Medical Issues (Part 4 by Lifer Renee)
Renee – Only a teenager, she received a 60-year sentence. Sixteen years later, Renee is writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.
Yet again, I walked as fast as a I could to Medical, anxiety killing me. First come, first served. There were six of us.
The officer collected our ID’s. “Take a seat on the bench. You’re on count!” he barked.
Sitting down, I told myself, Just breathe.
At least fifteen minutes went by. The nurse called my name. I jumped off the bench, and walked into Medical.
“Sit down. We need to get your vitals,” she said. No eye contact.
My eyes scanned the Pepto-Bismol-pink walls as the temperature probe went into my mouth and the blood-pressure sleeve was wrapped around my arm. Again, I told myself, Just breathe.
All done, I was ushered outside to wait. I wondered what to say in case they tried to brush my problems under the rug as is so typical in prison.
Later, my name was called, so I walked into the provider’s office.
“So what is going on?” he asked, clasping his hands together.
As I explained my symptoms for the last nine months, he just looked at me through his glasses with a blank face. I told him my ear hurt right now, and my throat was sore.
He checked my right ear, and told me that at one time my ear had been punctured. “It has scar tissue.”
“I don’t ever recall my eardrum being punctured,” I said, staring blankly ahead.
“Your ears are fine,” he said.
“It may look fine, but it hurts.”
“Let me check your throat.”
I opened my mouth, my frustration rising.
“Yeah, it’s a little red. Tilt your head back.” He shone a light up my nostrils.
“Oh, you have a sinus infection,” he said.
“For nine months?” I asked.
He gave me a how-dare-you-make-me-do-my-job look. He placed his hand as if grabbing my esophagus, and told me to swallow.
With difficulty, I managed to swallow.
“Hold on. Swallow again.”
Oh shit, I told myself. I managed another swallow.
“Your thyroid gland is swollen. I am going to order some lab work. It is either hypo- or hyper-thyroidism. I think hyper, but we won’t know until the tests come back. I will try to schedule you for the lab work and see you again within the month. If I haven’t seen you in two weeks after lab line send me a HNR.” It sounded as if he were speaking Greek.
I asked him about the X-rays taken of my neck and shoulder.
“Oh yeah, you have degenerative bone disease in your C5 and C7 vertebras. You’re too young to have the surgery to fuse the vertebras together,” he stated matter-of-factly.
My jaw hit the floor. All my mental notes gone. I walked out of Medical with $4 less on my inmate account, and no medicine for my sinus infection. Dumbfounded.