Monday, March 31, 2008

My diagnosis: Checking into the hospital

The night after my doctor's exam, my doctor called me up with the news that I was diabetic. In the blood panel the previous day, my blood glucose had registered at 727.

"You need to go to the emergency room right now," the doctor said. She had already called in to let them know I was coming.

The conversation is a blur in my memory. I know I must have handed the phone over to my mom, who seemed angry. I remember her asking the doctor if I could at least eat dinner first.

The doctor grudgingly said that was okay.

I was in the basement, at the computer, when we received the call, but I don't remember how we got upstairs. I do remember sitting at the bar in the kitchen, completely shell-shocked by the diagnosis. I was crying, on the verge of hysteria.

My mom, meanwhile, still seemed pissed. She went to the phone and called an acquiantance of hers, whose husband and two children were both type 1 diabetic. "My daughter has lost a lot of weight and is going to the bathroom a lot. Does that sound like diabetes to you?" she demanded, almost as soon as her friend picked up the phone.

Of course, this was only upsetting me more. I was pretty much wailing at this point, and my dad told her to get off the phone.

We ate dinner and drove over to the hospital. When we walked into the emergency room, I walked up to the folks at the desk and told them, "I'm diabetic and my blood sugar is over 700."

They just looked at me and asked some question about my symptoms or my sugars, which didn't make sense at the time but that probably would now.

"I don't know," I said. "My doctor just told me to come here."

Evidently those were the magic words. Having a doctor call you in at the ER is like having a backstage pass: I bypassed all the miserable-looking people in the waiting room, and was ushered right into my own room. Before I knew it, they'd had me pee in a cup, drawn blood, hooked me up to an IV, and given me my very first dose of insulin.

I did have to wait for a while after that, but I was constantly being monitored and questioned. I was poked and prodded more times than I could count. I had at least a couple of different med students question me about my symptoms. The doctors even ordered X-rays, though I have no clue what they were looking for.

It wasn't until around midnight — perhaps four hours after my arrival — that I finally got a room of my own.



Irreverent Freelancer said...

Wow! I don't think I've ever known anyone whose levels went that high, and I know a lot of diabetics. That must have been a really scary time for you. And here I am fretting over my recent reading of 98!

Katharine Swan said...

Your 98 was probably a fasting blood glucose, which is a little different. I wasn't asked to fast before my appointment, so I had had a nice sugary soda not long before they drew blood. :o)

Still, though, my A1c was 17.8, which translates to an average blood glucose of about 500.

If I'd caught it sooner, it wouldn't have gone so high, but I really had no clue what was wrong with me.