Diabetes on Trial

Posted by mike on Fri, 04/05/2013 - 11:28 in

Mike Hoskins, managing editor of DiabetesMine, shares a story of when he had to endure some diabetes foolishness.

Before joining DiabetesMine, I worked at a statewide legal newspaper in Indiana and part of my beat was covering the courts. That meant I regularly visited local, state and federal courtrooms - sometimes to meet with someone and at times to sit in on a proceeding. One example of how my diabetes devices made "a scene" in court stands out from a couple years ago.

Unlike busier courts and others where security either knew me or didn't hassle much, one particularly smaller court that I visited one time brought blank stares from the security officers at the entrance who didn't seem to comprehend what an insulin pump was. They weren't overly impressed with my explanation that the device attached to me was a "medical device that cannot be removed." A wand revealed no danger, so they cautiously let me pass (though I could feel the glares as I moved on through).

The real fun happened once I got to the specific courtroom destination.

At the courtroom door, the bailiff told everyone: "If (the judge) sees you playing with a cell phone, it will be confiscated and you could be fined and held in contempt of court." I'd heard this many times before and waited patiently to enter the courtroom, not suspecting it'd be an issue. My cell phone is always silenced in court, as is my insulin pump.

But that day, once sitting in my seat and the judge had entered, my integrated pump-CGM got fussy and decided to start alerting me that a “Low Was Predicted.” I silenced the vibration that isn't the most discreet sound and minutes later it alerted me that I had in fact hit 70. Another snooze before another alert that I'd gone down more. After the fifth one, I started getting annoyed and wondering if I was, actually, as low as my CGM was saying.

I drew my pump from the holster at my waist and examined it for a moment, looking at the CGM graph that had hovered somewhere around 70 all morning. But now, two arrows were pointed straight down and the number on the screen was 58. Hmmm.

I felt fine, without any blurry vision or other signs of a low present. But I thought it might be time to check. Producing my blood meter from my coat pocket, I set my little black case on my leg and did a blood test. There was no one immediately to my right and the person a few seats down didn't seem to notice or care what I was up to.

The bailiff standing to my left was a different story, and he had apparently become very interested in what I was doing. As I fondled my pump and pushed some buttons, I saw him put on an "Oh, no you DIDN'T just whip out a pager!" facial expression. As I pulled out my meter case, he moved toward me.

"You need to give that pager or phone to me," he instructed, pointing to my pump now resting back on my belt.

Me: "It's not a pager or cell phone. This is an insulin pump."

Bailiff: "Well, whatever it is, you are not supposed to be using that during court. It's against the rules. If you want to use it, you'll have to leave the courtroom or I'll confiscate it."

Me: "Fine. If you want to call the paramedics when I fall over unconscious, I'll give you my medical device now. I'm sure the judge will love it when you and him are both sued because you don't understand what an insulin pump is."

He stared at me. I could feel his uncertainty about what to do - leave me alone, toss me out of court or slap some handcuffs on me for arguing with him. Though the moment didn't last more than a few seconds, I imagined him cuffing me and hauling me up to the bench before the judge for a whole other conversation.

Judge: "Son, you were instructed not to be using any phones or pagers while in my courtroom."

Me: "With respect, Your Honor, this is not a cell phone or pager. This is an insulin pump. It's a medical device."

Pointing to my pump: "That right there? It's so small, just like a pager. Are you sure?"

"Your Honor, it's an insulin pump. Trust me. I wear it all the time to help monitor my health. Kind of like a pacemaker. It is not going to disrupt anyone in court."

I imagined him eying me suspiciously, obviously taking a cue from the security guards at the front of the court entrance.

Judge: "I see. Well, just stop fidgeting with it. You are making my bailiff uncomfortable."

"Yes, Your Honor. I understand."

Of course, this conversation didn't really happen and I doubt it ever would. I've personally observed that most judges and most courtroom staff are great, caring people.

My issue this time was with the bailiff, who was hovering above me back at my seat and finally spoke, drawing me out of my daydream of standing before the bench.

Him: "Well, then, do what you need to. Just don't disrupt court."

Me: "I won't. Thank you for your concern."

For the record, my blood test was not 58 as the CGM arrows indicated - my meter said 75. Assuming the trend was correct, I found my sleeve of glucose tabs in my coat pocket and ate a couple to offer a little boost. All was fine.

Except for the fact that I had to endure another ignorant comment about my medical device – and an over-the-top bailiff who seemed to be taking his job way too seriously.

Just another day of living with diabetes.