Chronology of Major Health Problems
2005 – March 3, 2015
By Russell Maroon Shoats/z
As a 71 year-old political prisoner I have spent over 43 continuous years in over 23 jails, prisons, and a maximum security mental institution, with over 30 of those years being held in solitary confinement. During that period the most challenging health issues I have been faced with fall in two categories: major difficulties with both eyes, and prostate problems that have developed into prostate cancer. Chronologically they overlap, so I’ll highlight that with as little confusion as possible.
Over the years I have struggled to PURCHASE large segments of medical records the prison and mental institutions compile on me. In the absence of a court order, no copies of these records have ever been available free-of-charge!
At the present time I am in possession of those records, and my legal team has also acquired more, since it’s almost certain we will soon have to institute legal action to compel the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and its medical contractor(s) to provide me with proper medical care.
Without elaborating, 80% of the following medical procedures were conducted at medical establishments outside of the prisons mentioned. It is crucial to grasp that since I’m a political prisoner, and moreover, classified as a “high security” prisoner, I’m always accompanied on these trips by the most stringent procedures and added personnel. Add to that the usual drive to spend as little as possible on prisoners’ medical care, which inhibits prompt and adequate care in my situation.
Major Prostate Problems
After blood tests, followed by examinations by a physician’s assistant and doctor at the State Correctional Institution at Greene in 2005, I was scheduled for a prostate biopsy, as cancer was suspected as the cause of the alarming irregularities shown during the blood tests.
- In July of 2005 a biopsy showed that I did not have caner, but instead a chronically enlarged prostate gland, which caused daily pelvic pain, and which was treated with warm Sitz Baths and antibiotics.
- For months at a time I was given different antibiotics, and without also being given vitamin supplements to offset their effect, my autoimmune system was severely damaged. That was discovered because, lacking the ability to metabolize those vitamins in food eaten, my entire body was racked with pain. The discovery of autoimmune destruction forced the prison medical personnel to prescribe vitamins that I now must take (outside of any food I eat) for the rest of my life.
- Since 2005 I have been given yearly blood tests to monitor my prostate gland.
Major Eye Problems
- In April of 2010 I had cataract surgery performed on my left eye. Within a year that was followed by laser therapy on the same eye. Since then that eye has performed well, though I must use glasses for reading.
- Within two years of the cataract surgery itself, the vision in my other eye (right eye) had also become very bad.
- Since then, optometrists at the state prisons at Greene and Graterford have had me transported to see two different ophthalmologists, who, after running tests and examining me, both recommended that cataract surgery also be performed on my right eye. To date, however, their recommendations have been denied by both prisons.
- Unofficially I have been told by medical staff at Greene and Graterford prisons that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections routinely refuses prisoners’ cataract surgeries beyond one eye.
- The Chief Health Care Administrator at Graterford prison (Joe Korsniak) went as far as to falsely report that I was offered cataract surgery on my right eye in November of 2014, but I turned that down, presumably because I wanted a more costly procedure done. I have been fighting this lie ever since.
- On February, 27, 2015 Dr. Sanders, another optometrist at Graterford prison, again recommended cataract surgery be performed on my right eye, and went on to record that an eye patch be provided because my right eye is so bad. I’m now experiencing double vision that causes me to close my right eye in order to perform the most basic activities, like typing this chronology.
- In September of 2014 blood began showing up in my urine. That caused me to sign up for Sick Call at Graterford prison, and not long after that I was given my yearly blood test to monitor my prostate gland. That showed that, like in 2005, the gland was indicating dangerous signs. Yet I was still told that another blood test would be done in five months in order to see if things continued to worsen, something I refused to accept by continuing to sign up for Sick Call.
- On October 17, 2014 I was examined by Dr. Manfrey, a urologist who visits the prison, and he indicated grave concern about my condition and strongly urged that a biopsy and CAT Scan be performed on me as soon as possible.
- On November 3, 2014 a CAT Scan was done on me, and it did not detect the damage to my body that the bloody urine suggested might have occurred.
- On November 21, 2014 a biopsy was done on my prostate gland. On December 5, 2014 Dr. Manfrey personally informed me that the biopsy did show that I was suffering from prostate cancer.
- On December 9, 2014 Dr. Malhotra, an oncologist, told me (by video conference) that two further tests would soon be performed to determine whether the cancer had spread beyond my prostate gland, whether my cancer was “aggressive,” and what treatment was needed to begin to arrest it in January of 2015. Later I was told that, according to their Gleason score of 1-10, the average was seven or lower, while mine is diagnosed as a NINE.
- On January 21, 2015 one of the tests was finally taken: a Bone Scan that showed that my cancer had not yet invaded my bone structure.
- Then on January 23, 2015 Dr. Manfrey performed the final test, and that too showed the cancer had not then affected that area.
- During another video conference with Dr. Malhotra on February 10, 2015, he ordered that the previously recommended treatment schedule get back on track the following day.
- Therefore, on February 22, 2015 Dr. Kemick at Graterford prison gave me an injection of Zoladex 3.6 MG. He also said I would receive another shot in one month, and be given Casodex 50 MG tablets during the same timeframe, which will be the first stages of the treatment plan.
- The urologist (Dr. Manfrey) and oncologist (Dr. Malhotra) agreed that my “Treatment Plan and Path Forward” against my cancer would include two months of Zoladex and Casodex—accompanied by periodic blood tests to monitor the effects of those drugs—and then the primary treatment would be radiation therapy to completely rid me of the cancer.
- On February 18, 2015 at a cancer hospital, a radiation oncologist (I believe…) examined me, and conducted an in-depth medical review and family medical historical background, to add to the records provided by the prison system.
- The radiation oncologist said he would conduct the radiation therapy, and in addition preliminary procedures. Then 44 separate radiation treatments would be carried out–five days per week–until completion, and that would start within the already mentioned timeframe.
- They ordered blood tests, which have so far been given on February 13, 25, and March 3, 2015.
Note : The real test will be whether the recommended 44 radiations will begin on time, or at all. So I will continue to provide updates, and my and my family’s deepest thanks are extended to everyone who has supported us. We may very well need even more help! So stay alert!
March 3, 2015