On the 10th October 2017, I thought for the first time in my life Diabetes had got the better of me and I was going to end up missing out on watching my baby grow up.
Now you may think I am being a drama queen…which maybe I am…but even writing this down makes me cry! I briefly wrote about it on my Instagram page two days after it happened. At that point I am not sure I had processed it properly. I just felt extremely guilty about what I had put everyone through and disgusted that I had allowed my diabetes control to get that bad. What sort of mother was I going to be if at 7 weeks old I had to leave my baby overnight all because my Diabetes had won to the point I was too sick to look after my baby.
Let me start this story from the beginning! As everyone knows I struggled with my sugar levels after Amelia was born – starting really when I went back on the pill. So the 10th October started out as everyday had and even though I was struggling to get my sugar levels down despite set changes I felt fine. Which is probably why I didn’t check my ketone level soon enough.
It wasn’t until the evening when James got home from work that I decided to check my ketones. I was messaging my lovely Irish friend at the time and have just scrolled back through messages to see what time it was; 7pm! (Quick shout out to her for being an amazing support whilst I was panicking ❤️).
So at 7pm my blood sugar level was 27 and my blood ketones were 4.8! You are taught if blood ketones go above 3 to go straight to A&E. Did I do this? Of course not! Amelia was 7 weeks old I didn’t want to leave my baby! I did a set change, correction and waited an hour, unfortunately although the sugars had come down the ketones has gone up to 4.9. A quick phonecall to my mum (❤️) and I was making my way up to A&E – praying I wasn’t in DKA.
It was heaving in A&E, I think I spent half of the time I was waiting to be triage either peeing or trying not to wet myself. There was also the usual A&E drama of a guy cuffed to police office making a bit of a scene. However considering the amount of people waiting I was triaged very quickly and taken to a assessment bay where they did bloods etc, before saying they were going to send me to majors. Apparently I hadn’t yet gone into DKA but I was borderline.
It wasn’t long until they started to wheel me towards majors, but rather than heading down towards majors I was wheeled into resus. This sent alarm bells off in my head and I think my mum’s as well. Meanwhile James was at home with our girl who was a tad grumpy – by that I mean screaming the house down.
I was seen by a lovely doctor who explained I wasn’t in DKA but they wanted to make sure i didn’t go into it but it would probably be at least 24 hours until I could go home. After I explained I had a 7 week old at home she said she’d do her best to get me home sooner. I also asked if I could bring her in, she said no and checked I wasn’t breastfeeding. I then burst into tears – the big fat ugly kind and ended up with two nurses and a doctor and my mum trying to consol me by getting me to show pictures of Amelia. Not going to lie I made myself feel better by bragging and telling myself that I had to make sure I looked ‘well’ so that I could go home.
Anyway unforunately luck was not on my side and the second blood test confirmed I was in DKA. I vaguely remember my mum asking if I felt okay and I just said I felt like I had indigestion but I hadn’t eaten since lunch. I also was dying for a wee so as I was attached to so many machines and drips they brought out a commode.
The biggest mistake I made was sitting up, when I picture what happened next I imagine it in slow motion. I got myself sat upright when I got that ‘I’m going to be sick’ feeling. I told my mum to get a sick bowl whilst trying not to panic – I’m staring at a sick bowl which she hasn’t spotted. She opens the curtains asking for one and I’m sat there trying to hold down the sick practically screaming at her trying to tell her there was one right beside her. Just as I chuck my guts up she puts the bowl in front of me…unfortunately she wasn’t quick enough to avoid me puking on my gown and her hand. It was just so much puke as well, pure acidic and at one point I felt like I was going to choke to death. So there I am puking, trying not to pee myself and convincing myself that I can’t tell them how crappy I actually feel otherwise I would never get out of there. I’m pretty sure once I stopped puking and they asked me how I felt I said ‘better now I’ve puked…’ I was lying so badly. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sob but that wasn’t going to get me back to my girl and man.
My dad arrived shortly after the puking incident and seemed surprised I was actually talking and awake (this confirmed my suspicion that my mum was panicking). He had come off a night shift to sit with me so my mum could go home and to bed – she had work the next day (well that morning by the time she got home – love you Mum and Dad).
