One of the most, perhaps even dangerous times you could ever experience while being locked up is sickness. Even the very small, taken for granted toothache can turn into an excruciating experience, so much so you’d almost want to yank it from your own mouth; or would gladly thank the other person if they served you a punch in the mouth.
I’ve had several painful moments while incarcerated particularly in federal custody in Puerto Rico and in, “The Box”. For a period of time, I suffered from an abscess growing in my gums and could never attract the attention of anyone to help me! In thinking how an infected tooth, foot or whatever may be wrong, can send poison into your bloodstream causing death or other maladies, all because no one took you seriously at the time, or you had to put in for a, “Call out” so medical personnel could determine a date to fit you in, doing nothing for the exasperation you’re feeling at present.
While doing this bid, two men within as many weeks were carried out feet first, one of which complained of chest pains and the duty officer not taking it seriously enough, telling the inmate to return to his bed. He followed orders and died during the night!
We’ve all heard the horror stories, so how can you deal with these issues while locked up? First off, you can begin being honest with the medical practitioner you meet when you first arrive letting them know AND document any past medical and dental history or present concerns you have and request to be seen periodically. Secondly, develop rapport with the shift officer because this person will ultimately be the one who could get things moving for you—or not! How willing would you be to help someone if that someone makes your day a nightmare? The slightest stirring of pain, get into Medical or request to be seen, otherwise you may be made to wait. Thirdly, if you have access to the phones, use them to call your loved ones to help push the administrator to facilitate your being evaluated.
If push does come to shove, do what I thought I’d need to do once and appear to be unconscious, on the floor during count or routine cell check. No officer wants it to be known someone died on their shift because of their lack of attention and it be proven such.
Desperation is never justification for abusive language or behavior. There have been times when I had to be still and pray, and found solace and help from God who relieved the pain to make it bearable until I could get the help I needed. If you’re healthy, pray for it to continue because health is what truly matters, next to spirituality. Without it, you have nothing worth living for.