Long-term Pain and Medical Neglect

by Chasity Williams

Edited by Warren Lane

From PHN Issue 21, Summer 2014

   I am writing to you because your newsletter has inspired me, and I’m hoping that you might submit my story. I’m currently at SCI Muncy in Pennsylvania and have been for two years for violating pre-release by leaving a DOC (Department of Corrections) halfway house (due to being sexually harassed by a staff member). Since I’ve been back at SCI Muncy, I’ve been fighting the medical department for proper treatment for chronic pain. I suffer from degenerative disc disease and severe sciatica from a work injury. I’ve been disabled since May of 2005, receiving benefits for my child and myself through the federal government. My main issue is pain relief and pain management, and I’ve been denied that here. I do want everyone to know that I became addicted to the drug called Oxycodone. However, that was ten years ago and I am no longer that person.

   I’ve been persistent with my complaints to the medical department, but each time I am shot down by the doctor, who says I am “pain pill seeking” because it’s in my medical record. I call that medical negligence. The medical staff here states they don’t treat long-term pain. But that’s false. They have over 20 inmates housed in the infirmary receiving long-term care. I get so angry and frustrated I just want to throw the towel in and lose this fight, but I am too strong-willed to give up. I always try to think long term and about the next female inmate suffering with me. When’s enough enough around here?

   I would like to elaborate on an accident I had and the treatment I received. I fell off the top bunk, banged my head in three different places and was knocked unconscious. I came to unaware of what had happened, although my celly was screaming hysterically because I was bleeding profusely from the base of my skull. The correctional officer arrived at my cell door and asked if I needed medical assistance. My celly said, “Yes, she’s bleeding from her head.” I couldn’t move my right arm, and I had severe pain in my neck.

   The nurse arrived and observed that I needed medical help immediately. Mind you, I have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. We were trained if anyone you’re treating complains of a neck problem, you are to put an immediate neck brace on them and use a back board to transport them. In my case, the nurse assisted in picking me up from the floor on my injured side. He then transported me in a vehicle to the medical department, where I was observed. I was given an ice bag and put in a room until the doctor arrived the next morning. When the doctor arrived, he assessed me, gave me staples in my head with no numbing meds, and sent me back to my unit.

   In severe head-injury cases, you are to be treated accordingly and observed for 24 hours, and a CAT scan or x-ray should be ordered. None of that happened. To this day, I have a numbing sensation in the crown of my head, and it tingles like soda fizzes in a cup when poured. I hope this letter reaches someone who is willing to fight for us on the inside to receive proper treatment without using our history of substance abuse against us. What’s important is who you are today, not the demons in your past. Please join me in this fight for our rights. We are human too.

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