Whilst this was happening poor James was at home worrying and looking after Amelia. We had discussed this prior to me going into hospital and although I would have loved him to be there holding my hand, Amelia had been a bit off all day and I felt she needed her daddy with her. It was just a bit rubbish because the signal in resus isn’t great so I wasn’t able to speak to him much.
Anyway back to my DKA journey…it’s a bit long winded but I’ll try to keep the rest short….
Luckily I am clearly good at painting a ‘I’m fine’ face on because they agreed to transfer me to AMU. So I got to the ward and they continued with flushing fluids down me and the sliding scale. Dad went home after sitting with me for a bit, then I was left waiting for a blood test. At this point I had so many bloods taken there wasn’t many good ones left so the doctor in charge of AMU that night came to do my next blood gas. She was lovely, we chatted about my daughter about how she would love children but hadn’t found the right man yet, how I had met James online. She seemed to know I needed my mind taken off the fact I couldn’t be with my girl.
After she went I was sat playing on my phone, whilst the lady in the bed next to me was snoring, wondering how Amelia and James was when I got some amazing news as well. One of my gorgeous friends had given birth to her little boy (One of Amelia’s BFFs). I can’t express how much of a little ‘pick me up’ that was.
The rest of the early hours of the morning went flying by and by the morning my blood sugar had come down and I was no longer in DKA…however I still had ketones. The AMU doctors had referred me to the Diabetes team and they felt I would be seen quickly and home even quicker. So when I got the text from my sister asking how I was and if I wanted her to come up I said no because I thought it wouldn’t be long until I was home.
Big mistake, my blood sugar and ketones kept going up and down and the Diabetes team unfortunately didn’t get the referral until after lunch…I think speaking to one of my amazing diabetic friends was what made them realise I was in hospital! I then got a phone call from them and they came up to see me and gave me strict orders that I couldn’t go home until my ketones were under 1 – they didn’t want a rebound DKA. (The picture below was taken at 3pm that day).
This took a bit longer than I would have liked. I spent 75% of my time in hospital sat on the loo peeing out the fluid they were pumping into me and crying because I wasn’t home. I would speak to James on the phone and then have to go to the toilet and cry – all I wanted to do was give see him and Amelia and give him a squeeze. We FaceTimed a few times (the power of technology) which gave everyone on the ward a bit of a scare because they couldn’t work out where the crying baby noise was coming from. I felt the whole day horrific if I’m honest.
Luckily at 6.30 not long after mum had arrived to sit with me I was able to go home. It took a little while before I felt back to normal and apparently the DKA was caused by hormones postnatally which apparently can happen but isn’t that common.
So that is my DKA story, the first DKA I’ve had seen been diagnosed so I managed a fair few years.
The experience has effected me quite a bit. The thought of leaving Amelia sends me into a panic not just because of something happening to her but because I’m worried something will happen to me and I won’t be with her. So far I’ve only left her with James and that’s been for a few hours here and there – but that is something for another blog post.
I’ve also found I get more panicky when I’m unwell and obsessively check for ketones. I am so worried I will end up ill and in hospital again. Which has been rubbish over winter because there is always so many bugs going round.
It also has made me wonder how I would have been if Amelia hadn’t been at home. She helped me push past the exhaustion and feeling like death which I think meant I got home quicker.
Also next time I will definitely say yes to my lovely sister coming to sit with me. I didn’t want to put her out after saying no to her earlier which is why I didn’t message her when I knew I wasn’t going home. But because of this it ended up being a bit of emotional, lonely rollercoaster of a day for me. If it wasn’t for regular messages from my family and friends and chats with James on the phone I think I would have been even more of a wreck than I was (although I’m not sure that was possible). So a big thank you to my amazing support network…you know who you all are! ❤️❤️❤️
Lastly I need to highlight how amazing the staff at Southampton General Hospital were! Having type one Diabetes has always made me realise how fortunate we are to have the NHS.
If you’ve read up to this point then thank you, I know it’s a bit of a long post but I felt the need to get it all off my chest. Having type one diabetes is really shit at times and can be quite scary but this blog is a lifesaver as means I can moan and rant and get things off my chest without bugging family and friends too much! I hope I didn’t ramble to much and it gives you more of an insight into my life with type one diabetes!
Lots of Love