Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Click for the Memories - Wednesday 5/15 Link List
Today we’re going to share our most memorable diabetes day. You can take this anywhere.... your or your loved one's diagnosis, a bad low, a bad high, a big success, any day that you’d like to share. (Thanks to Jasmine of Silver-Lined for this topic suggestion.)

In high school I attended Clara Barton Adventure Camp. It was a spin off camp where we spent two weeks backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking or similar. It was an amazing way to learn how to manage diabetes and how to be safe doing such variable activities, for hours at a time, away from the safety net of ambulances.

One morning we left our camp site for a day of rock climbing.  On the way to the climbing I was getting very very car sick. I tend to get car sick so I had been sitting in the front seat of the van for the whole trip.  Today, for some reason I felt sick anyway. When we got to the parking lot where we were going to hike up to the rocks, I said I felt very sick and I thought I was going to throw up. My counselor tried to calm me, said we were out of the van and I'd start to feel better soon.  A moment later I dashed to the edge of the driveway and projectile vomited into the woods. (Sorry for the visual, it is the part that makes it so memorable.)

"I guess she was serious," my counselor said.  Once I collected myself and we got all our gear together we set off to hike up to the rock climbing site. It was a 20min light hike up. I wasn't feeling any relief from emptying my stomach so I just sipped my water from my camelback trying to convince myself it would pass. I drank 2 of my 3.5 liters of water on that hike.  At the top the guides were setting top ropes and I sat down for a break. Moments later it happened again, slid down the rock ran a couple steps and threw up 2 liters of pure water (weird right, has anyone ever thrown pure clean water).

It was not until that point that one of my brilliant peers suggested I test. I was 300something. Our nurse counselor gave me a ketostick and I had the new experience of peeing on a strip in the woods...(doubt many people get to do that). It was dark purple.  As dark as dark can be. I checked my hip and sure enough, my pump site was out.  It was still stuck to me, but one corner of the adhesive was off and the tube was out and kinked and happily dosing my shorts all my morning insulin.  It had probably pulled off in the early morning so that my fasting blood sugar of 200ish was not alarming.  And my car sick history tricked me into ignoring my body.

Everything worked out fine from that point. I changed my site (because we brought all back up supplies with us.) I injected my correction directly. My friends shared their water with me since I was getting low on it (despite bringing so much along). I sat out the first round of climbing, but by an hour later I was feeling better and a few hours later I was feeling fine. By the end of the day I was loving rock climbing.

This was my first DKA experience since I was diagnosed 4 years before and my first experience since being on the pump with a true site problem. This lack of insulin thing has happened to me since then. But now I know that feeling. The pasty mouth, nausea, weird feeling in my lungs. And I know now how to handle it.  I know that if I immediately try to down water, I will throw it up, but if I inject insulin, wait about 30 minutes and then start flushing, all will return to normal by the end of the day.

I remember this first DKA experience vividly. I think that being in the wilderness for it and learning how to handle it has served me so well over the years. It has taught me to be prepared (can you imagine if I hadn't had back up supplies with me?!) It has taught me not to panic. And it has taught me that even surrounded by 10 other people with diabetes and a nurse who is there explicitly for that reason, diabetes can be sneaky. I might have caught the DKA earlier, but I didn't and neither did anyone else, and it turned out OK.


  1. Wow! Isn't it nice when something rotten helps us to do better, later?

  2. That's pretty much the perfect storm of events. Glad the day ended on a positive note, though!