My last two Wordless Wednesday posts have been indicative of where I have spent some time of late. A hospital. And not because of diabetes. Although I found myself deperately trying to make diabetes the reason for my inpatient visit. I have finally figured out why; it is the only thing I completely understand. Now I know that may sound ridiculous to those of you who also live with this highly frustrating condition. However, I know when not to expect things to go as expected. I know how to fix most BGL’s that are out of range. I know how to interpret CGM data to stay well and keep my HbA1C where I want it.
That is until another bodily system starts to play up and I have to go off my insulin pump, (very reluctantly I might add,) and be at the mercy of a stream of doctors I barely get to say boo-hoo too.
I was admitted to a bed in Accident and Emergency with severe upper abdominal and chest pain. I found myself blankly staring at these little beauties, thinking about who would have come up with the idea to turn hospital trolley wheels into mice!
After the doctors had ruled out a heart event by running a miriad of tests, they settled on the notion that my gal bladder was playing up and that I needed to be admitted for further testing and care. Between my amazing husband, Paul and one of my best friends, Sarah they managed to juggle our collective four kids, swimming lessons, dinner, sleeping arrangements and getting prepared for the following day which included work, school and daycare.
All I was left to worry about was my health. Fortunately I had a good, strong glucose sensor in and it was calibrating beautifully with my finger prick results. My sugars were running a little high, but I knew that was due to the high fever I had, and all of the survival hormones my body was pumping out to combat the excruciating pain. Cool. No worries. Temporary basal rate set. Oh, sorry Doctor, did you say morphine by IV… no worries to that, either!
I requested to be admitted as a private patient, despite being in a public hospital, with the idea that I would get transferred to the private hospital down the road as soon as possible. There were two reasons I did this. The first being that my family and I pay a lot of money to our private health insurer to access the best level of hospital care possible. The second is that I am a doctor-hospital-snob, (for lack of a better term). I want to see my endocrinologist. I want to chose my preferred gastric surgeon. And I want to feel like death-warmed-up in the privacy of my own room, thank you very much!
However due to my circumstances, the surgical team were not willing to facilitate a transfer until they had made a full assessment of my situation and immediate needs. Again, no worries. Let’s get on with it then, shall we?
No, let’s not…
Let’s allow Kim to fast for 41 hours.
Let’s take Kim off her insulin pump and put her in an IV infusion of Dextrose and Actrapid, accompanied by hourly blood sugar and ketone tests, just in case she becomes too unstable to operate it herself.
Let’s take two and a half days to conduct all the tests we think are necessary.
Oh! And while we’re at it, let’s not allow Kim access to a doctor to discuss her condition within the first 24 hours of her admission.
So all of a sudden I found myself very much out of control and flapping in the breeze like a torn flag risen to half-mast. I didn’t have the strength to fight anymore, especially after several pages to the doctors were left unanswered. I understand that my situation was not fatal. I know that I was not at much risk of getting sicker. But guess what, the second you take away my artificial pancreas that has been attached to me for the most part of a decade, it does become a situation to deal with. Especially when the ward nurses were instructed by the doctors to put me on the infamous “Nil Oral” diet, but didn’t approve of any additional IV glucose to treat low blood sugars. Enter from behind the ward-dividing curtain, one sassy nurse and a bottle of Lucozade!
With all of this taken into careful consideration, I did what any person with type 1 would do; I decided to learn how to operate the hospital infusion pumps! I’m not talking about messing with my doses or changing out my taps or lines. I just calmly went about figuring out things like how to switch from mains to battery power so I could walk myself to the communal bathroom. In diabetes-talk, that meant I was “getting back in control”. And that was enough for me. As nonsensical as it sounds, it was enough for me to calm down about the way my diabetes was being managed, and concentrate on my other health concerns. And interestingly, none of the ward nurses challenged me on my actions. In hind sight I think they probably knew better than to try…
Four days later I was discharged with a postulated diagnosis pending test results and a collection of drugs to take until my review through the outpatients clinic in a few weeks. A lot of aspects of my health are still up in the air, but I am feeling well and much more like my normal self again. Who knows what has helped me to achieve this. Is it the drugs? Is it being back on my pump and CGMS? Is it the two days I spent lying on the beach by myself after being discharged; soaking up the sunshine and digesting the events of the week prior? I think it’s a little bit of all of those things really. And this means one thing; it isn’t entirely about diabetes… ever.
PS. This post is also not about hospital or doctor bashing. My situation was reasonably complex and at the end of the day, I had access to the care required to see me through to the next day. And for that, I am grateful. Please don’t ask me to name and shame. I blog in an attempt to reduce the feelings of isolation in others who may have found themselves in similar situations, and to educate parties involved in caring for those living with diabetes. However, I am planning on writing about the state of the public healthcare system in Australia… So look out!