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Kathryn

My Experience at the Emergency Department with the Flu and DKA

I got hit with the flu on Christmas Day and could not keep anything down.

I had traveled back to Pennsylvania from Florida for the holidays. I know I tell people I work with that when you travel or least expect it, is when things always tend to go wrong and to ensure you’re always prepared. Naturally, I do not always practice what I preach. I had no Zofran (or similar med) and I became severely dehydrated. My urine ketones were large (the ideal way to check ketones is by blood but the strips were all I had). I also did not have my g-voke kit which would have allowed me to deliver more insulin while mini dosing. The one thing I was able to do was push enough insulin to remain within a normal blood glucose range (which is honestly a miracle).

emergency

I had to head to the ED knowing that I was in a very dangerous position. For hours I advocated for myself multiple times, but I waited in the ED for over 6 hours. I was begging for IV fluids. My fingers became prunes. My mouth felt acidic. I was lethargic and light headed. The nurses downplayed my situation. They told me they “knew diabetes well”. I was not moved up in the line at all. My fiancé had security called on him because he started to take down names as we began to get worried I might lose my life. I tried to reach out to my healthcare team for them to advocate for me, but no success there either.

Gary, the greatest boss anyone could ever have, was doing everything he could to try and help. He was ready to drive to Penn State Lancaster from the Philly area (approximately a 1hr 45 min drive). As it’s very possible I wasn’t sounding as smart as I could, Gary also tried to get on the phone with the staff there but they refused. Eventually, I finally got IV fluids and zofran and I am ok (thank God)!

Unfortunately, euglycemic diabetic ketoacidosis (EDKA) is life threatening but often overlooked, as is DKA.

This puts people with diabetes in a very dangerous position. I am a diabetes care and education specialist personally and for this to happen to me, I can only imagine how bad it gets for others with type 1 diabetes.

After this experience, I was sure to follow-up in every way I possibly could to ensure this NEVER happens at this facility again. They called me and seem to be taking it seriously and said they will be implementing a DKA protocol. I’m fearful of this happening to others. I think we need to come together and ensure that people working in the emergency department know how to triage us.

With that being said, here at IDS we always strive to equip our patients with knowledge to advocate for themselves. Additionally, we now plan to give every client a DKA protocol sheet to give to the Emergency Department if they ever are in a position that they need to go there, signed off by their HCP to ensure it is taken seriously. Small steps are needed to see big necessary changes.

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