started to go to sleep. The nurse came in and took my temperature again and ran out for a doctor because it was so high, I don't remember what he said it was. Everybody showed up, including the Chief Surgeon. The cold IV fluid was masking my fever, they were chilling my body with the IV faster than I could heat the saline up; when they slowed the IV down to introduce the anti-biotics they got a more accurate body temperature. Its a very simple concept but noone at the hospital, then or later, would admit that that was what happened.
Anyway the Chief Surgeon showed up and cancelled the barium Xray AFTER I had finished drinking that horrible stuff and other tests were done and I was admitted to the hospital for ten days during which I was given NO food, intravenously or otherwise. I was given two anti-biotics intravenously, and potassium which burned my vein into a rock which took months to soften, and Benedryl which causes brain damage. One of the two anti-biotics gives you a horrible taste in your mouth which lasts for YEARS. I thought it was the Flagyl but another patient told me it was the other one. When I got out of the hospital I had a small Devol (?) bag on my right side with a tube inserted to drain some pus out of my abdomen.
When I returned to work I could not focus on my PC monitor; I pushed it back, and back, and back until I could see it, then I measured how far back I had pushed it. I had lost 15 or 18 (I can't remember) inches of near vision in only 10 days.
I had been given 10 days of oral anti-biotics when I left the hospital, they lasted until about Christmas and around midnight of 01 January 1997 I was in the emergency room again in severe pain. I was given a consent form to sign which left no doubt that I was going to come out of emergency surgery with some kind of problem or pieces missing. The male nurse asked if he could get me anything and I said yes, a loaded gun and a few minutes alone. He was very insulted and said "We don't carry that kind of equipment here." Too bad, I could have evaded a lot of suffering; I had a will and I was prepared to go.
I woke up missing my sigmoid colon and my descending colon was sticking out the left side of my stomach; the top of my colon was folded over like the top of a sock and sewn to my skin. The incision had not been sewn closed but left open to minimize infection and a big bandage put on it. After a few days a special nurse came in and taught me how to clean the wound and replace the bandages and how to use the colostomy bag and how to put a new one on. A colostomy bag is a plastic bag that is glued over the end of the colon sticking out of my skin and the shit just plops out into the bag whenever it feels like it. I don't remember how I was acting but the Colostomy nurse said to the other nurses after she went out "I don't think he's really crazy"; I think the antibiotics were causing problems.
Kaiser Permanente lets patients choose their regular/family doctor, they call it something else. I never knew because I had been admitted to the hospital only four days after getting coverage. My surgeon was an egomaniac: Stephen 'the butcher' Granelli, a thoracic surgeon. A very nice colon surgeon was available but noone told me anything. I was the patient of the butcher because I had been admitted while he was on duty; bad luck. I complained to the hospital and to the CEO of Kaiser that when a patient is admitted to the hospital he/she really NEEDS the advice of the family doctor who could have told me about the different surgeons and who could have protected me from the damage to my vision. The hospital and the CEO were both too greedy or stupid to understand the concept.
I was getting the two antibiotics thru my IV again, Flagyl and ?, I told you about the nasty taste in my mouth. A nurse offerred my some Benedryl to help me sleep better at night and I said OK. The first night it did help but the second night I had nightmares and other problems and I think after a third dose I refused to get any more. Only after I got out of the hospital did I learn that other patients have blamed the Benedryl for brain damage, going back to the 1950's, and doctors are still using it, blissfully ignorant.
My sister flew from New Jersey to California to take me out of the hospital to my cheap apartment that I had gotten in December. She took care of me for two weeks (?) before going home. My car had been OK for both visits to the hospital but it was looted immediately in the apartment parking garage; I was unable to go up and down the stairs to get my stuff out of the car. I weighed myself one week after going home, I weighed 150 pounds. I had weighed 180 when I started work at Kaiser on 2 Dec. 1996. The hospital took my blood pressure etc. several times a day, and took blood every morning for testing, but not once had they weighed me!
The First Surgery photo was taken one full month after the actual surgery; by then the
two ends of the incision had started to close over with scar tissue; right after surgery
I didn't have enough brains to think of taking a photo, also my car was burglarized and
I had to go get an alarm installed.
