Battling the Flu and Diabetes

Ann Bartlett Health Guide
  • Last week was a zinger!  I was overbooked with clients all week and I had barely a moment to look up.  Then my brother called on Tuesday to tell me my mom had been admitted to the hospital wing where she lives.  Either she had the flu or food poisoning.  Later that same day, I decided that on Thursday, my day off from my office, I would travel the 2 hours, one way, to see my mom for the day and come home late Thursday night.  I had a full day on Friday and an eye doctor appointment first thing Friday morning.  I felt strongly that my mother needed to see me and I was comfortable with driving and relaxing in the car.

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    When Friday hit, I felt tired and run down. I blocked out my schedule from 4pm to 6pm to allow for an acupuncture treatment, to help treat the fatigue, and dinner.  When I stood up from my acupuncture treatment, I felt something had changed and not for the better.  I walked down the street for dinner and had a bowl of chicken and rice soup.  As I walked back to the office, I noticed I was feeling worse; less like myself with every step. I walked in the door and I called my 7:30 client and canceled, telling her I thought I might have the flu.  My 6 pm client was waiting and I felt the aches begin.  I managed to get through my last hour and rushed out the door for home.


    I walked in the door of the house around 7:30 and starting getting sick.  I was concerned that I still had a dinner bolus (extra insulin) on board.  I took my blood sugar and my heart sank, the meter read 29 and I still had 4.4 units of active insulin!  I tried to put some apple juice down, but couldn't hold on to it.  Because I was so low, I was not able to focus well on what the next steps needed to be.  Additionally, my husband has a needle phobia, so he can't give a glucagon injection and has never figured out how it works to help in this situation.  So my husband and I decided to forgo trying to manage with glucagon and headed for an ER. 


    When I walked in the hospital door, I explained what was happening and they immediately took me in.  I told them my last blood glucose was 40, right before I left the house, but had lost all the apple juice on the ride over! (ugh and yuk!).  When they took the blood sugar, it read 38.  So without delay, they triaged and hooked up an IV line.  The ER doc talked with me and ordered a dextrose stick and blood work to see if they could figure out what was making me sick.  Then the triage personnel wheeled me into the back and the nurse walked in with a huge stick of dextrose!  My blood sugar took a long time to come up.  It managed to get to 150, but they could not get it any higher; furthermore at 4 am I was still unable to keep anything down.  Dr. Martin decided to admit me for the rest of the night to continue to monitor the blood glucose until I could hold down some food.  By Saturday morning I was better, and by noon I was keeping clear liquids down and by 4 pm I was released to go home to my own bed to recover.


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    I've written about taking quick action for diabetes care by heading to an ER and this was a perfect example.  If you are sick and your blood sugar is too high, you might need help to work out the solution.  If you are sick and your blood sugar is too low, you will also need help - and probably more so with a low blood sugar!


    My friends were surprised and worried that I was in the hospital, but I explained I averted a small diabetes management crisis and all I really had was the flu. We have gotten into a mindset that going to the hospital is about a life-threatening crisis.  Sometimes it is, but it is also about good management practice to avoid something life threatening. It is always a best practice to let someone help you make good decisions for your care when you are having trouble managing your body and diabetes together.




Published On: April 10, 2009