You can find more Memories posts on the Wednesday 5/15 Link List.
Today we’re going to share our most memorable diabetes day. You can take this anywhere.... your or your loved one's diagnosis, a bad low, a bad high, a big success, any day that you’d like to share. (Thanks to Jasmine of Silver-Lined for this topic suggestion.)
It’s easy for me to share the good stuff. It flows onto the page with barely any effort. The hard stuff is much more difficult, but I think it’s necessary too. So today I’m sharing a story of ketoacidosis and a very different me from the person I am today.
It was back in June of 2003. Pete and I had been engaged for a month. We had a big weekend planned - a friend’s wedding on Saturday, a Van Morrison concert on Sunday, and the day off on Monday to sleep in and rest up. But Sunday night things started to go awry. As "Van the Man" performed I started feeling pretty cruddy and exhausted, so much so that I was actually grateful when the concert was over. On the way home, I threw up all over Pete’s car. And things went downhill from there.
I was home sick for several days, and a lot of it is a blur. I couldn’t keep anything down, but my body kept trying to vomit. I barely had the strength to drag myself upstairs to the bathroom. Everything seemed to have a golden halo around it. My sleep was restless and filled with weird dreams and hallucinations. Pete stayed up late into the night searching WebMD to figure out what to do for me. He went out and bought me a meter, because I hadn’t tested my blood sugar in many many years. He kept checking my blood sugar but all it ever said was “HI”. Yet I was sure I would just get better, and I refused to see a doctor. That changed after a phone conversation with my mom. As we hung up, I said “Okay, I love you, bye.” This is going to sound really strange, but when she heard “I love you” it was a sign to her that something was wrong. You see, I do love my parents and I’m close to them. And they love me back, I know. But we don’t ever say it on the phone. It was such an out of the ordinary thing for me to say that Mom come right over and told me she was calling 911. I protested, I insisted I didn’t need them, I refused to go to the hospital - but before I knew it I was in the back of that ambulance headed for the ER.
My endo at the time came to see me and told me I was in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). I had no idea what that was. It was at that moment that I realized how much I didn’t know and how important it was for me to make a huge change and start taking care of myself and educating myself. I mean, really, how could I have lived with diabetes for almost 25 years (at that point) and not know about DKA. When I was finally released from the hospital I bought Diabetes for Dummies and started trying to learn about my disease. I started seeing my endo every few weeks (instead of every few years, like I had been). I started to realize that she wasn’t the best endo for me when I would see only 300s and 400s on my meter no matter what I did, and yet she continued to reduce my insulin doses. She was sure I was having lows I wasn’t feeling and the high numbers were rebounds.
A few weeks later I started getting sick again. I called the endo’s office and was told that I didn’t need to go to the hospital. The doctor on call told me to just eat a banana to settle my stomach. I hung up, vomited in the sink, and headed to the ER. I was just on the edge of another bout of DKA, and I was admitted for a few days. My endo was away, so I was visited by an endo from another practice who was covering. Within a few minutes of conversation with this doctor, I realized the poor care I was getting and knew I would be making a switch to that practice and my new endo - who I am still seeing today.
Ten years later I am in the best diabetes health of my life. I’ve carried an A1C below 6.5 since I went on a pump and CGM in 2008. I don’t know everything, but I feel like an informed and educated patient. I went from never wanting anyone to know I have diabetes to never shutting up about diabetes. I am not perfect. I still have problems and crappy numbers and fears and days when I’m ready to give up. But I also have good days and I have a wonderful support system both on-line and off. This is the silver-lining to my DKA story. It’s why I believe what happened in June of 2003 happened for a reason. And I want anyone who is going through a dark diabetes time to know that if I can turn things around, anybody can.
PS: And the fact that Pete stuck through me through all of this, including putting up with a seriously smelly car for a while, and married me one year later? Yup, he's one of the best!