ordinary illnesses

As a mom I worry about my children getting sick. We take precautions when we are out and about. We wash our hands and use hand sanitizer at the drop of a hat. My daughter uses so much soap when she washes her hands that I am afraid she’ll slip down the drain. I wish that neither of my children would ever catch a cold or virus, but that’s not going to happen. And it’s when my son with Type 1 diabetes gets a virus or a cold that the ordinary illness becomes not so ordinary.

When Type 1 diabetes is thrown into the loop regular occurrences such as colds and virus become so much more. It becomes ketones and erratic blood sugars and lots and lots and lots of finger sticks. Sure we still have to watch the fever and treat the symptoms of stuffy noses and coughs, but it becomes so much more than that.

Ketones can kill, plain and simple.

In people with Type 1 diabetes ketones are mainly caused by lack of insulin. Ketones are when your body body burns stored fat for energy. In a nutshell, ketones are not good, EVER. Most times you can keep ketones away by providing the proper amount of insulin. But then of course, in times of illness, all bets are off. Ketones can appear at the first sign of illness. So along with fighting stuffy noses, and fever, people with Type 1 diabetes need to fight ketones as well. That is very very hard to do. It’s like fighting 2 completely different battles within the same body.

The way to get rid of ketones is to give more insulin. Most times they are not impossible to get rid of at home, but many times especially when they are stubbornly attached to an illness they have to be dealt with in the hospital. So it’s not the stuffy nose or fever that requires the trip to the ER, it’s the ketones. Remember ketones can kill, let’s not forget that.

Then there are the extra finger sticks. Don’t get me started. My boy already endures 10 or more finger sticks a day just to stay healthy on a regular day. Throw in an illness that causes high, erratic blood sugars and ketones and the finger sticks become exponential. During an illness it is not unheard of to check every hour on the hour. Do the math, that’s 24 finger sticks in one day.

My son only has 10 fingers just like most every other six year old.  Twenty four finger sticks in one day, plain and simple, hurt. They hurt one the actual finger and they hurt on the inside.Think about the last time you had the flu, or head cold. Now think if every hour on the hour someone was going to stab your finger with a needle just enough to make you bleed. Wears on you. Inside and out.

Why check so much you may be asking yourself. We check because it’s the only way to know what is going on inside my son’s body along with all the symptoms on the outside. Tylenol can help a fever, but it does nothing for high blood sugars, believe me I wish it would. The only way to tell if more insulin is needed is to to a finger stick. Insulin helps lower the blood sugar levels and helps rid the body of those ketones. Finger sticks are the window to my son’s blood.

And plain and simple during a time of ordinary illness it is not unheard of to see numbers of 300 or higher. All in the day in the life of a child with Type 1 diabetes when he is hit with the sniffles.

So the next time something seems ordinary to you take a moment to think how lucky you are. Ordinary is just that, ordinary, and that’s not so bad.

Leslie posted at 2009-10-29 Category: Uncategorized

One Response Leave a comment

  1. #1Mamabear @ 2010-1-12 15:42

    This is what frightens me the most, now that my son is grown and living far away.
    We have had some terrible times when he was younger, but at least I was there to fight for him. The last time he got really low, he had convulsions and was taken to the hospital. He was wearing his MedicAlert bracelet that clearly states that he is insulin dependant. He got aggressive and combative (which is not unusual when blood sugars are low), and the emergency room doctor gave him HALDOL, which is an antipsychotic drug. He ended up in ICU for 3 days. All he needed was some sugar and something to eat, but the HALDOL really messed him up.