I haven’t had the best couple of days. Late Friday night, I had fairly bad abdominal pain for the fourth night in a row. By ‘fairly bad’ I mean painkillers didn’t help, I couldn’t sleep, and it really hurt. My breathing had changed to more of a puff like I get when I hypo. So Ben drove me to the local hospital. After a couple of hours and some morphene later, I was examined, had an ultrasound, an overnight stay and blood tests and an X-Ray in the morning. Come 10am, the doctors decided I needed to see a specialist in the nearest surgical hospital, over 2 hours drive away. So there I went strapped in to the back of an ambulance.
When I got there, I was left in A&E for three hours before a doctor got around to me. She said I would need an ultrasound again – (by a ‘professional’ this time – someone who’s full time job is to ultrasound) and so I waited. By this stage I’d gone all day without food. My Lantus had kept me at 5.0 mmol/L from my admission, through to 3pm, which I was impressed with. But after that I dropped slightly to 4.3. I said to the nurse, ‘if I’m not getting the ultrasound soon, I’m going to need just a tiny bit of glucose’. I wanted just a little bit before I had a hypo, but I couldn’t have a jelly bean. She went away and came back with a Glucose drip. Shit. I told her I wouldn’t need much and that I’m really sensitive to Glucose. She either wasn’t listening or didn’t understand. Half an hour later I tested my blood sugar and I’d jumped to 7.9. Panicked, I unhooked the large glucose bag and went to ask her if she could detach me. She went to ask the doctor. When she came back she said that between 4 and 8 is a normal level, so the doctor wants me to keep it on. I said ‘But I’ve just gone up that much in half an hour, it’s just going to keep rising’. The nurse assured me it would level off and that I needed it. 15 minutes later I tested again. 9.4. I started to panic again and said ‘I really think you should take this out’. She said it was fine, that 20 is a normal number and people aren’t harmed at that level. That’s when I burst into tears. I was a Type 1 diabetic being force fed glucose. Because my levels are so good and relatively low for a Type 1, I would enter Diabetic Ketacidosis (DKA) at a lower level than other diabetics…So the glucose in my blood would have kept rising to the point that it would become acidic and put me into a coma, with death as a likelihood. I wasn’t going to sit and let myself be killed by some ineducated nurse. Thankfully, she swapped the Glucose drip for a regular drip, but only because I was upset, ‘not because it’s medically necessary’. I was so angry.
A little later on, they moved me up to a ward where I was met by a nicer nurse. Unfortunately for me, I was still waiting for my ultrasound by 8pm, and my sugars dropped to 3.6, just as we got the call to go down to ultrasound. Dammit. Another Glucose drip went in, but the nurse slowed the dosage. In and out of the ultrasound I went and she stopped the drip when I reached 6.1. By this stage, I was allowed to eat for the first time in over 24 hours but the only available food was a sandwich. I took my insulin and sucked it up, setting my alarm for in 2 hours time for an inevitable correction. I corrected at midnight, setting another alarm for 2am. As it happens, a nurse came to check my blood sugar at 2am just after I’d done it myself because I was being put on ‘nil by mouth’ again (no food or drink) and I was 5.1 mmol/L so she came back with a sandwich. I said I was fine and declined.
Come morning, I was at a nice 4.2 (they didn’t think so) so they put me back on Glucose, but at a lower dosage again. The doctor came around at 9:30am and said I could come off the drip and eat again – but it took 1.5 hours after this for a nurse to come back around and see my notes. She gave me some water but said the lunch cart would be another hour, but offered me yoghurt or toast. I said I don’t really eat carbs. She asked what I’d usually eat and I said ‘bacon and eggs, meat, fat, salad, just not carbs’. She then she offered me fruit. I said I didn’t eat fruit (She’s a nurse, doesn’t she know fruit has high fructose content?!) She said the diabetic food option is probably a bowl of pasta. I said ‘that is not a diabetic option!’ to which she said ‘I know’. So I was on the verge of tears again, telling myself to man the hell up.
A nurse popped by in the mean time and asked if I was diabetic. I said yes. She said ‘insulin required?’ I wanted to say it depended on what the meal would be, but I think what she meant to ask was ‘insulin dependent?’ – either that or I thought I’d end up with a plate and a syringe full of insulin on it.
‘Coffee?’ ‘Yes please.’ ‘Milk or sugar?’ Sigh.
When lunch arrived, I was scared to lift the top off as I saw an orange on the side of the tray. Lifting up I saw liquidy scrambled eggs, one slice of bacon, a tomato and toast. I ate the slice of bacon with my water and sat there for another 3.5 hours before anyone came to see me.
Now the doctor wants to keep me in for a third night. But she said I could leave the hospital for a wee while if I felt up to it. I made a break with it to get food. As soon as I left, my stomach pains increased again, but I had a delicious, decent, meaty, low carb dinner. Because my BS was 5.1 when I left, the nurse told me to be careful and to have carbs. Sigh. I came back with a BS of 5.1. She said ‘you are quite good with your levels aren’t you’. Yes! Yes, I am! Now please have faith in my ability to keep my own blood sugars stable! It’s quite easy to do without carbs! I wish I could’ve said that. Instead, I said ‘yes, they’re always stable. I have the HbA1c of a non-diabetic.’ She said ‘Oh, good’. I don’t know if that meant anything to her. She walked away, leaving my hospital food on the table (Roast beef, gravy, yorkshire pudding, mashed potato, peas and a fruit salad…they couldn’t have fit any more carbs on that plate if they’d tried).
So here I am, lying in my hospital bed with unexplainable stomach pains, nurses and doctors that don’t have a clue about Type 1 diabetes and an inability to maintain my blood sugar levels without unavoidable carb and glucose intervention. I also just have my phone, which is why my final Diabetes Blog Week post is delayed.
Oh hang on, the nurse is coming around.
‘Hot drink?’…’Coffee please’...’Milk or sugar?’…