Back in May I went to the Atlanta Federal Prison Medical Unit. I needed to make a request of the medical staff.
The prison manual states that requests for non-emergency medical assistance should be made during “Sick Call.” According to the sign outside the medical office, “Sick Call” occurs daily starting at 7 a.m. That is the time listed.
The reality is, “Sick Call” occurs whenever a doctor or nurse announces it. Some days “Sick Call” is not held at all.
I was lucky on this morning. There was “Sick Call.” And it was held on time. After showing the nurse my prison ID card, she asked, “What is wrong with you?” I replied, “I have been suffering pain on my right side. It’s caused by the bed. The bed tilts in the middle and the mattress is too thin. May I get permission to have a second mattress?”
The nurse looked at me for a moment and then asked, “Anything else?”
“Yes,” I said. “These prison boots are causing me pain in my legs. I suffer from leg pain at certain times of the year. I am suffering from it now. And these boots are aggravating it. I need permission to wear a ‘soft shoe’ like a tennis shoe during these periods of leg pain. So I will not be out of uniform.” (We are required to wear green shirts, pants and boots during the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
The nurse smiled, looked at me, and said, “No, we are not here for your comfort.”
I was angered by her callousness. But then I realized she was not a comfort, she was not any help, and she did not care!
I did find comfort in the Bible shortly after this incident. I read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. “Blessed be the God and Father of all mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
It dawned on me that I was asking the wrong person for help. I prayed to God. I sought God’s help. Did I get a new mattress? No. Did I get a “soft shoe” pass? No. But what I got was freedom from the pain caused by the poor excuse of a mattress. And I got relief from the leg pain caused by the prison boots. That is all I wanted in the first place, freedom from pain. So I got what I wanted, asked for and needed when I made my request to God, the Heavenly Father, who is our comfort, who does care for us and who helps us.
Bernard Addison is serving 46 months for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. Questions or comments can be sent to:
Bernard Addison/ 44863-074/ FPC-Atlanta; Dorm D/ P.O. Box 150160/ Atlanta, GA 30315