The Flu (Part 1): On a Dime

by Leighann on November 18, 2010

On Monday I hinted that I had a gruesome tale to tell. Here is just the beginning of the story.

Two and a half years ago I sat on a window seat bench typing out a blog post. I never hit “publish.”

Emotions were raw. My then three-year-old had just been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and we were in a hospital 200 miles from home. She was in the playroom with volunteers working on her portfolio of artwork, which long forgotten I found just last week still stacked and neatly placed in a “personal belongings” plastic drawstring bag.

Today I sit on a window bench typing out a blog post. My six-year-old is in the playroom with a nursing student playing Candy Land.

We are not 200 miles away but are in our hometown. Though there was the possibility at 4:00 am that we would be transported to St. Louis for care. Our hospital does not treat pediatric endocrinology patients routinely. I told the ER doctor that I would really prefer to stay here and he asked the on call pediatrician to consider allowing us to stay.

The doctor overseeing us today told us that if she were any other child she would be home with the stomach flu. But she is not any other child. She is a child with diabetes. A child whose health can turn on a dime. A child who can be affected by “whatever is going around” to the umpteenth degree.

Turn on a dime it did last night.

School. Gymnastics. Girl Scouts. All done with enthusiasm on a busy day.

And then suddenly she threw up.

And didn’t want her bedtime snack.

And my worry began.

How can I let her go to bed with a blood sugar in the 90’s with no bedtime snack? Her regular 15 gram carb snack that includes 5 grams of protein to get her through the night. A bit later I encourage her to drink a juice box. Of course she vomits it up.

And again.

And again.

She dips into the 70’s. What do I do? What can I do? I don’t know.

I set a temporary basal rate. I lower it again. I check ketones. I check blood sugars eight times in the course of a few hours. I set the alarm on my phone in varying 15 and 30 minute increments to check on her again.

Often she is by my side or in the bathroom or sitting up in bed before the alarm goes off again.

For the first time ever I place the red plastic emergency Glucagon box on her nightstand.

And I am afraid I will have to use it.

I don’t want to use. Dammit, I hope I don’t have to use it.

She bounces around between the 70’s and 90’s. Another blood ketone check reveals moderate ketones. She throws up again and her dad cleans her up as I call the endocrinologist.

The endocrinologist says I’ve done everything right. But it’s time to take her to the ER.

The ER. The dreaded ER. The middle of the effing night ER.

We put her in the car and I drive 45 the entire way through town daring a policeman to pull me over. I think: Go ahead, sir, give me a speeding ticket. But I’m afraid you’ll have to follow me to the hospital to issue it because I am not delaying getting medical attention.

We park in the emergency parking lot, one of only a dozen cars at this late hour. She’s getting too big for me to carry these days. I hold our bag which includes a change of pajamas for her, the pump and ketone meter, and a few juice boxes. In my other hand is the small waste basket that has been filled and emptied over and again that night.

She walks beside me, wrapped in her fleece Pooh Bear blanket. The blanket that was sent along with her cuddle quilt shortly after diagnosis. She shivers in the cool night air both from chill and exhaustion and nestles into me as she walks.

I hope there is not a wait. I hope there is not gore for her to witness. I hope.

I sit her on a bench, wrap her up, and place the basket beside her. I hated to leave her side, but I had to check her in. I glance over. I glance again. Again.

The man behind the desk begins asking questions. I slide her insurance card across to him. He is the quickest typist I have ever seen. It’s quite fascinating. But as quick as he is, it’s not quick enough.

There is a woman in the triage room. I don’t care why she is there, but she is taking up the chair that I want my daughter to be sitting in. One step closer to care.

She vomits again just as we are called to triage, the contents of her stomach long gone. Bile. Again.

The triage nurse asks what her blood sugar is as I check it yet again. 92. She says, “You consider that low?” Why yes. Yes I do consider that low for my child in the middle of the night. I do consider that low for my child who is vomiting over and over. I do consider that low given that’s the highest I’ve been able to get her even suspending her insulin delivery.

It is amazing to me that on a dime she can go from this vivacious six-year-old as seen in this video taken days before, to a child needing emergency medical attention.

To be continued…

NaBloPoMo 2010Read all of my NaBloPoMo 2010 posts.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stacey D. November 18, 2010 at 8:57 am

I feel so bad that you had to go through that with her šŸ™ I actually went through the same situation last fall. Couldn’t keep anything in me, blood sugars on the low side yet ketones creeping up. We all know that fluids are the key to getting rid of ketones but that’s impossible when you can’t keep them down. You did all you could for her but unfortunately (very) diabetes does complicate a lot of situations. I’m glad she’s feeling better. And you too!!


2 Kimberly November 18, 2010 at 9:23 am

Ugh. Been there, done this…twice. Hospital stay and all. At that poing, I was begging them to admit us I was so scared I’d kill her somehow. Hate this part of diabetes.


3 Jen November 18, 2010 at 9:28 am

We have only been in the hospital once for a stomach flu and it was terrifying. One of the worst things was feeling like the staff at the hospital did not understand diabetes care. Glad everyone is feeling better…


4 Joanne November 18, 2010 at 10:21 am

How scary… My eyes were tearing up as I read this. We have been lucky so far, but I know it’s only a matter of time until it’s our turn.


5 Renata November 18, 2010 at 12:09 pm

You know, it’s good that the nurse said that out loud so you could respond. So many times it would have been an “mmmm hhmmm” and the thought would have been in her head that you were crazy.

Sorry you had to go through this, you are a strong one Leigh.


6 Scott Strange November 19, 2010 at 2:23 pm

From someone who used to be that kid in the ER, you done good Mom!


7 alexis of justices misbehaving pancreas November 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm

omg. Im on the edge of my seat. Ive been there with the lows and vomiting its so unbelievably scary! You did good d mama.


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