I am spending Memorial Day weekend in a hospital. I’ve had 2 diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) attacks this week.
I don’t want to write this blog post. I’d rather crawl up in a corner and hide from the world. My tears have been non-stop for days. I’m very embarrassed and incredibly sad that I allowed this to happen. However, I am sharing my story to hopefully help others avoid the same pitfalls.
How did this happen?
I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes via a ketoacidosis attack in January 2017. After lots of reading on the subject, I came to the conclusion that losing all my extra weight would be the fastest way back to good health… and maybe even reverse my diabetic symptoms. I recently shared How I Lost 25 Pounds in 2 Months. Since then, I have lost 10 more pounds, and I am now 5’8″, 117 pounds. I lost a total of 40 pounds in the past 4 months, most of it following a whole food plants-based low-fat diet with some moderate exercise.
My glucose (blood sugar) numbers were okay for a couple of weeks (fasting glucose hovering between 110-140). I felt confident enough to stop taking my diabetic medications (Glipizide and Metformin).
Then I moved to another U.S. state, and I left my unused medications behind. I was also out of lancets for my glucose meter, so I didn’t take my blood sugar readings for a week. When I finally did, my fasting numbers were very high (around 300). I became desperate to get my numbers down, which is when I made 2 more wrong turns: I skipped meals, and I exercised intensively. As I’ve learned the hard way, both of those tactics tend to hurt more than help when glucose numbers are that high.
I gave up and went to a doctor on Tuesday to get more medicine, but she just sent me to the Emergency Room instead. I was diagnosed with ketoacidosis (a life-threatening condition caused by diabetes). I spent one night, which I’ll just describe as miserable. I went home for 2 days, trying to keep my numbers down with medicine again. I woke up on Friday morning vomiting, breathing very hard, and extremely tired. I was rushed back to the hospital, and I’ve been here ever since.
Hospital visits and diabetes both suck.
I have extremely small veins, so my hospital stays are worsened by lots of missed attempts to poke me. On Friday, medical staff worked for hours to get 2 IV lines in my right hand and right arm. Over the past week, I have had blood drawn from the back of my left hand more than times than I can count. And then there’s the painful potassium from the IVs, the nausea, the hourly finger pokes, among many other unpleasant experiences. (Note: I am very thankful for the caring and competent medical staff!)
However, the physical discomforts pale in comparison to the emotions. I have an incredible amount of guilt for allowing this to happen. My doctor didn’t help matters, as she told me specifically “you brought this upon yourself.”
To prepare for eating, I must inject myself. If my numbers get too high, I have to inject myself again. Why in the world would I want to eat when it feels like punishment? Yet I must eat to fuel my body. I cry with every bite I take.
Also, due to my fear of needles, I had previously refused to take insulin shots. I can no longer refuse, so through my constant flow of tears, I have learned how to give myself insulin injections.
I know that once I accept it all mentally, this will all get much easier.
I plan on continuing to eat a whole food plant-based diet because it makes me feel the healthiest overall. However, I am done trying to lose weight and will be happy to be in weight maintenance mode. I will reflect more to figure out what tweaks may help going forward. I will continue to take oral medication and insulin as needed to re-gain control of my blood sugar.
By the way, some caring people have reached out to me suggesting that I might have been misdiagnosed with Type 2 (insulin resistant) diabetes. Instead, I may have Type 1 (insulin dependent), also known as Type 1.5, or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA). I’ve had 3 DKA attacks, which are highly unusual in Type 2. I asked my hospital doctor, and she said I was “definitely Type 2” because I was previously keeping my blood sugar under control with oral medicine. I explained that it’s common for oral meds to work for a while for Type 1.5 diabetics. I also said that C-Peptide along with GAD antibody tests can determine my type. She was defensive and dismissive. Fortunately, I have an upcoming appointment with an endocrinologist, and I will request those tests at that time.
Managing diabetes is HARD! You can follow my journey on Facebook.