My asthma was diagnosed after an attack I had when I was 14 years old; I’ve had it a long time. I’ve learnt to manage it really well; in fact, there have only been a few occasions where I need to use my reliever inhaler and I can’t remember the last time I’ve had an attack (more than 10 years ago?). You know where this is going…
The Print Shop had been doing a big printing job onto mugs (sublimation). They started off with several hundred ceramic mugs for staff and progressed to 700+ plastic mugs for the prisoners here. It went on for about 3-4 weeks. The sublimation process is meant to be done in a well ventilated area because it gives of noxious fumes; the Print Shop is not well ventilated.
So I attend the afternoon session and discover all the windows had been shut over lunch. Within minutes I knew I was having an asthma attack. Now. as my asthma is so well controlled, I no longer carry my reliever inhaler with me; after all I live in an environment where you are never any more than a couple of minutes away from medical staff. A couple of minutes right!?
I inform the staff, who inform ‘Control’, who make a call to Healthcare to attend; not an emergency call, mind. Control would not allow me to go back to my cell to use my inhaler as they were doing ‘roll check’ (a head count). Healthcare never attended! An asthma attack is actually meant to be treated as an emergency and they never attended.
As time went on, it got harder and harder for me to breath, panic set in, uncharacteristically, I got very angry with staff that my life was being put at risk (I later found out that uncharacteristic behaviour can be a sign of hypoxia). Over 30 minutes after I first raised the alarm I was moved back to the wing and, after using my inhaler, got the attack back under control; still no Healthcare. I had to request to see them; plus, they did no follow up thereafter.
This prison seem determined to finish me off; this is the 4th attempt.
It was a scary experience and having no value placed on your life is not unusual in this prison; I’ve watched several guys waste away and die as their illnesses are not treated with any sense of urgency.
Be happy, be safe.
Graham Coutts, 18th July 2018