DKA is what the nurse called it.
The diagnosis was almost immediate once in the ER.
Diabetic ketoacidosis. To me this was one of those conditions you file in your brain under “never going to happen.” When I heard those words I though to myself “Have you or a loved one suffered from Diabetic Ketoacidosis after taking this medication? If so, then call this law firm.” It just seemed so random.
After my daughter was diagnosed with diabetes 10 years ago, I read everything I could get my hands on about it. What causes it, how it’s is treated, how do I care for her, what can she eat, what can’t she eat. What are the complications and how do we avoid them, etc. I knew so much about this disease that when the doctor started explaining things to us using medical jargon, not layman’s terms, I pretty much understood what he was saying.
All I wanted to know was how did this happen. How did I let this happen? Why was I not aware of this condition and the possible detrimental consequences of getting it? Sitting in the ICU I looked it up on my phone to see what this was. I’m thinking “don’t people get in this condition purposefully in order to lose weight?” Well there is a difference between Ketosis and Ketoacidosis. That difference is the acidosis part.
While both ketosis and ketoacidosis do involve ketones in the blood that spill over into the urine, when a diabetic gets ketoacidosis, along with the high levels of ketones, acids form in the blood. If left untreated this condition can cause organ failure and even death. The level of ketones for someone on a keto diet are low. They register on the test strip on one of the lowest ranges, the peach/pink range. When your levels are way up in the extremely high range, the magenta level, that is when it is getting dangerous.
What I learned was ketoacidosis is the leading cause of death of diabetics between the age of 20 and 30. My daughter is 26. The reason this is a factor for young adults is at that age, some are eating wrong, drinking heavily and not taking their medications as prescribed. Some people will just ignore that they have diabetes and don’t want to be bothered with testing blood glucose levels, watching what they eat and certainly not testing for ketones in the urine. Some people don’t even know they have diabetes until they develop ketoacidosis.
My daughter isn’t a party animal. She doesn’t drink alcohol at all and she does watch what she eats and takes her medicine. Until one day she came from work saying she didn’t feel good. She thought she was coming down with a cold. That turned into an upset stomach with vomiting and not being able to keep any food down. So, it took a one-day period of her not eating much of anything and not taking her diabetes medications for her to get into trouble with ketoacidosis.
When she went to the doctor her blood sugar was 260 and she was tachycardic. Her heart rate was over 150! The doctor sent us to the ER. That is where the ketoacidosis was diagnosed along with severe dehydration. They hooked my girl up with IVs in each arm, each of those with 2 bags of fluids. The doctor admitted her into the hospital to be treated for the dehydration and ketoacidosis. I was still trying to figure out how? Why? What has caused all this to happen?
She was in ICU for 4 days. The nurses hung bag after bag. She now had a main line IV in her neck that had 3 ports, all with something pouring into them, as well as the IV’s in each arm. All of her electrolyte levels were out of whack. She needed calcium, phosphorous, potassium and insulin among other things to get her levels corrected. It also took a couple of days for her heart rate to come down to a normal level, well at least below 100.
The doctors did discover what the root cause of all this was. Something called acute acalculous cholecystitis. Her gall bladder was no longer working and it had to come out. So, by that 4th day she was recovered from the dehydration and the ketoacidosis and was scheduled for gall bladder removal.
After the surgeon took out that diseased gall bladder it was like night and day. For days she had been barely conscious and moaning and now she was wide awake and starving, ready to eat. The next day they unhooked all the IVs and monitors and she got to come home to finish recovering. She has 4 holes in her abdomen where they did the operation laparoscopically and she is sore but we are all so very happy to have gotten through this. A hard lesson learned. When you think you know everything, you just might not.
I just wanted to share this crazy ordeal. Maybe someday someone will read this and it will stick in the back of their mind and if they are feeling sick and can’t keep the meds down, they will at least keep an eye on the ketone levels and make sure not to get into ketoacidosis. I know I will.
This is the list of problems that doctors treated my daughter for last week.