I am a full-time college student and one of my minors is Criminology. I have been taught theories on causes and prevention of crime, police policies, police actions and sanctions for improper actions, criminal laws and the correctional system. I have a passion for the criminal justice system even with its faults. Often I have a strong stomach for what I see, hear and learn, but I was introduced to something unsettling last semester, and this past week I got to see and hear an encounter that brought me to tears in class.
Last semester, my professor was talking about her friend’s brother who is a Type 1 diabetic, who was inured by the police during a police encounter while he was low. This past week, I got to see a video in which I could hear the officers wrestling a diabetic (Type unknown to me), who was suffering a low, to the ground because he was not cooperating with the officers. In this encounter, the citizen ended up with a broken wrist from having been wrestled to the ground. After the officers had gotten the citizen under their control, they then were able to understand what was happening to this person, and they then proceeded to get him medical attention and the treatment that he needed.
I have heard several stories about incidents like this since last semester. When the article and video were brought up in class this past week, I got into a heated discussion with my instructor because he is a retired police officer. He said that this is not uncommon and that the only training he received for recognizing a diabetic was that their breath would be different. I immediately corrected him by saying that if they are low their breath is not going to be different. My instructor said that this was how he was trained, and he doesn’t know how they are being trained now about these types of situations. The fact remains that officers are allowed to use force when the person they are dealing with is being combative. It is the responsibility of the police departments to change how they train their officers to recognize medical conditions, such as diabetes, so that situations like the ones I have talked about become fewer and far between.
I am writing about this because we all have a fear of our loved ones getting hurt and here is another example of how they can get hurt. Until training has been changed, I have some suggestions on how to keep our loved ones safe. Try to keep the Medical ID bracelet visible. Keep something visible on the wallet or purse that shows that they have diabetes. I would also insist that they have something on their vehicle that gets the point across that there is someone with diabetes on board. I know that this action doesn’t seem right and may invite some other problems, but I would suggest doing it because it may prevent what I am discussing to occur.
Rehearse with your loved ones what to say should they feel low and are in need of assistance. I understand that when someone is low, it is very hard for them to think clearly and even they cannot always recognize the need to get treatment. I have done a lot of this type of rehearsing with Deacon and 95% of the time he has a severe low he can and does let someone know that he is having a problem. You can never know which time would be the time that they can say that they need treatment or not. But the times that they cannot ask for help become less likely the more this is practiced.
Aside from what we can do to prevent this upon our loved ones or ourselves by teaching them how to convey their need for treatment when they cannot advocate for themselves, speak to your local police department about their training. Volunteer to train the department on the signs and what to do if they should find themselves in that situation. Ask how the department will go about ensuring that their officers will be trained so that incidents like these will not happen.
As a fellow criminologist, I understand the needs of law enforcement to protect themselves because they go into all situations with no previous knowledge of the situation so they are always on their guard but there has to be a way to meet in the middle in situations like these so that the police are protected but so is the citizen who is in need of help. I have heard about at least 4 cases since I was introduced to this in March of this year. That has only been in the time span of 7 months. With the numbers of police officers being hired and the numbers of diagnosed cases of diabetes growing, this needs to be addressed. I was torn to watch the video since I do understand what that citizen was going through. I felt awful for him and it spoke to me to do something about it within my own community and with Deacon. I have already spoken with Deacon about some things that I feel he should not do as a diabetic, such as drink alcohol, and when he is older I will talk to him about this too.
So please pass this message on. Get active in training officers. Take some of my ideas to make sure that the police know that they may be encountering a diabetic in need and not someone who needs to be subdued. The fact is in the time that it took for the officers in the case that I am speaking of to subdue the citizen, his hypoglycemic episode probably worsened. We all know that time is of the essence when we need to be treated and it is not to be wasted. The diabetes community is adamant about asking for a cure, asking for better treatment options, asking for fair social treatment for our loved ones with diabetes. Here is a social aspect that you may not have been aware of that needs to be addressed. Please try to make this part of what you are asking for.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Friday, May 18, 2012
Summer vacation is days or even weeks away and all parents are feeling the effects of their children’s excitement for it to start. I call this phenomenon end-of-the-yearitis. All of my kids are blowing off homework, procrastinating and doing anything they can to get outside as soon as they get dismissed from school. This excitement took on a new form for me because instead of it affecting homework and chores, I saw the signs of end-of-the-yearitis when it came to Deacon in how he took care of his diabetes.
