Stephen Newman

The Trash Can Diaries by Stephen Newman

I had to go to medical at 11 this morning to get my blood pressure checked. I’m scheduled to do this every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for two weeks, so that they can determine if I need to be on blood pressure medication. For the last couple of years, it has been getting higher and higher. On Monday, while being examined for a grotesque mole that has gotten infected and needs to be removed (you’re lucky my tablet doesn’t have a camera — otherwise I’d share the picture here) my blood pressure was something like 167 over 105. But today, just two days later, it was just 145/94.

Today, it was taken in the hallway. On Monday it was taken in the doctor’s examination room, as I was sitting on the exam table (with the paper underneath me). I suppose it’s possible that my fear of doctors (garnered from when I was diagnosed with Histiocytosis X, as an infant, and spent many weeks at the Children’s Hospital) causes my blood pressure to spike when I’m on an exam table, but not if I’m simply in a hallway. Or, it’s possible I’m reading too much into it. Still, when you see 167/105, and you’re only 43 years old, it’s scary. Especially because each time it happens, the nurse or doctor says, “Whoa, that can’t be right. Let’s try again.” When they try again, it’s the same.

Last year the P.A. eloquently informed me, “Your blood pressure sucks, dude.” Of course, he didn’t do anything about it. Reminds me of those credit monitoring commercials, where the dentist merely informs you of all your cavities. (You probably don’t even know what I’m talking about. I’m guessing in 2018, people on the streets don’t actually watch network TV commercials. Why would they? If you want to know about commercials, ask any inmate. We all watch them religiously, as if every day was Super Bowl Sunday.)

Another reason my blood pressure could be high? Over a year, now, of living with my high-strung cellmate. Bill Clinton may have felt my pain, sure. But today I feel the pain of poor Mr. Wilson, as Dennis the Menace would irritate him to the point where he needed Mrs. Wilson to get him a pill. It’s possible that my living situation is more stressful than I even realized.

You see, my cellmate is a clear sociopath and narcissist. Empathy isn’t his strong point. I’m also convinced he is somewhere on the autism spectrum, but I’m no doctor. I can’t say for sure. I do see similarities, though, between him and Max, the fictional kid in NBC’s “Parenthood.”

On Sunday, our cell got searched. My cellmate and I both use empty Saltine cracker boxes as a small waste basket. We line the box with the plastic baggie our lunch comes in, just like putting a trash bag into a trash can. The officer confiscated my cellmate’s cracker box, but not mine. This sent my cellmate into one of his temper-tantrums.

“It makes no sense why he takes MY trash can but not yours. If he’s going to take them, why not take both of them, not just one? This shit ALWAYS happens to me!” he yelled.

This pissed me off. I understand that he would be upset at losing his trash can. But the bulk of his anger was due to the fact that I still had my cracker box, and he didn’t. It made him feel, somehow, less-adequate.

“That’s kind of a fucked up way of thinking, don’t you think?” I asked gently.

“Why?! It’s true. If it’s contraband, if it’s against the rules, fine, but if you’re gonna take one, take both of them. Don’t leave yours.”

He’s thrown similar tantrums over the past year. His logic is on par with a selfish 7-year–old who refuses to share his toy with a friend. Or “Mr. All-Mine,” for those who still remember ‘Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” But this guy is 36 years old and served several years in the Air Force.

My reasoning was going nowhere with him. I almost ripped my cracker box up and threw it on his bed and asked him if he was happy now. But I managed to refrain, thank goodness. Here’s the funny part — I have an empty cracker box in my locker. I would have offered it to him had he not been such a baby. Now, he can buy his own. They’re $1.50 and they come with four sleeves of crackers. Not a bad deal at all.

A month ago, we each sent out some important paperwork to our families in a Priority Mail Flat Rate Box. His arrived in two days. After 14 days, mine didn’t arrive and I was worried it was gone for good. It finally did reach its destination, but imagine if I had said, “It’s not fair that my mail got lost and yours didn’t. I would have preferred if both of our packages got lost. Then I’d feel better about it.” What kind of a self-righteous prick thinks this way? And the craziest part is, he’s a nice enough guy. He tries. At least I think he does. But I’m starting to see that when he is nice to people, it’s merely so that he can get recognition for his “good deeds” and feel better about himself. He has a pathological need to be liked, but he isn’t very likable. It begins to make sense why he relates better to children than to adults. Emotionally, he is on their same level, yet he has a much more developed brain, rife for manipulation.

Here’s the good news: I weigh 228. Well, technically 230, but I was wearing shoes, so I deducted two pounds. At my highest point in Orofino, two years ago, I was 257. I hope to get to 200 before I leave in November.

Yesterday I began reading my final book on Borderline Personality Disorder. This one is a memoir, “Get Me Out Of Here,” by Rachel Reiland. It is insightful, but too long. It’s 446 pages, and probably should’ve been 300. Still, it has given me some insights that the other books haven’t, and has helped me to better understand the person in my life that was diagnosed with this recently.

I’m also halfway through a self-published novel called “Penpal,” by a first-time author named Dathan Auerbach. I bet he’ll be famous one day — the book is a true masterpiece.

Stephen Newman
DOC #90843


Categories: Stephen Newman

1 reply »

  1. I once walked in fear, in darkness,
    Held captive and broken by sin;
    Of God and His Son so careless,
    Until Jesus and light entered in.
    My God knew my pain and my sadness,
    Each detail of heart and of life;
    Yet showed me his utter kindness,
    And brought me such sweet relief.

    I once was held fast in sin’s power,
    Which ruled me and kept me in chains;
    But Jesus He came and to conquer,
    His grace he poured into my veins.
    I tried and I tried to get freedom,
    I cried and I cried for some peace;
    Then Jesus He came with His pardon,
    From judgment He gave me release.

    How can I forget that sweet tone,
    You’re free, yes, you are really free;
    You’ll never again be all alone,
    Today He is still walking with me.
    He lifted me out of my bondage,
    From the filth and the mire of sin;
    He’s mine till the end of the ages,
    And mine through the ages of heav’n.

    (© Jimmy Hamilton – Written December 2003)


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