I spent most of my time in bed and my sister was such a big help that I wrote to the Director of I.N.S. San Francisco asking if Wife could be released from jail to help take care of me, and I included a letter from my doctor, and stated that my need was very urgent. When I didn't get an answer I called them and was told they never received the letter. I sent another one; this is in January, remember. I got an answer in July, over two months after we were married, over four months after wife got out of jail, and six months after I mailed it.
I couldn't stand up straight and my back hurt, so on one of my visits to the hospital to get the incision checked for infection, I asked for a pair of crutches and was given some. That helped a lot and I could walk a lot farther and had a lot less pain. I went to the Post Office to get a package my mother had sent me; it would not fit into my backpack, so the Post Office employees got some string and tied it to one of my crutches. I used the crutches for two months until I went back to work at Kaiser 01 March 1997.
Only two days before I went back to work, Wife was released from jail in Bakersfield,
CA after four years in jail for no reason. It took an act of Congress to get the Golden
Venture refugees out of jail. Wan Tin Jin, a middle-aged housewife, was kept in jail for
two more years, I don't know why.
40 of the Pennsylvania men who were released from jail in 1997 still had no documentation in 2004;
the good folks of PA were seeking another act of Congress to grant these men some kind of
legal status so that they could get work cards or have paperwork processed by I.N.S.
10,000 Mexicans can invade the country every day and that is all-right with President Bush
and our Congress, but a few Chinese men or Chinese ladies doing the same thing calls for jail terms of four
to six years. Remember the Exclusion Act of 1882, the only Federal law ever passed against
people of a specific country: China; it must still be on the books.
Anyway I drove from Oakland to Bakersfield in my trusty red 1988 Honda Civic Hatchback, a great car which I wish they still made. Wife was released late at night; there was a big crowd of reporters and well-wishers in front of the prison. I went inside and identified myself and after a while a guard rushed Wife out of the jail with a newspaper over her head to prevent photographs. The next day we visited Tim and Terry Palmquist who had been so extremely supportive of the I.N.S. prisoners in Bakersfield, and so persecuted by the Bakersfield police, and that night we drove back to Oakland. Wife got car-sick before we even got out of Bakersfield; I stopped at a gas station and bought some motion-sickness pills and she slept in the back seat almost all the way to Oakland and missed all the scenery.
The next day I took her to Chinatown San Francisco to buy herself some Chinese food and we went to I.N.S. San Francisco because there were many errors on the I-94 card she had been given upon release. I stood in line for two hours on crutches, and some very nasty lady with a crew cut refused to tell us anything.
We were married at the Oakland Court house on 24 April 1997 by a clerk of the court. A young lady whom I worked with, Jessica, was our only witness. We walked there on my lunch hour and got married and after taking a few photographs Wife walked home and I walked back to work.
During the first surgery everyone asked what side my colostomy was on (meaning what side my intestine was stuck out on). Sticking out on the left side is good, it means that you may have enough intestine to be put back together inside; sticking out on the right side is bad, it means your colostomy is permanent.
30 May 1997 I walked to the hospital again for a 'colostomy takedown' during which the butcher hacked out my descending colon, rerouted my transverse colon down the middle of my abdomen and reconnected it to my rectum. I was in the hospital for seven days again. When I woke up from the second surgery I had 30 staples running down the middle of my abdomen and six staples closing the hole where my colon had been hanging out my side. I was on a morphine drip in my IV. I couldn't feel the staples but I had a tremendous pain in my left hip bone. I asked Dr. Bossart (a Navy doctor in training who soon after was assigned to the Philipines just before a major airplane crash there) why I had such pain in my hip and he said that that was where my colon had been cut off of my hip bone. I always talked to Dr. Bossart because the egomaniac butcher would never stoop to talking to his patients (so he didn't need any bedside manner). I pressed my 'extra' morphine button until the machine refused to give me any more but the morphine couldn't make a dent in the hip pain. I still have that pain to this day, 24 hours a day; it feels like a vacuum cleaner is trying to suck out my hip bone.
