In A Texas Prison Medical Neglect Continues
By Amber Powell

Have you been keeping up with the recent reports of negligence by the Texas Department Of Criminal Justice health care provider? If so then you have read or heard what is happening on the Stiles unit. I must say that the poor health care, and the negligence,and the turn the other cheek attitude covers all the units,leaving masses of incarcerated women physically impaired, emontionally wrecked, and in cases like mine, permanently damaged within, physically.

I suffered when I was forced to defecate on myself. I was unable to control myself because I was given one bottle of magnesium citrate to drink and four Ducolaxes to prepare me for I.V.P. (an intravenous dye used for X-rays.) Because it was count time,the officer refused to let me use the bathroom.

After the I.V.P. I was diagnosed with kidney stones. It's been over a year now that I have been battling with the medical department, and my kidney stones have yet to be removed. Here's some of the history.

February, 2001, I went to Reception Unit for blood in my urine and back pain. Physician's assistant (P.A.) Russell diagnosed me as having a urinary tract infection, which he treated with antibiotics. On follow-up visit I complained that symptoms were still present.However, since now I was wearing make-up and my hair was combed,he commented,"You look fine to me,as a matter of fact, you look real hot" I accused him of being stereotypical and was kicked out of his office.

I wrote a formal complaint to our medical liasions, who made an appointment for me to see Dr.James West (the prison unit doctor) in March and stated that I was already scheduled to see P.A. Baker. My chart was passed on and thankfully, when I saw P.A. Baker, he ordered an X-ray to be done.

On April 12, I was scheduled to see Dr, Scott. She informed me that I had a kidney stone in my right kidney and she informed me that "they" like to make me and all prisoners wait six weeks to see if I'll pass the stone on my own. She prescribed me Motrin. On April 23, a urinalysis was done. Positive results followed showing blood in my urine. Then on April 26, a scheduled visit to see Dr.Scott was cancelled, due to some sort of personal emergency. About a week later when I did get to see Dr.Scott. She decided to do more X-rays. Finally,on May 2,the X-rays were done,and a pissed-off X-ray technician said she felt that the doctors should have already gotten the picture, she insisted that this was the last time she would do any more X-rays on me, she felt that time was being wasted.

Two weeks later I met with Dr.Scott again and she informed me that I had two kidney stones in my right kidney. She wanted to send me to the Hughes Clinic for an I.V.P. I was notified that my appointment was scheduled for May 22, yet when that day came, nothing happened. Three days later on May 25, I was sent to Reception Unit Medical and was asked why I had not shown up on May 22. I replied that no one had come to pick me up. Apparently, there had been a mistake in the scheduling, and a new appointment was made for May 29. I went to Huges Unit for the I.V.P. (that evening was the night I was forced to defecate on myself.) Well after that I.V.P. it was as if I had dropped off the face of the earth. No one ever called me back to tell me my results or if any action was going to be taken. I began to drop requests to see what happened.

A month later, on June 26, I saw a sick call nurse, who asked me what my symptoms were, and where I was feeling pain, ignoring the fact that I had been in severe pain for the past 6 months,had visited medical centers, and had X-rays. After explaining this to her and that she did not have to restart the entire process again she got me into see Dr.West. He read out the results of the I.V.P. to me and asked me what I wanted to do. I asked to have the stones removed,and he said okay and stamped my paper work to go to John Sealy Hospital in Galveston,Texas

Now six months has passed and my fiance called Dr.West for me, to find out why I had not gone to the hospital yet.Dr.West told him "the wheels of the Texas Dept. Of Corrections (T.D.C. turn slowly.") I was in severe pain and getting sick to my stomach and unable to eat.

November came and went and nothing had been done, I had not yet been to the hospital. Dr.West informed me that T.D.C. had up to six months to get me to the hospital. Instead of going to the hospital directly I saw the Dr, at the hospital via Telamed. He told me the type of stones I have could be blasted out with sound waves.Yet,the paper work had to be processed.

On December 7, I couldn't take the pain anymore, the stones were severly cutting me up, and I had to take a trip to Reception Unit medical. On the ride in the van,in which I was handcuffed and dropped off last, the driver mocked my crys of pain and insinuated that I was faking its severity.Doubled over in pain. I limped to the nurses station in tears and said I needed help.One nurse replied that what I needed was to be banged across the head. She stated that it was her Friday and there was about to be a shift change. They took my vitals, placed me in the waiting room and made me wait until the third shift was on, who didn't even know I was there until someone happened to walk up past the room and see me. All I received that night was some Tylenol

Ten days later.on December 17, I made another emergency trip to Reception Unit medical because of the pain and tissue I was passing in my urine.This time I took a sample of the tissue with me. There was still a lot of blood in my urine and I was getting more and more ill.

Only three days later, December 21, I was awoken very early in the morning by so much pain, that all I could was roll up into a tight ball, take small breaths, and avoid moving, for fear that the stones would move and cut up my insides. I was so hot. I was so sick. I felt like I was losing my right kidney, and my left one was aching too. I couldn't walk. Officer Strom called for a wheelchair to take me to the nurse in my unit. She gave me Tylenoland said she would try to get me to see the doctor that day. The result was another emergency medical trip. I sat next to Dr.West's desk as he hurriedly looked over my chart. He exclaimed that I was suppose to go have gone to the hospital the week after I appeared before the doctor on the Telemed, yet the paper work had never been completed.

It took one phone call to get me to John Sealy Hospital that day.I was taken alone on the hour drive,sadated and scared. Another I.V.P. was done at the hospital. The doctor woke me in the holding cell,to tell me not only did I have kidney stones in my right kidney but I had them in my left one too.He said, "I'll have to ask my boss what he wants me to do now," and left.I was admitted until December 27 and no surgery was performed. I was discharged after six nights and placed on antibiotics.The day of my discharge,nurse White informed me that my medication would be admitted into the prison computer, however the next day when I went to the pill line, there were no medications listed listed on the computer for me. Here I was, kidney stones in both kidneys,an infection from them cutting me up inside and no medication.

Here I'am writing this on January 3,and still nothing has happened.I did finally receive some antibiotics. Futher stones are now present and not only am I without a doctor but I was going to graduaie next year with an associate in business management, but am physically hindered from making it to school. The damage done to my kidneys is permanent. The pain is messing me up emotionally from having to endure it for so long. I walk contorted so that the stones won't move around. Kidneys do not repair themselves. Blasting stones is an every day procedure in society, yet I have not recieved any treatment and they are very large now. I call the ones in my right kidney my twins, Cain and Able. I'm taking suggestions for the ones in the left.

I have sent formal grievance letters to numerous officals and am still awaiting a reply. I refuse to be quiet. I came to T.D.C. at age 22, when I was healthy,strong and free of medical problems. I'am 33 now with only 14 months of time left on paper. My health is rapidly decreasing as I get closer to my release date.

I have lost many rights, but I shouldn't lose my right to medical care. It's time to hold those accountable on whom we depend every day of our lives in here.

Editors note:Amber Powell whould also like to inform everyone that the officer who forced her to defecate on herself is no longer working in the dorms,she is now working in the kitchen
If you want to contact the author, please send letters to:
Amber Powell #662930
Sycamore Unit 1401 State School Road
Gatesville,Texas 76599