Deacon has slowly been taking more care of himself during the school year. ( He seems to have hit the independence point of being 7.) He has been testing himself, bolusing himself and, as of a month ago, he has been trying to add the amount of carbs on a calculator. I have even allowed him to stay at home with his oldest brother while I go run to the neighborhood supermarket. He has called me while I have been there, and he and I have walked through BG’s, carb counts and bolus amounts. I have to say that he has been doing great until recently. That is when I realized summer fever has hit him but not in the way it hits a non-d child. Over a course of three days, Deacon had three separate incidents that needed him and I to have a sit down after each time to remind him of the importance of the rules. A consequence from one of these incidents was that he lost the privilege to stay home with his brother while I run to the store. I have also spread the word throughout the neighborhood that if anyone sees Deacon at their house or on his bike without his small backpack, then he is to be sent home to get it.
This has been a learning experience for me because I learned that summer fever can affect a d-child in unexpected ways. This also may help me when Deacon is older and forgetful of his diabetes care. Maybe I will be more understanding to the reasons why these things happen. I learned that it is okay to allow Deacon to take more control over is own care, and waiting for an “oops” was the best thing. He and I were able to discuss what happened and why he was getting the consequences that he did.
It was hard for me to relinquish some of the control because he was diagnosed when he was 2 1/2, but Deacon is the one who will be living with this so he has the right to take on more when he feels comfortable to be doing so, and I have the right to rein him in when mistakes happen. I can say that Deacon has been reined in until I feel that he can be more attentive to the rules. I will also keep this in the back of my mind for the future..Deacon will probably show signs of excitement in ways that his brothers cannot.
Monday, September 5, 2011
This week, my baby turns 7. I can’t believe he is going to be 7 years old. It seems as though he just turned 5 yesterday. I can still remember my surprise late the next morning after he was born seeing how much frizzy dark hair he had when I took off his cap. It was definitely a sign of what his hair was going to be like. It is curly and still frizzy. There are days I put the hairbrush down, throw up my hands and send him off to school with however his hair wants to behave that morning. He is still as bouncy as he was when he was a baby. He broke two bouncers and a johnny jumper when he was a baby because he bounced so much. He loves his older brothers and he looks forward to telling them everything after school. He seems to always have a smile on his face and will greet everyone he meets. He definitely walks to his own drummer and there are days I cannot seem to silence that drummer of his .
A stranger would never guess that this upbeat, boisterous, cute curly haired boy has diabetes and has had it for the majority of his life. It will be 4 1/2 years this month.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
As I drove away from the elementary school after I dropped off Sebastian and Deacon this past Monday the full force of starting school hit me. I was reminded, “This is what you have been working for these past few years. You finally did it.”
I have been attending community college since Deacon was diagnosed in 2007. I stumbled a bit on which major to take. Because I was afraid of not making enough money for myself and my sons, I took an attempt at accounting. After two semesters of taking business and accounting courses, I decided to swallow my fears and return to what I loved.
For those who do not know, I am majoring in sociology with a minor in criminology. I have also taken several psychology courses. I love to analyze and I am hoping to become a consultant in the criminal justice system. I want to help change the parts of the system that do not work. I plan on focusing on victimology and penalogy. My own personal goal is to get a PHD just to be able to say I did it.
The criminal justice field was a fluke. When I returned to school after years of not being a student, I chose to take psychology but the school I wanted to attend required a minor too. I thought criminal justice goes well with psychology, why not give it a try. I discovered a passion I didn’t realize I had. I seemed to have a knack at writing legal briefs, loved all the topics in my classes and I was passionate about the discussions I had with my classmates. I took several courses at the community college to save money and to get a lot of my gen. ed. courses completed. This also allowed me to remain close to Deacon these past few years.
This past Monday, I officially started this last leg to getting my degree. Several times a week for the next four months, I am not a mother, nurse, chauffeur, errand runner, secretary, chef or event planner. I am ME the student. I love being a student and I always have. I love to learn and share my own ideas.
