Don't Get Arrested. Ever

I was recently arrested for public intoxication. I had had a little to drink, had checked my blood sugar, been low, and not treated, and then had a lot of bad luck. I was wearing my medic alert bracelet, but other than that had nothing with me - i had just walked away from my friends to make a phone call, and left my meter, extra sugar, insulin, etc with them.

I don't rememeber a whole lot of the night. I know that I was arrested when i was super low, and had to call a friend to ask her what my birthday, place of birth, and last name were. The officers cuffed me and put me in the back of the car, and drove me to the precinct, and then finally called EMTs. The EMTs checked my blood sugar (at least 1/2 hour after I had not been able to remember my last name) and wouldn't tell me what it was. Then they left, and the officers kept telling me I was fine, even though I was pleading with them to let me test again, telling them that it would take about 15 minutes to go from normal to seizing. They wouldn't let me test, and for some reason they transferred me to the county prison.

I don't remember getting there at all, but once I was there, I had to fight with someone to let me keep my medical bracelet. I woke up in a jail cell the next morning. I hadn't eaten for 12 hours. They gave me breakfast, but told me I could not get insulin until the nurse has checked me in, so I didn't eat it. Then they moved me to a bigger cell. One of the people in that cell told me that early that morning, there had been a bunch of commotion, and EMTs running to my cell, so I'm wondering if I did have a seizure that morning.

Finally the nurse did check me in, and asked me what meds i take. I told her I take 20u lantus at one pm every day, and humalog on a sliding scale. i told her i test every two hours (which is true.) she told me "nobody tests that much. you don't need to test that much. here, we might test 3 times a day, before you eat. testing that much is strange." She sent me back to the cell. They brought me lunch, but again, no one would get me insulin. Every time I got someone's attention, they acted like I was just trying to get them to let me out.

After not eating lunch, I started banging on the cell door and saying "i need insulin." It took 45 minutes for someone to acknowledge that i was there, and another ten to get me to the nurse. It was almost 2 pm. The nurse asked me if I had eaten, and I told her no, that I can't eat without taking insulin and no one would let me have insulin, so I hadn't eaten. She said "you haven't eaten, and you want me to give you insulin, but then you don't eat again until 6 tonight." I explained about basal and bolus, said I need both, but she refused to give me lantus! She checked my bs, it was 70. I told her I should have about 4 g of carb, and she wouldn't find anything for me, just sent me back to the cell. Luckily, the officers came right after that and told me I was going home.

It was another hour and a half before I got out to a car with my meter and could test, and when I did I was 52. The whole thing was a nightmare. It makes me sick to think about all the people with diabetes who are incarcerated for longer periods of time, not being allowed to test, having seizures because they can't treat lows, or doing irreparable damage to their bodies because they aren't getting insulin.

The point is - medical id is a good idea, but the cops might not believe it or care about it. Don't get arrested.

Ajax,I was thinking this sounds like a really bad dream-then I saw the word nightmare,that word fits this better!

Ajax,I have to add,even though you know,Please never drink and drive,I lost someone because of that.I am not saying you did that,just had to add it.Take Care and I am sorry you went through all you did.

dude that is a freaking ridiculous story!! I can't believe what ASSHOLES they were to someone who is diabetic, that makes me really mad. and I seriously think you should file a complaint or do something, because they definately put your health in jeporady and something even worse could have happened! and the fact that you don't even know if you had a seizure?! they wouldn't tell you?! that is completely wrong. Please, please, please do something about this so it never happens again!!

i would definitely look into getting a lawyer or something and file a complaint. Maybe do an internet search or two and see if anyone else had a similar experience and if they were able to file a complaint or even take it to trial. Your health was definitely at risk!

Please contact your local newspaper and tv stations if you aren't embarrassed to have the publicity. If you can afford a lawyer or get free legal aid, I would recommend filing a legal complaint. You may want to get your endo involved to explain what T1 is, the need to test and inject frequently, etc. I would also write down the timeline of events as best you remember them right away before it gets fuzzier. Legally, I'd imagine you'd be able to get access to your records (police, jail) to have the names of who did this. A lawyer could hopefully help you get those records to see if you did have a seizure which would support a legal case against them. *&^&%*, I'm so angry for you!!

Wow, Ajax.

I remember reading an article a couple of years ago about a famous bodybuilder (?, I think that's what he was), who was arrested by officers who thought he was drunk when in actuality he was experiencing a low BG.  He had some very similar experiences and ended up suing the police dept. if I remember correctly.  I'll see if I can google the article to find out the outcome.

Doug Burns... Mr. Universe... 


Definitely worth checking out his story! He's also fantastic to hear speak, if you ever get the chance!

http://www.diabeteshealth.com/read/2007/05/10/5179/update-on-mr--universe-doug-burns-arraigned-in-court/ (Just one of the many stories related to the incident out there...) 

Wow man, that's an scary story to read as a fellow Type I.   Makes me angry too.  Hope you are able to file a complaint.

