Sunday, 1 April 2018

My DKA Hospital Admission

I took this on Monday.
I have never felt so unwell.
I always saw posts about how someone had 'slipped into DKA without realising' and how 'easy' it was to creep in. I found it utterly bizarre and impossible that you could get to that stage, having had no successful interventions.

Until it happened to me.

After 15 years of living with Type One Diabetes I had my first experience of DKA. 
I have had ketones and sickness bugs twice before but this was totally different. It was scary and an experience that will not leave me. 

I had DKA. Although it was not sneaky and it did not creep up on me. I felt every inch of it in full force. I felt it in the early stages and I felt it when it had me pinned to the bed, shallowed my breathing and made my eyes the heaviest pieces of armour in the world. I felt every slurred word, every jumbled sentence that left my mouth. Every jolt, needle, bump and bruise. It was very real. It was very apparent and it happened to me.

A Summary of What Happened

Arrival at A&E
Friday - Fell dramatically ill (vomiting and ketones). Rushed to A&E, flushed with anti-emetics and IV fluids. 
Saturday- Went home. Rang senior DSN and took the day off work following her advice. I was told my body needed time to re-balance. 
Sunday - returned to work. Got sent home.
Monday-Wednesday- Feeling progressively worse. My blood sugars were low and ketones non existent. I looked dramatically unwell. 
Wednesday- Visited GP. Diagnosed with a urine infection (UTI) and given antibiotics.
Thursday morning - Woke with (what was later diagnosed as) viral vertigo. Could not lift my head  off the pillow. Vomitted A LOT, ketones and blood glucose levels shot up. Rushed to A&E.
Friday - Moved to MAU- Officially in 'DKA' - pathway included insulin sliding scale, glucose and saline/potassium.
Monday - Discharged early evening with anti-emetics and antibiotics.

"We need to start bed two on the DKA pathway"

It was at this point that my body told me to stop fighting. To let go. So I did. I stopped trying and fell into what I can only describe as a vegetive state.
I laid my head down and shut my eyes. A wave of numbness overpowered and utterly disabled me. My body switched from deafening screams to total silence - I felt peaceful.

I knew I had to focus every fibre of my being in trusting the process. There was no point in fighting any more. I didn't have it in me. My body told me it was okay to let go, so I listened.

The longer I kept my eyes shut, the quicker I would wake up.

Despite the rushing team of medical professionals swarming my room, I felt like the fight had been worth it and I knew this was the time to let the doctors do their thing. I remember telling myself not to be scared and that it would be okay. I felt this feeling that there was nothing else I could do, it was simultaneously the most terrifying and peaceful juxtaposition I have ever found myself in.

I lay slumped on the bed, eyes closed shut, waiting and trusting the process. Time became non existent that day. I couldn't tell you where I was, it was an out of body experience- I guess. I had shut down. I remember that day of severe DKA well but at the same time not at all. It resides in my memory as one ugly and painful blur, with no time milestones to base my memories upon. I could hear those around me and was aware of what was happening but did not have the mental capacity to be present in the room. It was all consuming and totally deafening. I lost all bodily functions and movement which was pretty undignifiying but at this point it was the least of my worries.

Whilst I was on the DKA pathway I had three IV drips attached; an insulin sliding scale, potassium/saline and glucose. My body had been flushed through with anti-emetics and strong antibiotics that morning. I remember the doctor telling me they were strong enough to wipe out anything in my body that shouldn't be there. They checked my blood glucose hourly and took blood every two hours. I was so dehydrated that each time they needed to take blood it took three failed attempts before they found a vein. 
They began to take blood from my feet. There were a lot of silent tears.
At one point, I had three MAU doctors trying to take blood from me, two by my feet and one holding my hand.
Friday - 'Waking up' in MAU

This is after I 'woke' from my coma-like-state and I felt A-M-A-ZING! No, seriously! I laughed and joked with my mum at my bedside. I asked her to take this picture. It wasn't until I looked back on the images she had taken weeks later that I realised just how ill I was. I also realised how far I had yet to go. I had felt so unwell that I thought at this point I felt better.
Friday - MAU

That evening I moved ward shortly after experiencing a hypo. I felt completely out of control and again, the sheer reality of how unwell I was rippled into my stream of consciousness.

The next three days consisted of peaks and troughs of feeling dramatically better and then completely out of it. It came in waves. I moved to a different ward late Saturday night.

I was incredibly lucky throughout my hospital admission that I was very rarely alone. Between my family, specifically my Mother, and my girlfriend, I always had company.  Words cannot describe how grateful I was to have their company. It was emotional for us all but the bond between my partner and I only grew stronger. Her strength and utter resilience pulled me through at every hurdle.

Arriving home on Monday
This is minutes after arriving home. I felt incredibly weak  but so happy to be back in my safe place. It was amazing to be surrounded by familiar things and people, in my own clothes, my bed and my loving dog.

I remember feeling scared for what was to come. I have never had to recover from anything before. Life resumes, whether you are ready for it or not. There is no debrief, rest breaks or service announcements. In one way it was reassuring, but in the same breath totally overwhelming.

I spent the next two weeks recovering at home- doing whatever, whenever I wanted. I lost a stone in weight, I had lost my appetite and could not tolerate foods. I am working hard to regain that even now.

Whilst recovering I caught another virus which presented as a viral rash, a trip to my GP confirmed.

Recovery Has Been A Whirlwind

Recovery - A skeleton of
what I was

I will be honest, it has taken me up until this week to feel better. I still do not feel myself but I have every faith I will get there with time.

I have felt every emotion under the sun. I have lost a lot of weight but my general complexion is looking a lot healthier. I still feel quite uneasy knowing there was nothing else I could have done - it really can strike at any time.

I did not realise how ill I was until now. It has all been a whirlwind. My first admission as an adult was a totally different experience and the things I went through will never leave me.

It feels good to be on the other side of it. Standing on my own two feet feels pretty awesome. Never take good health for granted because it's amazing how quickly it can take a turn.


Thank you for reading.

Amber xx

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