Another Face of Diabetes

I usually protray the faces of diabetes as being “normal” looking. If you look at our Faces page you will see children playing, adults working.  You will see people that could be anyone on the street. Today I want to show you another face…
This face will not be pleased with me for exposing it but nonetheless, I want you to look closely.  This face with diabetes is terribly pale.  There are dark circles below the pale blue eyes.  Those eyes look hollow. If you look closely, you will see the shirt worn by this person with diabetes.  The dark stain at the top is either from vomit or more likely from the water that his hands were too shaky to hold.
This face with diabetes reflects the rages of diabetes.  He is high. He is hypergylcemic.  He is ketonic.  His body is running off of its own muscles and tissues to stay alive rather than the glucose brought to it through food.  His cells are starving as he vomits and urinates any liquids that enter his body before they can be used to hydrate or fuel his body.
This face with diabetes is the result of no insulin for only a few hours.  Despite multiple pump alarms to say that insulin levels in his pump were dangerously low, the reservoir was not refilled.  Despite a mother telling this child that he needed to drop into her house and get more insulin before he returned the next day, the insulin reservoir was not filled until it was completely empty. 
Thankfully he chose not to eat or things could have been much worse but it took eight hours to bring blood glucose levels back into close to normal range.  It took over eight hours to bring moderate ketone levels down to trace.  Had he have gone eight hours without any insulin, well the results could have been disasterous. 
Insulin is what keeps him alive.  After only a few hours without this life-giving hormone, this young man was terribly ill.  If left for a longer period of time he would have been fighting for his very life.
Diabetes is serious.  In case we may have forgotten, it rears its ugly head and provides faces of hyperglycemia.
Please support the Ecole Notre Dame du Cap Walk for Diabetes on June 18th.  Donations can be made online on the website.

The holiday that almost wasn’t….

Christmas is over. My tree is put away. The gifts are tidied and everything new has a home. The weather has been wonderful…barely a peck of snow to be seen so I decided to hop in my car and take my boys on a road trip for a week. We had planned to spend some time with loved ones elsewhere in the province so two days after Christmas we hit the open road.

I had spent Boxing Day cleaning and packing. By the time midnight came around I was exhausted but certain that I had all that I needed for two young men, two dogs, myself and life with diabetes. The cooler was packed. Insulin was stockpiled. Test strips and spare meters were safely tucked away. I had enough infusion sets to last two weeks and enough cartridges for a month. Life was perfect!

We set out early Sunday morning with the sun shining. This was going to be an incredible week. We had a lot of plans with great company. The trip was 8 hours long in the summer so I anticipated it being a little longer during the winter. With the lovely roads and Mother Nature on our side, we made great time. We listened to music, set travel basals, and ate clementines. Liam’s rates began to climb a little but he corrected and we continued on in holiday bliss.

Within two hours of our destination, I reminded Liam to test and noticed that he was just grabbing a meter and getting ready to lance his hand. I asked if he had washed his hands. He said no and asked if I had any handwash? Hold it right there! What did he mean did I have any hand wash??? What was he washing his hands with the entire trip? I knew for a fact that the last time he tested was right after peeling a clementine for his brother and me. His hands were covered in fruit juice! He was high but what was the juice reading and what was his blood???

My heart dropped. I was terrified. My head knew that if he had endangered himself that we would have seen the repercussions by now but I began to shake. I kept driving for fear of completely losing my temper out of pure terror. His correction would not have been small. Images of seizures while I was driving were flashing through my head. I kept trying to breathe and stop shaking.

Eventually I settled to the fact that he was still alive and somehow he had once again lucked out. We arrived at our destination and began to unwind once again. We sat down to a lovely meal and unpacked our bags. Soon we headed to bed but for whatever reason I was awake by 1am. I went in to test Liam and not surprisingly he was high. I went to correct and noticed that he had ONE unit of insulin left in his pump! I began to search through our bags to find the cartridges. I found the insulin. I found the infusion sets. There were no cartridges! By 1:30 I decided to try to refill the cartridge we had and deal with things in the morning. With fork in hand I managed pry back the plunger and then proceeded to inject insulin into the cartridge. The kitchen smelled like bandaids by the time I was finished but he had insulin and I could breathe for a bit.

In the morning I called the pump company for help. I was told that this was a supply issue and not a pump issue so I had to call the supply people. They kindly gave me the toll free number which I called. Sadly they were enjoying Christmas and could not take my call at the moment. They said that I could leave a message and I did. While waiting to be able to talk to a real person the next day I refilled the cartridge that had more than a few air bubbles from my 2am filling. The next day I waited until noon before trying the supply company again. The good news was that it rang. The bad news was no one would answer! Thankfully I happened to have recently been in contact with a VP for the supply company and had his email address still sitting on my Blackberry…shock of shocks, I didn’t lose it this time! I sent off a desperate email hoping that he was not on holidays and that he didn’t think me too much of a pain.

I literally screamed with joy when I got a reply asking for the address I was staying at. He said he would try and have cartridges here for me the very next day!

Despite a bit of a bumpy start, my holiday has been fabulous. Great weather…anything that does not resemble snow in December is great in my world! A wonderful host and now insulin cartridges!

Happy New Year!