Healthcare in Prison.
One of my hopes is that I get out of prison before I lose all my teeth. We have two dentists here that do only fillings and extractions. If they cannot fill it, out it comes.
I had one of the molars in the upper left quadrant drilled and filled here several months back. At the time it was drilled, the tooth was not bothering me and did not appear to have any major problem. When the dentist was drilling the tooth it felt like he was using a jackhammer and removed a big chunk of tooth. As he filled it he told me that if the filling did not stay in the whole tooth would have to some out. Sure enough, the filling has fallen out, and I have now been waiting over a month to see the dentist again. Meanwhile I have lacerated my tongue quite a few times on the nice sharp edges of this unfilled tooth.
Yes, if I lose all my teeth the state does pay for dentures, but I hope I do not have to ever face that option.
I certainly feel more positive about typing the word “care” after the word “medical” than I do after “dental.” I have received two very extensive surgeries in the last year. The first was a major cleaning out of my sinuses, and then in May I finally had my deviated septum fixed. Both of these operations were done at a major medical center by doctors not employed by the Department of Corrections.
The doctor who works here has a great bedside manner, and told me one of the reasons he took this job was to enable him to still treat his private patients, many of whom are without insurance and have limited incomes to pay medical bills.
The few times I have been treated by the Doc, he always takes the time to explain what he feels needs to be done, what drugs I need to take, and is open to any questions I might have.
About a month ago I had what I would consider to be a near death experience. It was around 6:00 PM and I was dozing on my bed. I was in that semiconscious state where I could hear the noise around me but was hoping to drift off rather than be fully awake. I was on top of the blankets and wearing my socks. I felt like my one foot was wet, but I did not wake up to investigate the cause of this sensation.
Eventually I woke up enough to look down at my foot to see what the problem was. At about the same time, an inmate two cubes over asked me what was wrong with my foot. I always wear white crew socks, and one sock was bright red. Yep, soaked in blood.
Now as I slowly became more aware, I sat up and noticed a sizable puddle of blood on the floor of my cube. I am talking about a foot in diameter, and it seemed to have some depth to it. In retrospect I wonder how many inmates walked by my cube and saw the pool of blood on the floor but did not alert the officer or attempt to wake me up. Had this happened while I was under the blankets, I am not sure what would have happened.
What had happened was a small vein "bubble" is very close to the surface on the top of my left foot. I must have banged it on the foot of my bed and it popped open. When I removed my sock, the blood shot out like a fountain. I immediately applied direct pressure and yelled out loud that I needed medical attention.
I was very concerned by the amount of blood on the floor, and was not about to walk anywhere. The first responder was not a medical person but a roving officer who had me wrap my foot in a towel and then put it in a plastic bag so that I would not get blood all over the place. The van does have a one piece plastic stretcher, but he had me walk to the van.
At this point I also had blood on both my hands and I was feeling somewhat lightheaded. By the time I arrived down at medical and the nurse unwrapped my foot, the bleeding had stopped. After washing off my foot and applying a gauze pad with some adhesive tape, I was set free to walk back up the hill to my dorm. At no point did the nurse take any vital signs. I guess the fact that I was still alive was good enough for her. Nor did she offer me any liquids to replace the blood I had lost.
The next morning I saw one of the doctors that covers when our regular doctor is out and he did not seem to feel this was any problem.
It is now four weeks later and I am going to sign up for sick call this week to see if I can get the regular doctor to take a look at it.
The following evening I celebrated my being alive with an extra large pasta and octopus salad complete with fresh tomatoes and green peppers from the vocational horticulture program garden that certain lucky inmates were able to pick from. They sell the vegetables to us other inmates that do not have the access to the garden. In addition to the fresh tomatoes, I added some chopped up sharp cheddar cheese, a can of mushrooms, a little oregano and garlic powder and boy was it good!
More on medical and dental “care” to follow.