As a Type 1 Diabetic I have heard of stories where diabetics have been mistaken for drunken individuals while experiencing an episode of hypoglycemia. This blog is not about a diabetic person being mistaken as drunk while in a hypo state it’s about a diabetic person being accused of assault and ending up in a custody suite at their local police station after an episode of DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis)
That person is me.
I was diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic in 1981 and have been using an insulin pump for a few years.
Roughly two years ago I arrived home after being out with a friend. Not long after getting in and saying I would pop the kettle on I collapsed. My friend knew I was diabetic and that this wasn’t normal and rang 999. I woke a few hours later in A&E where they informed me I had collapsed and been admitted with DKA. It later came to light my pump canula had kinked and for many hours while I had been out the pump had not been delivering the insulin I thought it was which resulted in diabetic ketoacidosis. I stayed in hospital for two days attached a new canula when my blood sugars were back in a normal range and the ketones had gone from my body. I went home with a follow up at my diabetic clinic.
Two weeks later I had a note posted through my door asking me to contact a particular police officer at my local station and his number. Shocked as to why I rang the number explained the note and who I was. The person on the other end of the phone said there was no record on the system of why the officer needed to speak with me but would pass a message to him that I had rung and ask him to call back.
Two days later at 10.45 pm the house phone rang it was the police officer thanking me for getting back to him. I said I couldn’t work out why he needed to speak to me. He then asked if it true that roughly two weeks ago a paramedic had attended my home address to which I answered yes I had collapsed and was taken to hospital due to diabetes. He then said the paramedic has accused you of assaulting him in his report. I froze and went numb I just couldn’t comprehend what was being said. He then asked if he could come and speak properly to me about the matter so I said yes he explained he was on leave from the following day and it would be a further two weeks till he came to see me.
The two weeks passed slowly and worryingly affecting my blood glucose levels due to the stress of not knowing what was going to happen. I had collapsed and woken in hospital but assault ? Me? I started seeing all the posters in the hospitals saying violence towards hospital/medical staff will not be tolerated and I was honestly worried sick as I have never been in trouble with the police or assaulted anyone! I rang my friend who assured me I had done nothing wrong she had stayed with me and had gone in ambulance with me when it arrived after the first paramedic called it as he had arrived in the ambulance car to assess. She said I had been in and out of consciousness and had not assaulted anyone.
The officer arrived two weeks later and said the first paramedic who attended had made the complaint saying when he was trying to take my blood pressure I kicked out catching him between the legs. There was no bruising or permanent damage but it had hurt. I explained to the officer that I was in a state of DKA and showed him leaflets on it from the hospital which I had obtained during that week. He said he had called the paramedic that morning and he didn’t want to take his complaint any further but as notes in notebooks were a thing of the past would I voluntarily go to the police station to make a proper statement to close the matter. I went as I felt I had done nothing wrong, nothing intentionally or actual ! I then sat in the police car and was kindly taken through back entrance to the custody suite where I was taken to a room with a tape recorder. I suddenly saw the cast of Prisoner Cell Block H in front of me …waiting…fear took over. Interview completed statement made. I had no recollection of anything. Then I was allowed home … On the way out the custody sergeant enquired why I had been interviewed in suite number 2. The police officer explained and the sergeant reacted by laughing saying what an utter waste of our time ! CPS would have thrown it out. He turned and looked at me asking if I was ok as I looked ‘pale’ I felt terrified but also saddened. I answered that I was relieved the ordeal was over but my diabetes was always with me and now I live fearing not only hypoglaecemic and hyperglaecemic attacks but also fearing the outcome of them not just medically but to my dignity!
I had collapsed and needed medical attention fast as DKA is very serious if not treated quickly. I felt like a criminal having to go through the process of making a taped statement even though it was voluntary. Why had the paramedic made such a complaint knowing I was unaware of what was happening slipping in and out of consciousness and I was DKA as that is why he called for an ambulance to transfer me to a hospital. He knew my situation did he not ? Or maybe he didn’t realise the physical symptoms /implications of DKA ? Or maybe he was having a bad day. Ok he didn’t know me personally doesn’t know I depend on the ambulance service to help in such events. He is unaware how I suffer with various other medical problems in addition to my diabetes. He doesn’t know how many times family and friends have called on my behalf for their help ( not always diabetes related) or how thankful I am that the paramedic service is there and we have access to it. But to be accused of assault while not in control of my own body or mind while I was in desperate need of insulin.
So although I should only worry about medical outcomes from severe diabetic episodes I worry about more than that because as in everything else through life I guess you just never know what’s round the corner …….
But sometimes on reflection I stop asking ‘why’ this happened because the fact is …it did…just as the fact is I am a Type 1 Diabetic. I am not afraid of my diabetes just rather weary of others preconceptions and ability to make me feel worse than when I’m hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic at times but such is life ! It happened I got over it (ish) and didn’t get handcuffed !