After 11 years of living with and managing Type 1 Diabetes I experienced my first hospitalization. Last week, I was admitted to the hospital in Diabetic Ketoacidosis. This condition is potentially life threatening (if not treated in time) and occurs when your body does not have enough insulin. Since the sugar in your blood can not be used as energy, your body uses fat for fuel instead. The process of your body doing this creates acids, called Ketones. If this process goes on for awhile these acids build up in your blood. Acid in your blood obviously is not a good thing! This will eventually cause organ failure and death. Here were my symptoms when I arrived at the hospital:
- Extreme, insatiable thirst. I was drinking at least 2 gallons of water daily.
- Blood glucose was 632 mg/dL.
- Urinary frequency, urinating every 15-30 minutes.
- Confusion/”brain fog”.
- Intermittent nausea.
- Tachycardia (elevated heart rate), 145 bpm and hypertensive 200/100’s (elevated blood pressure).
- Weight loss, about 15 pounds in 5 weeks.
Luckily, I was not experiencing vomiting, abdominal pain or shortness of breath! This would have indicated more progressive acidosis. Upon checking my labs a second time it was apparent that I was responding well to the initial insulin and IV therapy. This meant that I didn’t need an insulin drip and saved myself an admission to the Intensive Care Unit. Phew!
The events leading up my admission is quite a long story that I won’t get into here.
My thirty hour hospital stay was an experience that will stick with me forever. Once my condition was improving I immediately felt like I didn’t need to be there any more. I suppose this is what happens after you mange your diabetes for 11 years and the control is suddenly handed over to someone else. There were also times of fear, loneliness, and frustration. I felt almost childlike, alone in my room late that night. Every time I closed my eyes, I heard a noise, kept thinking someone was walking in my room. I was emotionally and physically exhausted and couldn’t rest. The hospital staff took great care of me but I was SO happy when I was walking out of that place!
This experience has been my biggest hurtle yet but certainly not my only obstacle where Type 1 is concerned. I am so thankful that I listened to the signs my body was giving me and that it responded so well (and quickly) to treatment. Now, I have to dust myself off and start again.