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The Man at the Mall

July 23, 2007

On Saturday, after spending the entire afternoon at Jersey Gardens outlet mall, I realized I had forgotten to buy some camisoles at Old Navy. So off I went to the ridiculously huge mall that is the Garden State Plaza. When I got there, I realized it was just early enough that I would be bored if I went home (no Internet and no TV – I’m writing this at work on a Sunday), but it was late enough that I need to eat something pretty soon. I decided my course of action would be to watch the latest Harry Potter. After purchasing my camisoles, I went down to the food court to buy a sandwich to sneak into the movies (shhh, don’t tell!).Just as I got in line for Blimpie, I noticed a sleepy, heavily-perspiring African-American man sitting with a bunch of security guards standing around him.

Red alert, red alert.

I glimpsed a Mott’s Apple juice on the table next to him, so I at once gathered he was a type 1 diabetic and that he was probably going to be just fine, since he was awake and had juice.

When I went up to the security guard, I asked if he was a type 1 diabetic and if he had tested. The female officer said yes, he’s a diabetic, but that everything was fine and thanksforyourhelpnowgoaway. I asked again if he tested. She said wehavetheparamedicsontheirwaythanks. At that point, another woman came over and asked if he had tested. Which just irritated the two officers even more. I finally went up to the man and asked if he wanted to use my glucose meter. I think the man was a little embarrassed by the scene, and he weakly smiled and shook his head. A couple minutes later, his wife (I think) returned with food, so I asked her if he needed to test, but she just asked him if he needed to test and he again just shook his head. With food and his wife back, I knew the man was going to be fine, but I am still irritated by yet another person assuming they know more about how to handle the situation than an actual diabetic. I mean, honestly, you would think they would appreciate a little help.

  1. July 24, 2007 12:09 AM

    I actually had a similar situation a while back at the mall around the corner from where I live. What annoyed me most was the conversation I had with the paramedics, who when I asked if they wanted some glucose (dextrose) tablets, told me that orange juice was the only acceptable treatment for a hypoglycemic reaction. I then explained that for a variety of reasons, the most notable being the fact that the sugar in OJ was primarily fructose, and therefore took longer to get into the bloodstream, and the paramedics informed me that what what he was taught in school therefore I must be mistaken. I left a little bit disgusted, considering that the next step would have required a dextrose IV drip, not a fructose IV drip … geez … I think the data backs me up more than it does his logic!!

  2. RichW permalink
    July 24, 2007 3:33 PM

    Allison, this post and Scott’s comment makes me want to wring a neck or two. Both of your experiences defy logic. You have a meter that can tell the man what his sugar is and the intellects around you say no. Scott explains the reasoning for using the tablets to supposedly informed, intelligent paramedics and they disregard his reasoning. I’d love to hear from others who have had similar experiences.

    About ten years ago I got a phone call from a young woman who attended the same church I attended. I had known the woman since she was a little girl. She knew I was a diabetic and called me because she had just arrived home from the hospital with her 10 year old son who had been diagnosed as a diabetic. She was given instructions on how to administer insulin, a prescription for insulin and needles, and an appointment to see an endo later that week. She was in a panic. She was calling me to ask if I would come to her house and talk with her about how to treat her son. I said yes I would go over the paperwork she had, talk with her about testing his blood sugar, and explain how to treat reactions. She thanked me and asked me to wait until she talked with her husband.

    I was a little confused about her reaction to my offer so after we got off the phone I called her dad. He said that her husband was wary of other men being in the house especially in an advisory capacity. Anyhow, she did call back later and whispered to me that her husband said no. I owned a shotgun at the time which I used to win many turkeys at the local turkey shoot. I seriously thought about trying my hand at shooting another type of turkey. Of course, I would wait until I was low so that I could plead temporary insanity.

    Thank you for highlighting an area of real concern for so many of us. Most of the public and many medical professionals know nothing about diabetes or they’re seriously misinformed. Another concern is the lack of training new diabetics get in many instances. The same hospital that young woman went to was where I was hospitalized for a week to be trained on how to take insulin. They spent two days getting my blood sugar at normal levels, another day showing me how to use the needles, and then I stayed two more days while they monitored my progress. The 10 year old was born the year I was in the hospital. What happened in 10 years?

  3. July 25, 2007 2:49 PM

    Too bad this stupidity isn’t limited to just diabetes – people refuse good heart felt advice in many capacities on a daily basis.

    Not me though – thanks for the heads up on DESA Alison, but I’ve been a member since day 2 of diabetes :).

  4. July 27, 2007 4:38 PM

    You did all you could, and you did the right thing. He really needed to know his numbers to see if that was what was really the problem. In emergencies i get a little more cred when i tell them i’m a doc. You should tell them you’re a diabetic and YOU KNOW BETTER!

  5. Teri S. permalink
    September 2, 2007 9:45 AM

    Hi. I am a paramedic in South Carolina, and I wanted you to know that not ALL paramedics think like that one that Scott had the unpleasant experience of meeting. I have been in EMS for over 10 years, and the first thing I do is assess the situation–this means talking to the patient and the family member. If I know for a fact that there is a ready supply of glucose tablets, you can bet I’m going to use them. However, if there are not, then the next step would be juice with ADDED sugar. Of course, I know that sugar does not make sugar, but it will boost the BGL enough to make the patient coherent enough to where he can eat food without getting choked. Please don’t think that all paramedics think the way that one did. There are a few good ones left.

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