Stephanie was 1 of 5 women released at the Greyhound bus station today. But unlike the others, who were all going to be able to depart for their hometowns by 4:00 P.M., she was going to have to wait until 2:30 A.M. tomorrow morning to catch her bus to Waco.
She is diabetic and early this morning, as they prepared her paperwork and began processing her for release, they took her to the medical unit for a blood sugar check and insulin shot. Then the medical staff gave the guards a box of syringes and a vial of insulin to give to her when they dropped her off at the Greyhound station. Which was about 1:45 this afternoon. So when she got off the prison van they handed her the medical package with a big green sticker on it and great big letters on the sticker that said, “Refrigerate Immediately.” It had been out of the refrigerator in the hands of the guards or in the hot transport van for hours by that time.
She was worried whether it was still good. We couldn’t do anything about what had already happened, but we asked whether there was any refrigeration unit on the bus and were told no. We asked if there was anywhere she could refrigerate it at the station until her bus was ready to depart and we were told no. So we gave her our insulated fabric tote that we use to keep hamburgers warm and we bought two large cups of ice to put in the tote with the insulin. Normally, we don’t give the women any money but we left her with a few dollars to buy more ice later in the evening because she had such a long wait before she could get on the bus. We also gave her lunch and extra food for the long night ahead of her.
Stephanie didn’t become insulin dependent until she entered prison. Prior to that she had taken Metformin to control her blood sugar but her body didn’t respond well to the stress of prison life and she was put on insulin. So, the thing is, she had never had experience managing her insulin injections outside of prison. Now, not only was she on her own managing her diabetes for the first time, but she was dropped off at a bus station with almost 12 hours to wait before boarding, and she was handed a warm vial of insulin with not so much as an insulated bag and a freezer pack to cool it down and keep it cool. And have I mentioned that the prison serves breakfast at 3:45 A.M? She was dropped off at the bus station at 1:45 P.M. without lunch or any money to buy food.
This is why we feel called back, week after week, rain or shine, hot or cold. We didn’t do much, but we did something. Stephanie has a challenging evening ahead of her, managing a fabric tote filled with melting ice. But she felt less alone and scared because we helped her get that tote together. And she had lunch with us; friendly, “outside” people who accepted her without judgement. She also had the food we gave her for later. By the time we left, she felt stronger, more in control, than she had when the prison dropped her off. It wasn’t much, but it was something. God go with you, Stephanie.