I was in the middle of another “sick call” with a male inmate and the other two nurses working with me last night were also seeing some other inmates. I quickly observed her breathing and with the way she rapidly was complaining without pausing already gave me a cue that she was not in a respiratory distress. Her trip from the unit where she was housed was far from the Clinic and if she made it without difficulty to whine at the Infirmary, I knew she could wait. I motioned for the other nurse seeing another inmate about her complaint as she was the other nurse this female inmate was complaining about.
As soon as I got done taking care of the male inmate, I motioned for her to go in on the Female side. As she was taking a seat, I briefly approached the on-coming deputy as they were having change of shift. I requested for his presence because I already knew that this inmate had a volatile behavior. It would be a risk for me to see her without the deputy knowing how her behavior could change into violence without moment’s notice. I wasn’t planning on being hit by an unpredictable closed fist.
“I’m not gonna’ hurt you,” she stated as soon as she saw the shadow of the deputy approaching from where we were.
“I never said anything,” I replied.
“You’re the one who said that. Anyway, it’s not only you, but it is our policy here to see and treat inmates with the presence of the deputy.” I explained.
Her high volume softened a little but the whining and the demands continued even as the deputy was nearby.
“Please give me the phone! I need to call 9-1-1!!!” she uttered in a higher volume again.
“We are the 9-1-1 here!” I replied.
“You need to send me to the hospital! The other nurse didn’t do anything!” she said in a much louder tone, I believed she intentionally did to make the other nurse who previously treated her hear her complaint.
I felt my energy waning at that moment as we had been busy seeing many unscheduled sick calls. Gathering the remaining strength I had, I caught her glance with my own and stayed that way. Eye to eye, her stare was piercing mine. But I didn’t want to look down. I stared at her without giving her the opportunity to wander and look away.
“Listen! From the moment you got here, you had been non-stop with your complaints! You don’t need to request to be sent to the hospital because nurses could see any obvious symptoms that would make us decide whether we need to do that or not! I would not tell you the symptoms…but, you don’t have them at this moment!”
Her boiling anger appeared it was about to burst, only to let the steam out as she saw the deputy took few steps forward and nearer to both of us.
“We are not refusing to see you. Any time you don’t feel good, you can request for us to evaluate you. But you have to allow us to make the decisions, not you making the decision for us! Go ahead, you can go back to your unit now!” I commanded.
“What’s your name?” she demanded. (Usually, I would tell the inmates my last name. But this time, I knew it was senseless to give in to this request knowing she was unstable).
“I’m the nurse!” I replied.
“I’m gonna’ find out about your name,” she threatened. “I’m going to report you.”
“Go ahead!” I yelled back.
“So, they would know the things I told you! You can’t lie! The deputy was here the whole time,” I warned back.
Protection…I’m so grateful for God’s protection in my life. I knew I wasn’t battling with her. I was battling against unseen enemies. But they would never scare me knowing the Highest Power surrounds me.
“Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.” – Psalm 27:3 (NLT)
“But by the grace of God, I am what I am…” (1 Corinthians 15:10; NIV) (emphasis is mine...)