The only thing worse than being in prison, is being sick in prison. Thankfully, I only experienced a few colds and allergies during my five years. But I knew of many folks who caught the flu and other major ailments during their stay. This article about a flu outbreak at a Federal prison in Lorretto, Pa. reminded me of that. Illness in prison spreads like wildfire. It can get so bad that the prison goes on lock down, prohibits visits and takes other extreme measures.
My advice for those preparing for prison is to get as healthy as possible before going in. Lose weight if you need to, exercise, start eating right and build up your body to help you fight off the numerous bacteria, viruses and other creatures floating around your cell. Also, when you get there, stock up on a few of the over-the-counter medicines available through the commissary. You should be able to get allergy medicine, cough medicine, antacids, anti-diarrheal and other medications to help you get through your sickness. Going to medical is an option, but it most cases they will just tell you get medicine from the commissary.
I ran across this quirky tidbit in the Houston Chronicle on what various Federal prison commissaries offer for sale to their inmates. From my experience, the commissary was a welcome source of comfort and at times a taste of the outside. I was able to get everything from thermal underwear (much needed for the freezing winters in Elkton, Ohio) to a fan (much needed in Petersburg, Va. where there was no air conditioning). The downside is that it can get expensive and the pay in prison amounts to about 15 cents per hour.