Being Diabetic In Prison

This is a lovely guest blog by the one and only, Alice Kate! Her Instagram account is

https://www.instagram.com/alice_and_diabetes/

Alice works within the Prison and her story is just incredible, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!


I’m not a prisoner. I’m a prison officer, with type 1 diabetes! I’ve worked the landings for 8 months now and absolutely LOVE my job but it wasn’t all plain sailing to get there. I had to go through various phone calls, medical vetting, security meetings and ultimately one mans decision to let me start training for the job. 

For my medical vetting – a phone call with a doctor who apparently knew very little about diabetes – I had to describe all systems I use, how they work, contingencies for failures etc. He sent his report to HR who called me immediately and said they would be unable to facilitate me. I took the bull by the horns and wasn’t planning on giving up at the first hurdle. I requested a meeting in person where I could take all my kit in and explain every aspect – who knew this would be more difficult than managing a landing of 80 male prisoners! 

Fast forward 8 months and I’ve finally found a stable balance of work and diabetes management. I use the Omnipod Insulin Pump and Abbott Freestyle Libre CGM. Because of the nature of the establishment, I can’t actually keep my Omnipod PDM with me but I can have my Libre Reader for continual scanning. To use my Omnipod Reader I have to leave the premises and use it in my car, which takes around 10 minutes each way. This means I can only use it during my lunch break. Throughout the day I scan continually. I switch between MDI and Omnipod PDM (during lunch) which I have found extremely difficult to get used too. That’s without adding those things that change our blood sugar naturally such as adrenaline, running to alarms, stress, long hours on my feet, the list goes on. As you can imagine – it’s never a dull day. Some days I have “office days” which means I don’t have as much adrenaline or stress or physical activity. Because of this, I use the PDM to set temp basal rates – my office days are set to lower ratios. For the first few weeks of using a temp basal rate I was dropping into hypo every other hour. This in itself was a nightmare! Finding time to run and grab my sweets was a battle. 80 men constantly calling my name for help with a query or problem, I could never get away. 

Since my first day I’ve been very open with my diabetes to my colleagues, managers and also the prisoners. I constantly had questions of “miss, what’s that on your arm?”, “is that one of those things to stop smoking, miss?” from the men. I really enjoy telling people what the Libre is and how it works and explaining that there is more to diabetes than cutting out sweets. The majority of the men on my landing ask me almost daily if I’m okay or if I need anything. Some have come to recognise signs that I may be in hypo and come ready with a kitkat – which is amazing! And my colleagues are exactly the same, they cover me if I need to take 5, they have emergency sweets for me and are always ready to help if I need it. 

I feel empowered in my job everyday. I’m a female who runs a landing of 80 men. I’m a shoulder to cry on, I put out fires, I do first aid, I break up fights, I lock gates, I lock doors, I save people’s lives, I change peoples lives. And I am a diabetic most of all. 


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