I'm sure most of you have read by now that reigning Mr. Universe Doug Burns had a nasty run-in with police at a local movie theater here in the Bay Area while experiencing a nasty bout of hypoglycemia. Thinking him intoxicated, the policed wrestled and maced the poor man, whom Jeff Hitchcock of Children With Diabetes calls "the consummate gentleman."
But this situation is nothing short of shocking. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Aren't the authorities supposed to be trained to recognize hypoglycemia? Why do instances like these occur again and again? Remember that guy who got tasered a while back -- even though he was wearing very prominent medical ID, for God's sake? Or what about the woman last month who got tasered while experiencing a diabetic seizure?
And to think that some people contend that using tasers on diabetics in trouble is actually OK. Come on! OF COURSE being shot with a taser is potentially harmful. Naturally these people are suing: this article notes that more than 150 deaths have been linked to taser applications.
Luckily, there's also the voice of reason out there saying that law enforcement should be better equipped to deal with cases of diabetics who might act irrational or lash out during a low.
Let me put it this way: the worst low I ever had in public was in an upscale Euro-Asian restaurant in San Francisco. I made the mistake of dosing before the food came, which turned out to be far less carb-rich than I'd calculated. Meanwhile, I was happily enjoying my wine when suddenly, my mouth and feet seemed to stop functioning properly. Long story short, if my husband hadn't been there to quickly remove me from the premises, I might've ended up tasered and handcuffed. An ugly proposition.
I wear medical alert jewelry on my wrist at virtually all times, and I hope and expect that police and paramedics are on the lookout for this sort of thing. But maybe they're not...
What still shocks me is the level of ignorance in the general population about diabetes. New research shows that 80% of American adults dont know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and many think type 1 diabetes is curable.
In a country where 7% of the population has diabetes and growing -- and where soon, one out of two children will be at significant risk to get it -- why isn't there more education about it? How the heck do we expect to fight the epidemic, not to mention react properly to severe instances, if people don't know what they're dealing with?! GADS...
(Editor's Note 2: You just HAVE TO watch the PBS Frontline show "Diet Wars"; talk about knowing what we're dealing with!)