(This is a true story by one of our favorite reporters on Lumley—Ed.)
“At age 71, I take chest pain seriously. On Monday morning I told the guards I was experiencing severe chest pain. I was transferred to medical via wheelchair immediately.
The nurse hooked me up to the EKG machine and started the test. She looked relieved as she viewed the results, but decided to examine me more closely. The nurse discovered a raw, red rash on my back wrapping around my torso. Shingles! That explained the chest pain because this virus mimics a heart attack. She immediately called the doctor on duty, and he told her to admit me to the IPC Isolation ward now.
Shingles is very contagious because it’s the same virus that causes chickenpox. But what about the pain? I was given an NSAID shot that did absolutely nothing. This was when I was reminded that as an inmate, I would not be given the same class of care as an old lady on the outside. All I could hope for was Tylenol-3, no matter how bad the pain got. And it was unbearable. At one point I wanted the guard to shoot me, it was that bad. I had read in the Merck manual that opioids are routinely given for severe Shingles pain…….but not for me…..because as an inmate I deserve to suffer.
For the three days I was there in IPC, I amused myself with general observations. My Isolation room was secured with a Kotex. The guard rarely checks on the patients. The nurse and CNA are overwhelmed with 17 patients on a 12-hour shift. My nurse call button was broken. Take the Kotex out of the door and yell I guess. Meds are sometimes forgotten. Meals are sometimes forgotten. The general dirtiness of this so-called hospital….albeit a prison hospital.
I had some interesting conversations with Dr. I, a real Board Certified M.D., on the Health Provider that contracts with the DOC. This is a part of what he told me. “America incarcerates its mentally I’ll, they don’t treat them. I’m appalled by the Contract Killers the DOC hires. They are out for profit and nothing more. They don’t give any preventative, humane, or compassionate care for the inmates. There is no pain med other than Tylenol-3. Their pharmacy is located in Indiana, and it takes forever to fill a prescription.”
I can attest to that, as I have been waiting for three days for the antivirals I was supposed to take for the Shingles. It’s important to take them immediately after the blisters appear. I was also promised a topical pain reliever, Lidocaine, for the hamburger meat that is now my back. Nope…..still in Indiana.
So I exist this way for three days in my Kotex secured Isolation room. Finally, I am deemed well enough to return to my room…..sans Tylenol-3, because they think inmates will sell them on the yard. I was hoping for some rest but discovered the guards had packed up all my stuff and put it in Property. Yet another hot trip back to the Administration area to retrieve it. Is anything easy here? Noooo. The Property guard didn’t even have my stuff labeled by name. It had been unceremoniously dumped in a corner.
Well, guess what happened? Yes! Things were missing! I’m short 2 fundraiser (the kind you buy) sheets, 2 fundraiser towels, and a washcloth. My friends put the word out that whoever took them should immediately return them. So 24 hours later they miraculously appear. Meanwhile, the pharmacy finally gives me my long-awaited Lidocaine and antivirals. A week late.
The upshot of this whole sad tale is ‘I was put in my place as an unworthy human being by the AZDOC. They never let an incarcerated person forget that they consider you pond scum. Do I see any hope for Arizona inmates? No, I don’t.