Monday letters: Diabetic episodes can be terrifying

08/12/2013 12:00 AM

08/09/2013 7:54 PM

I was the wife of a Type 1 diabetic for 40 years, and I can attest to the severity of diabetic low blood sugar reactions, which can sometimes not be anticipated. I had to call EMT at least once a year to administer intravenous dextrose to my husband.

Most people do not understand what happens in the brain in these reactions. The reason diabetics are so often arrested is because their language and motor faculties simply shut down. You stutter and stumble, eventually falling to the ground, as if you’re drunk, unable to understand or react to any directions, much less questions. A coherent sentence is impossible; indeed, as your blood sugar falls, you lose consciousness, with brain damage or death a distinct possibility if blood sugar goes below a certain point.

I watched this multiple times with my husband, and it’s terrifying. After he came back to consciousness, he had no memory of anything he did or said. Don’t the police receive training on distinguishing the drunk and belligerent from a diabetic reaction? Considering the consequences (and with so many of our residents diabetic), it’s critical that they know the difference. My husband usually wore a bracelet or necklace indicating his medical condition. Did Dr. Lonnie Randolph have one? Did the police know what to look for in terms of behavior?

By the way, I read one report that Columbia city manager Teresa Wilson went to the scene because she knew of Dr. Randolph’s diabetic episodes and feared that the police might not. If so, this was a legitimate reason to go to a crime scene. We’re not talking about simple false arrest here; we’re talking about possible death. Once the police found out about his condition (and noted his history, which showed how out-of-character this kind of behavior was for him), the case should have been dropped immediately.

Pat Mohr


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