The code to be not denied with sick call request was well-known. By prisoners who had come and gone. And to those who would stay forever behind those bars.
Especially late at night when another day was just starting. The phone rang next to where I was sitting and immediately, I recognized one of the units calling. Stating the specific problem or complaint from a newly-housed prisoner, the person on the other end of the line wanted my approval if it would be okay for them to send him…
“He complained of difficulty breathing and having chest pains!” she explained. Both of us knew…I couldn’t say “No!”
He was breathing okay when I was observing him as his tall, lanky figure entered the Infirmary. A few, dry coughs were the ones noticeable. I immediately let him in to the exam area so I could start getting his vital signs. Without asking. I wanted him to tell me the symptoms himself.
“Ahhh….This place…Since I got here, I started having this cough and it’s like…it’s like…I have a lot of saliva or something and it’s hard to swallow…”
I remained silent. He kept blaming the “jail”… “This place…”
No mention of “chest pains.”
I asked if he had sinus allergy. He denied it. He said it was the first time he had those symptoms. I explained…whether it was in the jail or outside, it was the season for allergy sufferers as the pollen count was high daily…If not, he could be developing the symptoms. I tried not to be rude. It was easier for me to just tell him not to commit a crime…So he wouldn’t be in “this place” in the first place. Or…that…he was not having any “chest pain”. He could have put a sick call. The normal process inmates do by putting a request slip until the sick call nurses would get in each unit to do the sick call there in the morning. Night shift nurses only tried to see life-threatening or urgent cases. But most of them, even minor colds wanted to be seen right away.
I gave him some “allergy pills”. I told him to put a request slip for another sick call if those medications would not help.
“Drink a lot of water, too, Sir,” I added as he got up and thanked me and slowly re-traced his footsteps back to his unit.
I thought I saw myself in him. Quick to blame God for any suffering. Instead of me listening to His Word, I demanded for Him to give me what I needed and wanted. Instead of trusting in Him, I wanted to solve some problems my way. My strength. Despite me knowing I couldn’t do it on my own.
Help me Lord. To always trust in You. To always remain joyful despite the trials I face. To remember that I am not alone and that You are always there for me. Helping me go through each storm in my life. Increase my faith Lord to help me overcome the “Impossible” that are not to You. I thank You Lord for Your endless love, grace and mercy. I know I need you...Always...In Jesus’ Name. Amen.