As I mentioned in my previous post this month, November is Diabetes Awareness Month. I am sharing my misdiagnosis story with you to raise awareness and to empower you to advocate for your health.
November of last year is when my body started fighting for my life, behind the scenes.
December is always a busy month for everyone, I was no different. I had a work conference in Nashville, a family trip to colorado planned, Christmas and my son’s 8th birthday! I was a busy busy lady!
The first week of December, while in Nashville, I broke my foot. I had never broken a bone before so this was new territory and it sucked! Shortly after breaking my foot I was noticing I would get winded walking around the house. I attributed it to breaking my foot and being less active. Maybe my lungs were tired. With a history of blood clots in my lung, I asked my doctor for a CT scan before I left for vacation. Just to be safe! No one wants to be in a hospital 18 hours from home. No one wants to afford to be in a hospital 18 hours from home.
My tests came back all clear, and we are going to Colorado!
I was short of breath on the trip ( attributed it to altitude) and was even more short of breath when we got back.
December is such a busy time with Christmas and birthdays that I just powered through. I barely had time to sleep let alone breathe! Literally.
I went to my doctor for my regular scheduled appointment for routine blood work. I mentioned my shortness of breath and was again assured it was probably just due to overexertion or my body adjusting back to the altitude.
I woke up and got dressed like I usually do. This time I couldn’t breathe to put on my shoes. I called my doctor immediately and asked if I should go to the emergency room. He said my labs had just come back and that I should go to the emergency room, immediately. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Induce panic: it’s Friday, we have work and school, what about the kids, do I drive myself, what’s wrong? Wait, do I have time to shower? Should I leave now or do I have an hour to prepare myself?!
Within the hour I am at Lourdes get checked in, get my 2 IVs, pee in a cup and put on my new outfit! The doctor comes in to tell me that I am indeed in severe DKA and he tells the nurse to initiate DKA protocol, and call up to ICU for a room. DKA! ICU? OMG!
All the acronyms!
DKA – diabetic ketoacidosis, is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones. This condition develops when your body can’t produce enough insulin and without enough insulin, your body begins to break down fat as fuel.
The symptoms were all there
All of that wonderful weight loss (20 pounds in 2 months) was not a blessing but my body trying desperately to burn anything it could to keep me alive. The shortness of breath was my body not getting enough oxygen from my cells to breathe. The fatigue was because my body was fighting so hard every day to keep from shutting down.
An IV in each arm, 2 days in ICU, 5 days in a regular room, and lots of shots. I was finally released!
At my follow up the next week, I begged and pleaded with my doctor to test my pancreas. Type 2’s rarely go into DKA with normal blood sugar ranges. He said no because the medicine I was prescribed had one of those glorious severe side effects of DKA. You know the commercials where the last sentence of all the things that could go wrong if you take this medicine. The least common of side effects …
Advocating for myself was hard
The weeks following the hospital stay were a roller coaster. The medicine I was on was barely keeping my blood sugar under 300 on a low carb diet. Normal and healthy blood sugar is 70-170. After months of crying and feeling like crap, I was finally tested and my pancreas was making almost NO insulin. Since I wasn’t on injection insulin therapy my body couldn’t regulate my blood sugar. I should have been on insulin this whole time. I was FINALLY after 2 years I had received the diagnosis I knew was right from day 1.
The low carb diet was able to manage the “honeymoon phase” of my diabetes for almost a year. I am now a type 1 diabetic on daily insulin. I have a pump that delivers my insulin hourly and the ability dose for my meals ahead of time. I have a sensor I wear in my arm that replaces the finger sticks and reads 24 hours a day. It alerts to dangerous lows and highs. I love the technology we have available now!
The point of this story is to say we have to listen to our bodies. Doctors know a lot but you know your body! Don’t be afraid to question authority and ask for second opinions. There is no harm in asking more than one expert for an opinion. Heck, as moms we ask a community of women their opinion on things that will affect the well being of our children, why wouldn’t you do the same for your health?
November is diabetes awareness month so I am putting it all out there! I ever thought at 32 I could be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, but it’s possible. Know the symptoms, know the signs, ask your doctor. When caught early it is way more manageable and causes fewer problems down the line!