I saw a post last night that a friend shared about a young girl with Type 1 diabetes that had passed away. Her pump site apparently kinked and she went into DKA and then had brain damage, so her parents had to make the heartwrenching decision to remove her from life support.
This led to a conversation with a couple of friends as I recounted my story of my first time in DKA. It will be forever ingrained in my head, so I thought I’d share it here as well.
I was in college 3+ hours away from home. And about 4 1/2 years post dx. I was visiting my boyfriend’s house and started feeling really sick. Started vomiting. To the point of not being able to get up off of the bathroom floor. I called the campus nurse and she told me to drink some Diet Sprite. Couldn’t hold it down. Water? Couldn’t hold it down. Anything I put in, came right back up. This is not a good combination for anyone, but especially for a diabetic. At the time I had NO idea how serious this was, but I was about to find out.
After several hours of this cycle… my boyfriend needed to go to work but didn’t want to leave me alone. My mom was coincidentally going to be visiting me that weekend so he called the hotel to leave a message for her, not expecting her for another hour or so. (this part gives me chills.) When the hotel front desk answered and he asked to leave a message for her, the receptionist said, “Oh, she is standing right here checking in.” She had gotten on the road earlier than expected. He told her I was very sick and he thought she should come stay with me, because I was too sick to drive back to my dorm.
She immediately heads over there (a 20 min drive that maybe took her 10 min) and saw it was bad. I was sooo soo incredibly sick. She said I needed to go to the ER, but I couldn’t walk. So they had to pick me up and carry me to the car.
She takes me to the ER, and I so vividly remember these details, but at the time, it felt like I was in an out of body experience. I remember laying on the bed in the ER room and the dr talking to my mom telling her it was a good thing she brought me in when she did, because I almost died. I remember thinking, “Why would he say that in front of me?” But I couldn’t speak.
Then a nurse came in to tell my mom they were going to draw a blood gas, and warned her that it was very painful, and said she may need to leave the room. I remember there was a child in the next room having a blood gas drawn, and was screaming so loudly. When the nurse put the needle in my artery on my right arm to draw the blood gas, she apologized for having to do it. And I remember it was one of the most painful things I’d ever felt, and in my head I was screaming in pain. But nothing was coming out of my mouth.
After some time, they put me in an ICU room. I remember them putting a catheter in me. And it was not at all comfortable, but again, I was still too weak to speak.
Eventually, they got enough IV fluids in me so that I was not as dehydrated and could start to function again.
I don’t know what caused my vomiting. I don’t remember if I had a stomach bug, or if my blood sugars were high. But it was a serious lesson learned that vomiting with diabetes is no joke.
I unfortunately went into DKA two more times in the next 18 months, but each time I caught it a little earlier, even though I still ended up in the ICU.
I don’t share this story for pity. I share it because I am incredibly grateful that I am here to tell it. Not everyone is as lucky.