First off, I should apologize to my mom, I don't think she previously knew about this and read about it in my last post and expressed her worry. Moms are made to worry, but I should have told her if I hadn't already :) sorry Mom...
During our Canadian Thanksgiving in October, we decided to surprise Michelle's mom in Montana for our long weekend. During our visit, I became really ill with what I thought was food poisoning, but could have been a 24 hour bug. Doesn't sound too bad to the normal person, but when you add diabetes to the situation it can be complicated. Managing blood sugars without the ability to eat or drink anything becomes almost impossible. Adding to the mix, I was lacking my Dexcom continuous blood glucose monitor because to my dissatisfaction my insurance does not currently cover my supplies in Canada (I am working on it). Without Dexcom, my ability to know what was happening in my body was extremely tough. After hours of vomiting, my wife searched the internet and came across another blog that cautioned diabetics about ketoacidosis. I had heard of the condition, but honestly had never even checked for this before. I will hopefully add to the knowledge out there to help others understand the condition.
How does Ketoacidosis happen? It is typical for diagnosed diabetics with elevated blood sugars for extended amounts of time. I have been diabetic for years and am pretty aware of it, so that wasn't the case. Since I started vomiting at around 9pm and didn't stop until 3am, there was a lot of stress on my body. Added complication, I started vomiting shortly after dinner, so the carbs I had already taken insulin to control were no longer in my body. So my blood sugar dropped because I did not have the expected sugars in my body and too much insulin. To counteract low blood sugar, I had to drink orange juice, which led to more vomiting. I was able to increase my blood sugar, but through the sugars I was able to keep down and from the stress on my body of vomiting, it ended up in the 300s mg/ml. I was afraid of taking too much insulin because I couldn't control my vomiting. Probably around 3am, Michelle went to CVS and bought me some fluids along with a box Ketone test strips to test for "Diabetic Ketoacidosis" or "DKA". This is a serious condition and ADA makes it sounds terrible, but I guess that is the reality.
According to the American Diabetes Association, Diabetic Ketoacidosis is "a serious condition that can lead to diabetic coma (passing out for a long time) or even death."
No, I thankfully didn't die, but I was forced to go to the hospital after my wife tested my Ketone levels and it came back showing the highest color on the chart. Since we have Canadian health insurance now, I wasn't sure if we were covered and I was hesitant. I didn't want to pay thousands of dollars to get treatment. That didn't go over well with the wifey, so off we were to the hospital at 4am. I ended up getting 2+bags of IV fluids, a shot to prevent vomiting and a urine test. The urine test showed that Ketones were present but not at alarming levels so I was able to leave once I could keep down fluids. I was right, it cost $1500+ but luckily we have travel insurance through our employer (didn't know this at the time) and after much paperwork they paid the bill. Even with it being so expensive, it's a small price to pay when it comes to your health and well-being in the long run.
What is DKA? According to the ADA, this is how they describe it. "When your cells don't get the glucose they need for energy, your body begins to burn fat for energy, which produces ketones. Ketones are acids that build up in the blood and appear in the urine when your body doesn't have enough insulin. They are a warning sign that your sugars are out of control or that you are getting sick. High levels of ketones can poison the body. DKA usually develops slowly, when people are unaware they have diabetes, but when vomiting occurs, this life-threatening condition can develop in a few hours. Treatment typically involves intravenous fluids to correct dehydration, insulin to suppress the production of ketone bodies, treatment for any underlying causes such as infections, and close observation to prevent and identify complications. "
Crazy to think, but in doing some research, before the 1920s, DKA was universally fatal. In less than 100 years ago, people "universally died" from this condition. That is scary to think, but it's also amazing how far we have come in technology and future treatments/cure looks bright!