I saw her again…Down on the ground. Shaking uncontrollably. Breathing rapidly. Shallow breaths. The day before, she was not feeling well from the heat when she played out in the hot Rec yard in her unit for over an hour. Giving her plenty of cold water to drink, she got up and uttered that she didn’t want to bother any doctor or nurses. She was feeling alright. But bother staff??? She did… Many times. She was becoming well-known to staff because of her different medical emergencies. Except… Some were not truly urgent in nature.
Like that time…I knew she wanted attention. I had already addressed her possible mental health issue the day prior and had referred her to the prison’s Mental Health Services.
“Sit up! I know you can!” my voice filled that tiny cell as her head shook and her arms tried to flail.
She sat up immediately and the action confirmed that she wanted attention. To which, her manipulative behavior was becoming irritable to the unit’s deputy. The deputy’s eyebrows arched as she glued her eyes on her with anger.
“Do you want to hurt yourself?” she yelled loudly.
“No! You don’t know what I have gone through!” the inmate replied back, remembering she hasn’t been shaking her arms and when she saw me observing her, tried to shake her upper extremities harder.
“Well, I’m gonna’ put you on Suicide Watch!” the deputy yelled even louder.
I tried to catch the deputy’s stare and once we locked our eyes, I motioned for her to get out of the cell. My non-verbal cue suggested I wanted to speak with her. Alone…Away from the manipulative inmate.
“You can’t put her on Suicide Watch!” I cautioned. Her angry stare at the inmate now staring back at me. The deputy’s lips remained closed. Trying to make me change what I just uttered. I sensed she was fed up with this inmate who always wanted medical attention.
“If her behavior is upsetting, do you have a cell where she can be housed alone?”
“No! My Ad-Segs (individual cells) are full!” she replied quickly, remaining upset with her tone.
Without moving her head anywhere, she said, “Well… then, if you’re not going to put her on Suicide Watch, I’m gonna’ write her up for faking her emergency and that’s the only reason I can separate her from others.”
“But you can’t do that!” I warned.
“Because even though her medical symptoms might not be an emergency, she still has an obvious mental health issue and that’s why she’s doing this. I had already referred her to the Psych Doctor yesterday.” (It was the same deputy who was present when I assessed this inmate that day).
She didn’t say anything. She bobbed her head down a bit only to look up and look me in the eye again. But she knew…I wouldn’t back down on my decisions that would not support what she wanted to happen. I wouldn’t. Because that was the right thing to do.
“Tell you what…”I kept looking through her dark, brown eyes…
“I’ll come back and try to get an order for medication to help her calm down until the Psych Doctor sees her tomorrow. I’ll tell the Charge Nurse so she can be the priority in the morning to be seen.”
She remained silent. A mixed feeling I was sure. Of unbelief that I wouldn’t back her up with her decisions and relief there was a solution to keep that inmate quiet and calm.
I told the Charge Nurse what happened so she could be aware of the struggle I had to go through. Not so much with the inmate. But of all, with Custody. We should be working together instead of against each other. I went back to that unit and gave 2 small, white pills to which the inmate was grateful for. Grateful because her attention-seeking won. But she didn’t know. What would be coming. When the Psych Doctor would see her, that behavior had to stop.
“Thank you!” I heard a soft voice coming from a female deputy whose back was turned as she typed something on the computer’s keyboard in a far corner as I was heading out.
“You’re welcome!” I responded and gave her a smile. I knew. She would remember me.
Not for the quick response to her radio call for medical assistance…Not for calling the doctor to get an order for some calming medication. Not for going back to her unit just to medicate the inmate.
She would remember me…For going against wrong decisions. For standing up for what was right…
And so it must be with our Christian walks. May our loyalty to God not be like clouds nor the morning dew that dissipate early. For God delights in one’s loyalty. We are given His truth so we must stand for what we believe in. His truth! For loyalty to God weighs more than our sacrifices.It is not always easy. But by His grace...Only by God's grace...
Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.- 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)