Perhaps I tempted fate 4 weeks ago with my proud celebration of going 2 years without DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis). Maybe I should have prepared better for when it hit again. I just didn't expect it so soon... not when I had everything under control.
It all happened so suddenly - One minute I was in bed, listening to friends drunkenly singing along to a guitar downstairs as I drifted off to sleep, the next I was stumbling around getting dressed and launching myself out of my partner’s house, clutching my stomach and telling him not to stop me from leaving.
Somehow I made it home and crawled to the bathroom on the ground floor. My mum slept soundly two floors above me and couldn’t hear me vomiting crying or reassuring myself that the sickness would pass. At that stage DKA hadn’t crossed my mind – I thought it was a stomach bug, but as the hours went by the vomiting continued. 5, 10, 15, 20 + times… each time I was feeling more dehydrated, finding it harder to catch my breath and I was becoming weaker.
At I accepted that I couldn’t get through this on my own (even with Iain the pump chugging away). I fell into my mum’s room and she immediately called an ambulance.
The next 24 hours were a blur – I went to A&E and was taken to resus so I could have my own nurse. The intensive care team came to asses me and made plans for another move.
On admission I was leaning towards DKA - Blood sugars were 20.4 ketones were 3.5 and PH levels were 7.33 However IV fluids and insulin were not correcting my levels and after an hour or so this resulted in sugars of 30, ketones of 4.9 and PH levels of
7.21 - I was later told this was because the first response who had
initially cannulated me had some difficulty, leading to fluid collecting in the
tissue of my hand and arm instead of doing its job sufficiently, causing cellulitis – bring on the Simpson style chubbiness and days of IV antibiotics to
|Cannula number 2 of 6|
One of my biggest worries was what to do with Iain the pump. I’d only had it for just over 3 weeks and I didn’t know what to do regarding sickness and temp basal rates (TBR) yet. I’d increased the TBR to 130% the night I became ill (this was a guesstimate) and I’d left it at that rate ever since. No one that was looking after me knew what to do with an insulin pump, but what worried me the most was that I wasn’t given any direction with it at all. Should I leave it on or take it off? No one knew! A sliding scale had been set up with 9 units of insulin an hour and Iain was still pumping away at 130%
Dangerous? Yes I’m sure it was but I was barely conscious and couldn’t make the decision for myself. The staff were concerned, I could see that, but I could also see that they weren’t confident in giving me pump advice – it was a treatment that they didn’t come across often.
13 litres of IV fluids pumped through me I woke up the
next day to sugars of 5.5 and I turned Iain’s TBR down to 50% (again a guess) as my sliding scale was still up.
My diabetes team came to see me and advised me to stop the pump. Hurrah for
people who knew about pumps!
|My arms & hands took a needle battering so the Drs had to cannulate my feet instead!! Ouch!!|
The next day I was told that I was out of DKA but I was still acidotic and as I was still vomiting the sliding scale stayed for a further 4 days. I spent the rest of my time on a ward and I was told that I had food poisoning. I was completely exhausted and I felt worse than I ever had done with DKA – not just physically but emotionally. I barely spoke to anyone but was comforted by the fact that Partha (a consultant from my d team) came to see me every day. Although I haven’t been under his care for 2 years now he still came by every morning and checked on me, he sat at the end of my bed when I had my head in my hands and tears in my eyes, he told me that it wasn’t my fault and that I would get better again… It was nice to get that extra mile… that verbal hug.
I’m home now and feeling a lot better than I did. I ate solid food for the first time yesterday but I still feel like my tummy has been run over… reversed on and run over again. Iain the pump is happily pumping away and my sugars have settled nicely back into their target of 5-10.
My mood is lifting as I’m getting better but I have the worry of DKA’s on my mind now. Call me naive but I thought this would stop… now that I’m looking after myself I thought I’d seen the end of my hospital admissions. I thought about giving up... I felt that I'd let myself down by being sick... let my diabetes team down... I'd become an unplanned admission statistic that they try so hard to combat. Then I realised how much I'd be letting myself and others down if I didn't get back up, dust myself off and try again. There's always something to come back and fight for, even if I couldn't see it at the time.