Book Up On Diabetes, Doc

by AVA News Service, March 10, 2011

Editor,

A Short-Term Death Sentence —

On February 19 while in Mendocino County Jail I was tested at 4am and had low blood sugar of 59. I was given 25 units of Lantus but I only took 15 units. I was also given one sugar tablet which I ate half of. I returned to my cell and approximately five minutes later I felt like my blood sugar was still dropping. So I ate the other half of the sugar tablet and I sat down on my bed. The next thing I remember was waking up in the ambulance on my way to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center's emergency room. The emergency medical technicians informed me that I had suffered from a diabetic induced coma due to an overdose of insulin.

During my stay in the hospital I overheard a doctor telling the nurse about some recent studies on diabetics. He said that a diabetic's blood sugar levels can run in the 200 range and be fine. Tight control, as previously thought, is not necessary as most doctors believe. However, low blood sugar levels have a major effect on brain function and can lead to irreversible brain damage. I was taking 45 units of Lantus a day, 20 units at 3:30pm and 25 units at 4am. This is three times the amount I take when I'm free. I am getting Humalog insulin to cover high blood sugar, not for meal coverage.

Approximately two and a half weeks prior to this I was rushed to the hospital for an extremely high potassium level, signs of my kidneys shutting down. This is known as DKA — diabetic keytone acidosis. Thankfully, the doctor was able to pull me out of this. Dr. Medvin and the medical staff at the jail were quick to blame me for this saying it was my commissary food that was causing the problem. This was completely untrue. First, my blood sugar barely improved after having my commissary taken away. Second, I ate the same things the night of the 18th and every night prior. My blood sugar has only made slight improvements because I wasn't eating a lot of the food to jail served me.

Dr. Medvin is not up to date on diabetic issues. In mid-January I had another episode of extremely low blood sugar levels and woke up in the medical room. My blood sugars have been a roller coaster ride ever since I came to jail.

My attorney looked into this matter and was told numerous times by the medical staff that they had my diabetes under control. The medical staff lied again when they told the court that my first visit to the hospital was for a routine doctor appointment. The truth is that I was rushed to the hospital at 3am in the morning because they could not get my blood sugar under control. My kidneys were failing. I almost died.

When my commissary was taken away, my grandmother, being concerned, called the medical staff to find out why. She was told that they couldn't afford another hospital room and that my commissary food was the problem. Again, this is simply not true. The diabetic meals in jail are a joke. The meals are exactly the same as the other inmates except for dinner where they replace the dessert with a can of sweetened heavy syrup fruit. This has a higher sugar content then the desserts. Almost every meal consists of noodles, rice or potatoes. All carbohydrates. This is all wrong — a diabetic's diet is high protein, high vegetables, low-carb, low sugar.

I wrote a grievance to the medical staff in an attempt to get my commissary returned. This resulted in a smaller modified list of commissary items that I was allowed. I gave this list to Sergeant Spears so she could pull the items from the food they took. Sergeant Spears then took it upon herself to reduce and modify the list even further and brought me a small handful of items. When did Sergeant Spears become a medical expert in diabetes? What gives her the right to overrule a clear medical evaluation? I then wrote another grievance to Sergeant Spears and the medical staff due to their vindictive behavior. This resulted in medical staff approving that all my commissary be returned to me. What is it that all of a sudden changed? Up to this point they blamed my commentary food for all their mistakes. Now what is their excuse? When I asked for my commissary back, all the officers and medical staff told me they could not find it. Since Sergeant Spears was the last one to see it I asked her about it during her next nightly walk through. She responded by laughing in my face and continued walking out the door. This happened twice — about a week apart.

A couple of days later I left the jail on a ten-hour pass for my grandmother's funeral. As I was walking out the door (half an hour late) Officer Mareno handed me a large plastic garbage bag with all my missing commissary. He told me I had to take it home, lieutenant's orders. This is discrimination. I am being singled out, plain and simple.

Going back to the first week I was booked into jail. For some strange reason I was put into lockdown for being diabetic. My grandmother called Sheriff Tom Allman to find out why I was put in isolation. Sheriff Allman told her, “He must have had a disciplinary issue; they would not lock him down for no reason.” After a few phone calls placed by Sheriff Allman, he found out that no behavior problems had occurred. I was out of lockdown the next day. Why was I put on lockdown in the first place?

The first time I was in the hospital, the beginning of February, Officer Masterson refused remove my handcuffs so I could eat. When I told him this was ridiculous, he said, “You can always eat in the jail.” The whole time he was pacing the floor complaining and worried that he would not be able to get off work at 7am. When we finally returned to jail I heard him tell another deputy, “I don't see why they don't just lock him down.” 45 minutes later I was locked down in medical isolation for eight days. I was told this was “to keep an eye on me.” Needless to say, I was upset about this and slept a lot. Never once did anyone wake me up to check to make sure I was not dead.

And not one of these episodes is a deputy find me. In the February episode, inmates Billy Rickman and William Cohen saved my life. Other inmates found me the previous time I was not conscious.

Everyone wants to believe that Dr. Medvin is the almighty doctor. What he says is never wrong. He understands and can control all medical problems.

This is simply not true! He is old school. All mechanics need training merely to keep up with technology advancements. This is the same for doctors, only twofold. How long has it been since Dr. Medvin has updated his diabetic training?

Also, I never had problems with my feet and legs swelling. I have now since coming to jail. On top of all this I have developed a rash on my legs that Dr. Medvin looked at. He said he didn't know what it was and would look into books and get back to me. What if it's contagious?

Bottom line is Lantus insulin is not designed to cover meal carbs. Humalog is. Humalog takes between 15-30 minutes to work effectively and is out of your system within an hour. I usually receive my Humalog an hour before meals. This simply does not work. Dr. Medvin is trying to use Lantus insulin to control high blood sugar due to high carb meals. This is causing extreme fluctuations in my blood sugar at different points in the day.

Outside of jail my blood sugar is by no means perfect. However, it's been over five years since I've been to the hospital due to my diabetes. It's happened three times since December 2 while under strict doctor's care. Even a blind person can see the problem!

Rodney Breen

Ukiah/Willits

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