While in the hospital the second time I first had one older gentleman for a roomate who was nice but very quiet; he was black and blue on both arms from needles and had had some nasty surgery. After he went home they brought in a younger man from surgery who had had a feeding tube inserted into his stomach thru his side. I was sleeping when this guy woke up; he got out of bed and pulled out his IV and ripped out the feeding tube and never made a sound! A bunch of nurses and doctors grabbed him and took him back to surgery; I looked at his bed and there was a huge pool of blood on the bed and blood on the floor. He never came back; I heard that they released him to his family immediately after the second surgery.
I knew from the way I didn't heal after my first surgery that my immune system was damaged. I told the doctor that my healing system was damaged and that he should leave my staples in a few more days but the know-it-alls never listen, he mumbled something about chance of infection and took my staples out too soon (seven (?) days after my surgery) and the incision opened up and left a big scar where I had been told I would only have a thin line scar.
I was given temporary disability again for one month and walked on crutches for one month again after the second surgery. Kaiser had some outdoor chairs and tables on top of their parking garage and I would go there for lunch and sleep through lunch. By the third year I had established a routine and reached a level of stability where I could stay awake all day, although I needed, and still need, more sleep than I did before the surgeries. I was pretty much brain dead on Saturdays but a little better on Sundays. Saturday I would usually ride my bicycle to a big grocery store (Sav-mor?) in Oakland; on Sunday Wife and I would walk only three blocks into Oakland Chinatown for her groceries.
I talked to the Chief Surgeon in 2001 before I left Kaiser and told him all of the problems I was having with the surgery and each time he said "other people with that surgery don't have that problem". I said that that meant that my surgery was not done right and he wouldn't say any more. My colon running straight down the middle of my abdomen causes many, many problems. My re-routed colon feels like they sewed a very stiff automobile radiator hose in there, and if I wear anything tight around my waist, or even a gentle, broad, velcro back support, I will be bleeding out the rectum within hours. The colon was and still is sometimes painful, and always uncomfortable. My body laid a bunch of fat around it to try to cushion it, which gives me a big pregnant-looking belly, but it still hurts 24 hours a day.
There are glands surrounding the colon which were hacked out of me along with my colon. Before the surgery I was an amateur speed skater and I was always looking for places to skate and for ways to get in shape for competition. Now I have no hormones for energy and no hormones to build muscle, I have tried working out and doing other physical work that I used to enjoy; nothing happens, except I get a lot of pain and a numbness across my chest sometimes. The surgery aged me 10 to 15 years in only six months and I have been deteriorating ever since.
Walking so much around Oakland so much was good for me, it helped me lose a little weight; after ballooning up to 193 due to the loss of hormones which I had always relied on to control my weight. (I still have a constant weight battle due to the lack of hormones). Kaiser allowed me flexible hours as long as I put in my eight hours each day, and by the third year I had achieved a measure of stability, after much experimenting. I loved my job, I am a natural born programmer, which took me fifteen years of school and working many different kinds of jobs to find that out. I did internal customer support and SAS programming on the mainframe. My resume' is still posted on myrtlebeachhelpwanted.com. I also liked helping people and did a lot of it.
As a result of all the stress, I.N.S. abuse, surgery, drugs, etc. I am both mentally and physically permanently damaged. In 2003 I applied for Social Security disability and after being examined by a physician and a psychiatrist, it was granted. I sent Social Security three pages of medical problems I have since the three hospitalizations, the main ones are never ending pain and exhaustion, and many problems from the loss of my intestines and hormones such as loss of the ability to build muscle, if fact I think I am still losing more, loss of coordination due to the loss of muscle, which leads to me banging into things more and hurting myself more, which doesn't heal like it did before I was disabled, etc.
Before I.N.S. I had a good job, benefits, hobbies, interests, and I was an amateur speed skater, always looking for chances to skate, exercise or compete. Now the only thing I have is a pain, exhaustion, suffering, and a death wish; all is gone for good, courtesy of the criminal I.N.S.
2004: Due to the re-arrangement of my intestines, twice,
I have been told by two doctors that I am in danger of a bowel obstruction. Since I have
been in the hospital three times, and everytime I came out of the hospital more permanently
damaged than when I went in, I will not go into the hospital again,
further damage is unacceptable.
I have a nice family cemetary plot waiting for me in New Jersey.