What I also love is I get an hour after my classes to play whatever music I want in the car without hearing someone make a comment about it. So yesterday, I played Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Meat Loaf, Poison and Bon Jovi on my way home. Who knows which artists I will pick for after classes this week.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
One thing that I make sure to do on the first day of class, in all of my classes, is to talk to my professors about the importance of keeping my cell phone handy and the reason why. I haven’t had to do this in over a year since I took online courses for the 2010-2011 school year. I have gotten used to a range of reactions when it comes to this. There have been a few of my professors who knew all about diabetes so they were perfectly fine with me keeping the phone handy. Other professors understood the situation and were still okay with the cell phone. But there is one reaction I get that still surprises me to this day.
When I spoke with my professor, with whom I have two courses with this semester, he/she visibly paled. When Deacon was still a toddler I got that reaction a lot. I assume it was because he was so young when he was diagnosed. As he has gotten older I have gotten less of this type of reaction.
The effect of my teacher’s reaction didn’t hit home with me until I sat down in the hallway near my next class and thought about it. My first thought was, “Wow. I hope I didn’t frighten the guy/gal. It’s only diabetes.”
Okay now then that may get me in hot water on the net. I know diabetes is far more than “only diabetes.” I have experienced the worry, fear, anger and a range of other emotions. But when I thought that it was because of my surprise to the reaction along with the fact that I am several years down this road. I have come to understand that even though this is a demanding, emotionally tolling disease, Deacon could have more serious diseases. I have felt the twinge of sadness when I walk into a hospital and see a child or adult battling a far more debilitating, life threatening disease. I have had the reminder that this could be a lot worse and have taken it to heart.
And even with that thought I thought, I still kept a close eye on my phone all day and I also called my father more often than I normally would. I was like a mother who just left her new baby with the babysitter while she runs errands. Deacon was not far from my thoughts that day.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
There is nothing more worrisome for me than not being readily available to take care of Deacon. I have been no more than 15 minutes away at all times since he was diagnosed in 2007. This has always been comforting to me. Last year I was very fortunate to be taking online classes for both semesters. I was free to handle anything at any time.
Tomorrow I will be commuting to where I will attend college for, hopefully, two years. I do not know which is harder; attending classes and doing the homework while raising four boys, or letting go of the control I have had and letting others take care of Deacon. Right now the idea of getting into my minivan and driving 45 minutes away is pretty daunting, and I want to be like my son, who started middle school last week, and yell, “I don’t want to go.” Yes, I am being childish and I know it.
I spent last week writing list after list of phone numbers, hypo and hyper symptoms, simple protocols and meeting with nurses and teachers. Today I spent the afternoon talking with my father about different procedures for Deacon, having him practice with the glucagon and performing a site change so that my father could get more familiar with it. Everyone who needs to be informed has been and are prepared to take care of Deacon. I will have my cell phone with me so I can be contacted if really need be. I even contacted my teachers to inform them of my situation in case I get contacted during class.
Tomorrow I will put on my big girl panties, keep my phone close at hand and I will be calling to check on Deacon more often than usual. I will undoubtedly keep a closer eye on the time more than normal. In time, as the semester goes on, I will slowly relax and become more accustomed to having a less hands on role with Deacon during his school day. But in all seriousness, right now I am looking forward to Tuesday when I will be at home no more than 3 minutes away from his school!
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
On a personal level, I have been a single mother for 3 years and 10 months. Yesterday, in the eyes of the law, I officially became a single mother to my four sons. The settlement came after many years and months of worry, tears, frustration, anger and self doubt. When I entered my lawyer’s office yesterday, I didn’t hesitate signing my name on several copies of the document. I had already spent yesterday morning re-reading the emotional abuse and its toll on me that I had written down to remind my heart why the marriage had to come to an end.
As with many mothers, I tend to forget that I am as important as my children are to me. I have been fighting to keep my sons safe and advocating for them in all of this, that on occasion, I did forget the emotional roller coaster I had been put through as well. I may at times feel sad, lonely, jealous of happy couples but I will also no longer have to worry about whether myself or my sons are being abused or neglected.
The kids and I have come a long way since October of 2007. We have grown to become our own little family with our special quirks, talents, traditions and inside jokes. We have made our own friends. We have made a house we all fell in love with a home. I look forward to having friends and my sons’ friends over.
I have become a better mother since the separation. I have grown to be more patient with the kids. I enjoy having my sons and doing things together as a family. I laugh more with them than ever before.
Diabetes, ADHD, anxiety issues, school, bills and everyday life may exhaust me, but I believe in doing the best I can to continue on this road that I have been blessed with. A door has just closed but another one opened and I intend to make the most of it for myself and my boys.