Flashbacks to my diagnosis with diabetes

Flashbacks to my diagnosis with diabetes

When my mother-in-law went into the hospital, I started thinking about my own hospitalization and my diagnosis of diabetes 10 years ago.

A few days ago, my mother-in-law passed out at work and hit her head hard enough to give herself a very bad concussion.  She was hospitalized, of course, and in addition to treating the concussion, the doctors started immediately trying to figure out why she passed out in the first place.

Visiting her in the hospital, I was reminded of when I was hospitalized for dangerously high blood sugar, almost exactly 10 years ago.  Over Memorial Day weekend in 2002, I found myself in the hospital, being treated for type 1 diabetes -- a condition that we'd had no idea I'd had until I went into the doctor a couple of days before, complaining of rapid weight loss.  (I was under 100 pounds by the time I finally made the appointment.)  There was no history of diabetes in my family, and so we'd never suspected that might be what was wrong with me.

When I visited my doctor, she took enough blood to supply a blood bank, and ordered just about every lab she could think of.  Thirty six hours later, she called and told me to go to the emergency room right away: I was diabetic.  Partially thanks to a can of soda that morning, my blood sugar had been over 700 the morning of my appointment.  (It was at the slightly less death-defying level of 480 when I was admitted to the emergency room.)

I spent four nights in the hospital--pretty much my entire holiday weekend.  It was something of a fiasco. Because of a lack of space and staffing, I was put into a room in the surgery ward, which was virtually empty in anticipation of the holiday.  I felt somewhat like I was being looked after by a team of trained monkeys, because no one in that ward -- and, apparently, in the entire hospital over a holiday weekend -- specialized in diabetes.  They couldn't get my blood sugar down to save my life (har, har, har).

After three days of being given insulin and then fed immediately afterward (a perfect example of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing), I finally saw an endocrinologist, and from then on they got my blood sugar under control pretty quickly.  I was released and sent home to begin a life-long process of learning about my diabetes.

Here I am, a decade later, and doing well -- but my mother-in-law's hospitalization reminded me so much of those four awful nights in the hospital 10 years ago.  The diagnosis is rather different -- she has emphysema and pneumonia, it turns out, a result of a lifetime of smoking a pack (and sometimes two) a day -- and the hospital is newer and nicer than the one I was in, but I can tell that she feels just as trapped, as I remember feeling!

What about you?  What's the story of how you were diagnosed?