Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The First Flu Bug w/Diabetes

answer:  "At least it's manageable."

It was summertime, 2003...the first summer with diabetes for our family. C had received the diagnosis in December. It was now August. We had been coping with this beast for several months now. And except for a few sniffles here and there, we had managed to stay fairly healthy since that time.

Summer activities were in full swing. Both the boys were in VBS (Vacation Bible School) at our church. This left a little time each morning for just C and me.

Day 3 of the week -- I picked up the younger from his group time. We raced around doing some errands. Picked up the dog from the vet. As we left to go home for lunch, middle C announced that he was "going to throw up!" Got the dog in the car, C strapped in, and gave middle C a baggie, just in case.

We made it home.  I rushed everybody inside.  Middle C proceeded to do exactly what he told us he was going to do.  Needless to say, there was no lunch for him...just a wet washcloth and trash can by his bed. After settling him in his room, I turned my attention to C's lunch.

Only two years old at the time, she crawled up into her high chair.  I checked her finger.  As C munched away on lunch, I drew up the insulin for the carbohydrates she was consuming.  Back then we, almost always, gave her the injection after she finished her meal.  It was so hard to know if she would actually eat everything in front of her or not...she was a two year old!  When she was close to finishing, I gave her the shot.  Honestly, the way I remember wasn't 5 minutes later that she hopped down from the chair, began to fuss and threw up all over the kitchen floor.

Did you get that?  She just ate lunch.  I just gave her an injection of insulin.  And she just threw up all over the kitchen floor.

I scooped her up, took her upstairs and began cleaning her up, all the while, she was fussing and crying.  I remember catching a glimpse of the two of us in the bathroom mirror.  C...with vomit all over her cute little outfit and strung through her hair.  And, me...with a look of terror in my eyes.  My thoughts raced.  She just ate lunch.  I gave her insulin.  And, she threw up.  Those were the phrases swirling through my brain.  I had to get a hold of myself and, the situation. 

While I put C in her room, middle C needed help.  The poor kid would have to fend for himself for a while.  I was panicking big time.  I ran to get C's meter.  I remember checking her blood glucose frantically.  It was somewhere in the 70s.  This was not good.  No food in her tummy.  Lots of insulin at work.  All I could do was hold her and rock her and wipe up the next round of vomit. 

BG check.  She was dropping and fast.  62.  Juice.  Vomit.  BG check, 54.  Juice.  Vomit.  Oh, my God!  What was happening??  Lord help me!

I cannot clearly explain the desperation I was feeling.  I ran to get the phone.  I called the emergency hotline for CHLA.  Thankfully, I got through quickly.  A lovely nurse was on the other end of the line with me in an instant.  I'm certain that I was quite incoherent, but I tried my best to tell her what was happening.

Vomit.  Oh Lord!

"Okay, dear," the lovely nurse said.  "Okay, I want you to put me on speaker and check C's blood glucose again."

"Okay," I said.  I know I was blubbering at this point. 

I hit the speaker button and dropped the phone.  BG, 41.  My hands were shaking.  "41," I cried.

"Okay," the lovely nurse said.  In such a calm, sweet manner she asked me, "do you have a glucagon kit handy?"

"Uh, uh...yes.  Wait, it's downstairs," I muttered.

"Now, leave C and go down and get it and come right back to me, okay?"


I got back to C's room, dropped to the floor.  "Okay," I said.  "Got it."

By this time, C was quiet, laying on the floor, next to me.  I checked her once again.  37.  I felt like the world was caving in on us.

The nurse gave me specific, detail by detail, directions.  "I'm going to walk you through giving C small doses of the glucagon, okay?"


"I want you to go get a few syringes and come right back," she said.

"I've got some right here in her bag," my voice was so shaky.

The lovely nurse continued to direct me in mixing the solution, drawing it up and giving tiny doses of it to C.  After every 5 minutes or so, she would tell me to check C's glucose.  I remember repeating the cycle over the next couple hours.  Her number would rise to 54.  Then it would drop to 47.  60.  And then 58.  It was like a cruel game.

After an eternity, her numbers came up above 70.  When the lovely nurse felt C was in a good range.  She told me to let her sleep.  Then, I should check on her every 15 minutes and call the lovely nurse back.  I did.

Of course, after C hadn't vomitted for several hours, we went back to using juice to correct the lows.

I know my memory is foggy at best, but I can remember camping out on the floor in her room for about 2 days, ready to do whatever was necessary for my baby.
question:  What is the number one thing a mom of a newly diagnosed 2 year old doesn't want to hear?


  1. You have NO idea how lucky you are to have BG meters and the technology we have today. MY mom had 2 kids with T1 (ages 5 and 2), urine testing kits and insulin. Having us both sick with the flu was never fun. I give my mom SO much credit for all that she did. And, I'm proud that you were able to call the "lovely" nurse and that you were there for your C. Stay strong! I believe that God only gives to those who can handle what he gives. You're doing fine!

  2. Oh mercy what a horrifying story. I'm so glad you had presence of mind and glucagon. I cannot begin to imagine how scary that must have been for you.

    I have to say, what a cute photo.

  3. I am sorry you and C went through that.

    "At least it's manageable" has little application to D in my opinion.

    The steps that PWD take in order to live "normal" lives, they take because there is no other option. I suppose to outsiders it looks like it is manageable. But when I slow down and take a moment to think of all the things PWD do on a daily basis just to eat, or to avoid feeling sick, or to ensure they aren't hospitalized that day, all the while making it look like it's comparable to brushing one's teeth, I find it hard to categorize all that as "manageable".

    To me, something is manageable when you are able to accomplish it with relative ease or perhaps minimal disruption or inconvenience. That is not what living with diabetes is.

    It's in some entirely different category. It is managed simply because the only other alternative is unthinkable.


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