I almost died, and it’s a really funny story…(Part 2)
Posted On July 22, 2018
Ok, as the title suggests, there is a Part 1 to this story, so if you haven’t read it yet, please stop here and read the previous post before proceeding. I’ll place the same disclaimer at the start of this post, as there will be one more graphic scene discussed in Part 2, so if you have a weak stomach, stop reading now.
For those who are left, we’re picking up at the point where Chris loaded me into the truck, holding a bucket and sitting on a stack of towels, his truck was only about 6 months old, but I believe that he was actually just traumatized by the events of that morning. It’s one thing when you have a child who is sick and doesn’t know better, but when it’s your adult spouse, any normal person would be irritated by the way I was behaving. We proceeded to the local stand-alone Emergency Room located about 4-5 miles from our house, it’s a place we’ve visited often (I make about 2 trips to the ER each year) and even though it’s run by a hospital that we don’t normally go to, we like it because they are very quick with intake, testing, and treatment/release. It was a very tense drive for Chris, he was worried that with every passing minute, I was going to paint the inside of his truck with vomit as I had done at home, several times that morning. Unfortunately, it did not occur to either of us that the ER had relocated to a facility much closer to our house (about 2-3 miles), but in the opposite direction, so we had to back-track and spend even more time getting to our destination. Luckily, by some small miracle, I made the trip without incident. Chris dropped me off at the front and went to park the truck.
What I haven’t specifically addressed yet is my complete lack of cognitive function. I honestly believe that had Chris not stayed home with me that day, I would likely not be alive today. I now realize that I did not have the mental capacity to call for help and I would’ve stayed in bed or died in a pool of my own vomit somewhere between the bedroom and the bathroom (I warned you this was graphic). So, I’m at the counter, correction: I’m laying on the counter and the horrified clerk is asking me what’s wrong, but I couldn’t verbalize my thoughts beyond “I’m sick”. I remember being asked for my ID and I was trying to explain that my husband had my wallet when Chris walked in and began describing my situation much more coherently than I had. I was immediately taken to the back and while I don’t recall much of the next several hours, I’ll do my best to piece it together for you.
I remember that they immediately wanted to start I.V. fluids because I was so dehydrated that they couldn’t draw blood. I remember begging for water and being denied so many times that Chris (in a low, but very serious growl that you use to “yell” at your kids in public) told me to “stop fucking asking for water“. I remember being given a face mask to wear because one of the nurses was pregnant, but putting anything over my mouth made me instantly nauseous so I pulled it off and Chris told the staff that they would be the ones wearing a mask if they felt it necessary. I remember the medical staff explaining a clear action plan which included lab tests, x-rays and various IV treatments to stabilize my metabolic function. Speaking of x-rays, here’s another fun fact, the barf bag they give you holds a lot more fluid than you’d expect. I felt so bad for the x-ray technicians who were unfortunately in the middle of eating lunch when I was wheeled in. I won’t go into a great amount of detail, but let’s just say that by the time I was finished, their lunch was noticeably missing from the desk. I remember begging everyone that I came in contact with to give me water or ice chips, I even begged one nurse to let me “swish it around in my mouth” and promising to “spit it back out”, all while my husband glared at me. But they caved and I did exactly that! Chris used that growl voice again when the nurse left the room, telling me to stop asking for water/ice chips, but my brain slowly started working again and I got the bright idea that if I went to the bathroom, I could covertly scoop water from the faucet during the very brief moment when I was left alone (yes, I’m a fucking genius). My brain wasn’t doing me any favors though, because I still asked the medical assistant who escorted me if I was allowed to have water yet and of course, after loading me back on the gurney in my room, she said (in front of Chris) “I’ll check on that water for you”, I can’t replicate the look he gave me, but after that, I knew better than to ask about it again.
It was quickly determined that I was having a fatally serious episode of diabetic ketoacidosis, my blood had become toxic and my organs were shutting down. I would be admitted to the hospital for monitoring and treatment, which meant I’d be transported by ambulance from the ER. Now, as mentioned in my first post, Before and After, I’ve been a hypochondriac my entire life, but I had never been in an ambulance before, let me tell you, it wasn’t as cool as I had built it up to be in my head. The ER and hospital staff were amazing, they not only came up with a plan of action, but they executed it flawlessly. They made sure all of the necessary and foreseeable tests were performed before I left the ER so that once I arrived at the hospital, I wouldn’t be carted off to various departments all evening. The hospital staff picked up exactly where the ER staff left off, it was as if I remained in the same building, under the care of the same staff for the duration of my stay. I’m very critical of procedural implementation and execution, I can honestly say, my visit was a textbook example of proper treatment and care. My nurses were fantastic, their aides were equally awesome, we had inside jokes and I even became Facebook friends with one of the aides after being released. The woman in the bed next to me wasn’t very nice, but they consistently treated her respectfully despite her horrid behavior toward them. If you’ve been to the hospital before, you know that there is no shortage of people trampling through your room asking you the same questions repeatedly. This was different, I only saw those who were critically involved in my treatment and aftercare plan(s).
The first night, I slept like a baby, Chris eventually went home to get some rest, taking my phone with him, which normally causes me anxiety, but this time, I think it actually helped me sleep better. I knew Chris was keeping everyone informed and my nausea had subsided, so I didn’t have one fucking worry in the world, despite having my blood drawn every 6 hours by a very nice and hilarious phlebotomist named Vicky. The second night was a little rough, but it only strengthened my respect for the hospital staff. The was a younger woman three rooms down the hall and she yelled all night long. From what I gathered, she had a serious broken leg requiring absolute bed rest for several hours, but she wanted to get up so she just screamed non-stop “hello, will somebody help me out of bed, HELLO…”. I took a walk at one point during the night and I seriously considered going into her room and telling her to SHUT THE FUCK UP, but I didn’t want to cause more trouble for the hospital staff so I just went back to bed.
The next three days are a blur, my labs slowly stabilized, and I was tasked with learning a whole new way of living, because as it turns out, I actually have Type 1 Diabetes, not Type 2 as previously thought. More specifically, I have Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, or “LADA“ and while it’s more common to be diagnosed with Type 1 during youth, autoimmune diseases tend to travel in groups, so it is not far fetched for MS and LADA to be paired with one another. This distinction is important for two reasons, one is that I now require constant glucose monitoring and insulin injections for the rest of my life, the second is that we now understand why I had such a bad reaction to the medication I was initially prescribed. You know those commercials that say “the potential for developing X is increased in certain patients while taking this medication“? Well, I was a perfect case study for the reason behind those disclaimers.
Honestly speaking, I was depressed at first, I had a significant amount of sight impairment in the following months, which, when combined with memory loss and pain, made me think that having T1D was just another time bomb ticking away at my life expectancy. In reality, I’m better off knowing, I am able to make healthier choices and after a lot of hard work, my A1c is nearly normal at 5.7 which I’m very proud of. I was even able to enjoy my first vacation in three years last May, I’ll be posting about it soon, but in the meantime, thank you for reading and feel free to post any questions or comments. ~Tiffany
Resources used in this post: National MS Society; MayoClinic; MayoClinic (LADA)