The invisible killer

By Jimmy Ray Lacy

The coronavirus ran through the MDOC’s Thumb Correctional Facility sparing very few prisoners. I was one of the lucky ones not to be infected by this deadly virus. Out of a ninety-six man pod, seventy plus men were infected. My cellmate tested positive for the anti-bodies, but he showed no symptoms. On the compound we had some deaths and some guys still suffering the long term effects of this deadly virus. We were stuck in our unit, unable to go outside and get any fresh air - just hoping and praying not to contract this virus.

I would sit in my cell noting the normal things a human body does, like coughing or sneezing. I would wonder, “Is this it, do I have Covid-19?

It didn’t help matters the way it was handled at my facility. The nurses came through daily asking if we were we sick. Of course, you know there wasn’t anybody going to say they were sick. Some guys knew they were sick. It took snitch kites to get them out of the unit. One particular inmate said he was glad the kite told on him because if had he stayed any longer, he could have possibly died. The virus was working on his vital organs slowly trying to kill him. That individual is doing better, but still has shortness of breath.

Covid-19 wasn’t finished haunting me. I guess the virus said, “If I can’t get you, I’m going to get someone very close to you - that being my seventy-one year old elderly mother with diabetes.

Now, due to restrictions in my facility, we were not allowed out of our cell to use the phone but twice a day and the schedule changed for odd and even cell numbers. So my time out for calling was 6am and 2pm. Something was telling me to get in touch with my mother. I had spoken with her a few days prior and she said she wasn’t feeling good, was in bed and thought she had a cold. So, that set off an alarm in my head, but I didn’t jump to any conclusion. So, the next day I called on my time out of my cell and I didn’t get any answer, none that day. My instincts were telling me something was wrong. I could barely sleep that night waiting for 6am to use the phone. I called and she answered. I asked her if she were okay and she said, “NO”. So I asked her what’s wrong and she said, “I don’t know, I feel delusional.” Of course, I’m panicked. I didn’t want to get off the phone with her, but I had to do something. I called my oldest daughter’s mother. I told her to go over to my mom’s house because something was wrong with her. With no hesitation she and my oldest daughter sprang into action. When they got to her, they rushed her to the hospital in an ambulance. At that time no visitors were allowed in the hospital. A day later I spoke with my daughter’s mother and she gave me the bad news. My mother had Covid-19! I broke down in tears. I was stuck in prison. I couldn’t speak to my mother. I couldn’t do anything. I felt so helpless… I didn’t know what to do. So I did the next best thing. I went into my cell and prayed for my mother. I asked God not to take her away.

He answered my prayers. She was in the hospital for 4-5 days and released. She has recovered but still has a hard time with her memory. But she’s still here and alive and healthy for a 71 year old lady. That was the biggest scare of my life to think I would lose my mom to that nasty virus. I wouldn’t be able to see her again. My mom is a fighter. She didn’t let that virus take her out. If she has that much fight in her 71 year old body, I’m going to have that same fight and more to regain my freedom.

Also, if you are employed by the DOC across the U.S. tell your friends and family to wear a mask. It saves lives. Don’t be selfish. That elderly lady could be your mother.