 

BP

I have done outreach work at a local jail...helping people there, etc. The general policy goes like this: they arrest you and then immediately stop any medicine you may be taking. To say that these places are Medieval would be flattery. It's like the fifth amendment, the part about cruel and unusual punishment is, well, just a pretty idea and not something that must, by law, be protected. I met a young man w/T1 who had been in juvenile justice for several years...when the nurse didn't come in, he didn't get insulin. When I talked to him, he had that washed-out look that you get when you have been in poor control, and he was so skinny that his wrist bones stuck out. In Lexington County, in a privately owned (ie. corporately-funded warehouse for human beings), they have a chair that they strap disorderly people into until they are quiet. It is built at odd angles.

I loathe that you were another person who faced the kind of rampant and flagrant violations of human rights that I have seen and heard of through people who've made decisions (and sometimes haven't done anything at all) and ended up being thrown through that abhorrent circumstance. Your writing about what happened, however, sheds some desperately-needed light on this situation.

Please, please fight this. Please. Legal Aid here is South Carolina provides advice, but I would also suggest contacting the American Diabetes Association for legal guidance and the American Civil Liberties Union. You went through something that I have seen other people endure...it makes me really grateful for what I have. If I can help you in any way with this (should you decide to make that spotlight a lot brighter), let me know.

I am at your disposal.

Contact your local ACLU, there is an office in Northampton.  They seize on property on your person when you first enter the system which is why they were trying to confiscate your ID bracelet.  Were you officially charged with a criminal offense or did they take you in to so that you could sober up and then release you?  Also, were you issued a sobriety test whether in the field or at the station?  Typically a person picked up on a "public intoxication" charge is a 'danger to themselves or others around them'.  Hypoglycemia can easily be confused with intoxication due to the similarities in symptoms.  To say that your local law enforcement is in need of major changes would be an understatement. 

EMTs wouldn't have been able to leave without treating a low. Call the ambulance company and request a copy of your records. In fact call an attorney they can get the records while you were incarcerated and determine if if there was neglect or if your defense for the charge can be low blood sugar. Although I assume the also preformed a sobriety test what was the level?

Medical ids are only good to help ordinary people recognize what might be wrong and treat. EMTs, paramedics, doctors, hospitals, and fireman can not treat based on the person wearing a medical id. They have to confirm low / high blood sugar before they can do anything. In the case of the nurse at the jail she wouldn't be able to give medication without confirming a prescription with a doctor. Does Lantus require a prescription?

I was in jail once for about 4 to 6 hours while being booked into the house arrest program. They put me in  my own cell and I freaked out about feeling low and had to beg to be tested. Took them about 45 minutes to an hour to get a nurse to come check my blood. Turned out I was just freaking out and my sugar was within normal range.

This is why you should always know you Doctor's cell number. If you inform them you have a medical condition that requires treatment and give them the contact information for your Doctor they must confirm it.

Honestly though, I don't think you would have grounds for a suit. They gave you food, but you didn't eat it. You have to use common sense low blood sugar can send you into a coma within hours high blood sugars takes 3 - 5 days before you reach coma levels.

Yes Lantus requires a prescription, at least here in the wonderful commonwealth of VA.  As for having your physician's cell number on file, I guess that is really dependant upon your physician.  I asked once and he stared back at me as if I had asked could I beat their family pet with a bat.  I would disagree with the assertion that he has no grounds for a suit.  I would say he has one for formative change in the penal system.  His detainment could very well have been unlawful leading to his inablility to communicate fully because of the mental distress put upon him.  I am venturing that this occurred on a weekend and their ability to confirm his condition was hindered by this. 

ajax -Do not let this go. It does not matter what you were arrested for. I would start by making a formal complaint at the police station, and as someone else said contact the ACLU. Contact any Civil Rights groups in your area.

It does not matter that you did not eat when food was offered. You may not of even been in the right state of mind to know what you were denying. What you do know is you need insulin to survive and you were deprived.

As others recommended, contact the American Diabetes Association.  They have a special page devoted to this type of problem... http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-forecast/sept2003/jail.jsp

For quick reference, the bottom of the page lists 1-800-DIABETES as the contact for people denied medication while incarcerated.

Ajax is not kidding when he talks of this story. It is scary what happens in the prison system. Im on a forum where we write Prisoners regularly. They tell me of nightmarish things on the inside when it comes to diabetic inmates. A lot of the inmates are missing toes and some had full amputations of their legs and some even their hands. Some are virtually blind and sick all the time and are the target of inmate attacks for being weak and sick. The prison gives little care for diabetics in the system. Eating only 3 times a day. and if you can not afford "commisary" which is food you buy aside from regular meals. But you have to have money in an account to get it. if you dont have "commisary" and you start to go low and need food....you have to wait it out til the next meal. and if its after 6 pm. There are no more meals until 7am the next morning. Think of not having any more food for 13 hours when you are going low.....you Die.

Ajax i am happy you are safe and secure and back in your residence. Be careful man. That was a close one for you.

Get a lawyer!

 

sue their @#$%@#$% faces off.

PS my average for the past 31 days has been 11.7 times a day for checking my blood sugar...

An update - I have gotten a lawyer to dispute the charges. He asked me to have my doctor fax a letter stating that he's my doctor and that I have diabetes, and he is totally sure that he can get the charges dropped.

 

I sent him an email this morning asking him about access to medication and what I should do. I will call the ADA tomorrow and see what their advice is as well.

 

It's so great to hear this support - just what I needed after the awful experience. And also, great to know that I wasn't lying when I said testing 10x/day wasn't too much!