When DKA and I met for the first time

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.

About Shannon

I am a wife, a mommy, and a Type 1 diabetic (since '92.) I have had two successful pregnancies - one of which was with twins. I wear an insulin pump- - off and on for 21 years; most recently on the Medtronic pump and Dexcom CGM. I am not a medical professional, nor am I giving medical advice. I am just sharing my day to day stories of someone who lives with this disease every day. My ultimate goal is to raise awareness.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to When DKA and I met for the first time

  1. Suz says:

    I am thankful your story has a happy ending. Your are in our lives for a reason, more than our friend.

  2. n1iwr says:

    Wow!!!! I’m sooo sooo glad ur here to tell that story!! I recently had a DKA experience & it’s exactly like u stated!!! The vomiting is awful!!

    My prayers and thoughts r w this little girls family!!

  3. Scott E says:

    Wow, wow, wow! This does not sound fun at all. (And what is a “blood gas”?)

    In 35+ years (knock on wood) I’ve never been in DKA. As I read stories like this, it frightens me to think I may have been lulled into a false sense of security. Yes, I do keep a pretty close watch on my diabetes stuff, but is it really still possible that it could happen without me knowing and reacting in time? Am I underestimating and underpreparing for what may be inevitable? It scares me just thinking about it.

    • Shannon says:

      A blood gas is when they draw blood from your artery, instead of your vein. I’m not exactly sure the scientific info they’re looking for, and I’ve read there are recent debates on whether it’s even necessary when you’re in DKA. But all I can say is it’s incredibly painful because it’s a long needle and it has to go much deeper.

      I’ll be honest, when I went into DKA that first time I’d never heard of DKA before. I wasn’t even in it, to my knowledge, when I was diagnosed. The 2nd time was around a year later and I was on a pump by then. Had been fine all day. My college roommate was home, and I started to feel sick so I went to my room to lay down. She had to leave for a study group and it was late in the evening. I started throwing up. She came home a couple of hours later, and I was still throwing up. I knew it was starting to look like what had happened before, so we went to the ER, and again, my mom made the 3+ hour trek down to meet me at the hospital at 2 am. But my cannula had kinked that time and that’s what caused my high bg’s. I had only had the highs for maybe 3-4 hours. That’s how fast it happened. There have been many times since then I’ve been high for longer than that, and it didn’t throw me into DKA. I was put on oxygen and IV’s immediately and back in ICU for a week again.

      It’s scary how fast it can happen. And how inconsistently it can happen? I’ve had high ketones, and high bgs for hours.. and nothing happened. Yet, like my 2nd time, it didn’t take much time at all and I was back in ICU.

      My 3rd time I caught it WAY early. Again, only a couple of hours of high bg’s and I was checking my ketones and went to the darkest color and had the fruity/metallic taste in my mouth – that was my first sign. But yea, scary stuff.

  4. Pingback: DKA… almost. | No More Shots for Shannon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s