My First DKA Experience

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.




Scary Low Situation

I don’t know about you guys but, I feel like I’ve been sick way too many times this winter! I’ve had everything from a common cold, to bronchitis, to laryngitis & the latest thing being a stomach virus. This stomach virus came totally out of nowhere, without warning, & hit me like a TON OF BRICKS! Not only was I down for the count for a few days but it put me in a pretty scary situation with my diabetes. Here’s what happened:

It was a typical Thursday evening & I was eating dinner. I had tested my blood sugar & bolused my insulin to cover my carbohydrates. Suddenly, I started not feeling so well. I quickly put my dinner in the fridge & went to lay down. No sooner than I did that, I was hit with extreme nausea & diarrhea (yeah I know… TMI… oh well).  I was so overwhelmed at the time that I didn’t even think about the insulin that I had given myself to cover the food that was no longer in my body, because I was vomiting. Some time later I began feeling the effects of a low blood sugar. It was lower than I had expected it to be. The problem became that I was unable to treat the low because I was not able to keep anything down. The vomiting was out of control. I tired to slowly drink a juice box. Several times. I tried dissolving sugar on & then under my tongue. I tried fast acting glucose tablets. Nothing was staying down. All the while, I was testing & my sugar was going lower. Panic started to set in & I wondered if I should call 911. The whole time I continued to be sick & I continued to test. After what seemed like forever my blood sugar reading was magically in the 80’s! How was this even possible? I checked again just to make sure it was accurate. Sure enough, it was! I can only assume that my panic & anxiety (not to mention stress on my body from being sick) actually saved me. My body has always reacted to stress (physical & emotional) by causing an increase in blood sugar. For the first time ever I was SO thankful for that. Looking back, should I have called 911? Probably. Should I have had my Emergency Glucagon kit? Absolutely! This was a huge lesson learned for me, especially since I live alone!

A few hours later I was treated at Urgent Care & given several liters of IV fluids. My blood sugar quickly stabilized & thanks to the help of my family, I recovered in a few days. I did refill my Emergency Glucagon kit & that does give me some peace of mind for the future.

For those of you that may not know what an Emergency Glucagon kit is, there are some pictures below. Glucagon is a medication that works differently than insulin. It works by telling the body to release sugar back into the blood stream to bring blood sugar back up. It is an injectable medication (injected into the butt, arm or thigh) that works very quickly in an emergent situation. If a person has lost consciousness from a low blood sugar, they are unable to eat or drink anything to treat the low. They need someone to administer this medication for them while 911 is on the way.

In a way, I am glad this situation happened to me. It scared me enough (without terrible consequences) to make some necessary changes. I need to be better about taking precautions & making sure I have ALL of the supplies I need with me at all times. Whether at home or away, I need to be prepared. It’s wasn’t until something happened that I was able to recognize just how unprepared I was. When you know better, you can do better!

Love, health & happiness,

Jessica Lynn