Medical Issues (Part 10 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.
ADOC Medical and I are at a standstill with my earaches, headaches, sore throat… They are still insisting it is allergies. I received two rounds of antibiotics finally, but I still have the same symptoms.
I’ve also been fighting with Medical about the severe pain in my neck, left shoulder and back. Finally, when I was one step away from beginning the grieving process, I was sent out for an MRI. The wait was slow. Sitting at the V-gate, a million thoughts rolled through my mind. Stripped out then searched before I was loaded up into the transportation van, I realised it’s been 17 years since I’ve been outside of the prison gates for anything.
For the MRI, I was to be transported to a doctor’s office in Mesa. I do not even know where Mesa is. At the Northgate, the officers checked my face to ID one last time. The van pulled up to the front of a building. The officers got out of the van. It seemed as if all my senses were at their height. The officers returned from the building, loading guns, counting bullets. My mind had visions of a cheery B-rated prison movie. All you could do was laugh. The drive was approximately 50 minutes. I watched the cars, taking in all of the scenery as if it were something magical.
We finally arrived at the doctor’s office, and I realised there was no back door to enter. I had to step out of the van in orange prison clothes, belly chains, handcuffs and shackles in front of everyone as mothers pulled their children closer and people gawked with disguised looks on their faces.
Nice, I thought to myself.
I was shuffled to a small room, asked to fill out paperwork, and waited quietly.
Finally, they called my name. My first name: Renee. It took me a moment to digest this as I’m so used to being referred to by my last name. The technician extended his hand to shake mine. Again, I was startled as prison Medical staff would never do that. The technician advised the officers to remove the shackles and belly chains in order for me to have my MRI.
I was scared. I knew it was not going to hurt. I just knew something was wrong and I was about to find out. As the technician was telling me about the MRI, “You have to lay completely still, and if you need to come out squeeze the ball,” was all I heard. I continued to look at the officers standing so close to me and the MRI machine it was ridiculous.
The technician placed earplugs in my ears, headphone-type things on my head, and put me in the head restraint. My head was pounding wildly. They slowly slid me into the machine. The last thing I saw were the officers watching me. I listened to the beeps, blasts and whirling machine noises for God knows how long.
Periodically, the technician asked, “Rene, how are you doing? We’re almost done.”
Around the time I was about to freak out, the technician began to slide me out. My first sight was the officers. As soon as I was up and out, I was again placed in restraints. Emotionally, it was too much. The technician was not permitted to give me any results. Again, the results had to be sent to ADOC for the prison doctor to give me them.
I was shuffled back to the small waiting room. As soon as everything was complete, they paraded me in front of the public again. I was loaded back into the van, and drove back to the prison. I returned to my room emotionally spent. Again, I waited…