my pump and my medicine
The illness post. I was off before with a sore throat and being sick but I thought it was just a twenty-four hour thing and brushed it off and returned to work. A few days later my boss went home early with the same symptoms. A day after that I started to feel off. If I ate I didn’t want as much as usual and was left feeling uncomfortable after a meal. My throat started to get sore too but I soldiered on. Then on Friday I woke up feeling horrendous. Luckily it was my day off so I was able to stay in bed until the last moment before getting up to prepare to go to a friend’s leaving do. Since starting work I have missed all the night’s out due to working the next day or other plans so with being off I was determined to at least go for a while and then come home to sleep before work the next day. My throat hurt and I felt sick but I soldiered on while having two horrendous hypos. I just could not get my blood sugars up at all so the amount of sugar I packed into myself to fix that had me feeling rotten and therefore I ignored all the other symptoms creeping up on me thinking it was just the hypos. I made sure to eat a decent meal but I had to force that down and I only had a couple of drinks with juice mixed in. It became obvious I was getting ill fast.
My first bus had the decency to just not bother turning up as does sometimes happen which made me feel anxious as it meant the next was bus the last. I got steadily sicker until I found myself sick at the bus stop. Thankfully there were no witnesses but I was determined no one find out. I knew what they would say – that I drank too much. I knew that was not the case. Three glasses of wine is not enough to put me anything past tipsy and they were spaced out with other drinks and food as I said. I knew I had to get home to bed as my throat was already feeling more swollen and sore. I explained to my parents that I had taken the large bottle of water from the fridge for that reason and climbed into bed and that is when the nightmare really began.
I threw up at half past 2 on the Saturday night and proceeded to throw up every couple of hours on average for the next 52. I tried to call for help to get a glass of water or something but the only help that came was in the form of my dogs who sat by my side and pressed their noses to my ribs when I eased up from the bowl. By this time my head was pounding and my face felt like it was in a vice. My muscles were starting to ache in my chest from throwing up and my knees were protesting the constant up and down on the linoleum floor. By the morning I was a right mess but I was met by the usual sceptical look that I was ill at all. I could literally cough a lung at my mother’s foot and she would still take a moment to decide if I was ‘at it’. A lingering legacy of my ill ridden teenage years and not being diagnosed is a constant distrust that I am as unwell as I say and not just ‘lazy’. Of course, that is never said anymore. It doesn’t have to be. I don’t even think she realises she does it anymore. The more I was sick the more my muscles hurt from the effort. Now my arms and shoulders were going and my bottom and legs and well just everything hurt really. So of course my mother decided this was the perfect time to clean the top floor of the house and my room. So, being sick every few hours, unable to eat and swimming in ketones I was kicked out of my bed and sent downstairs. I was now feverish and rolling around the sofa groaning while pressing a bottle of water to my head. Comfort never came.
What happened next is mostly a mystery. I know I was in my room at 2pm. I know I kept being sick and that I could hardly stand myself but I don’t remember anything else until 9pm when I was croaking for a glass of water and my dad appeared to give me one. I was confused that he was home and that he was in his pajamas. I knew that if I was going to keep being sick I had to at least drink so that there was something to come up. If there was nothing, bile came or I just retched and that hurt more than being sick as my innards scrambled for something to get rid of. My blood sugars climbed the whole time and though I did not realise it at the time my constant wriggling around to try and find some sort of relief on my muscles meant I managed to kink the cannula inserted in my side that controls my insulin pump. It had been working fine for 2 days. I became utterly delirious by midnight. I kept babbling about towels and water. My blood sugars were too high to measure and I was unable to work my pump myself in that state. At the time we thought it was working but my parents took the decision to manually inject me with insulin rather than attempt to use the pump with me. Three times I was given a glass of water and three times I spilled it all over myself. I was mortified and my parents worried I thought I had peed myself. No, I at least knew that much. In my attempts to sort my pump I exposed myself to my parents so that was lovely too.
This was the first time my parents considered the hospital and the reality that I probably had the dreaded novovirus. It is known for the winter but I always have to be awkward. We were now fighting a dangerous battle with the virus and my disease. A diabetic will dehydrate at a quicker rate than a non diabetic person will and given how sick I was being I was losing fluid fast. My attempts to keep myself hydrate probably made me more sick but I had to try and fight off the ketones, poisonous toxins the body release when blood sugars are high and not enough insulin is present to break down energy. Ketoacidosis could kill me if it set in so overnight was a joint effort of the family getting up and doing injections. While I could just about inject myself I could not hold my hands steady enough to test my blood sugars. They were terrifyingly unsteady. It did not help that in her efforts mum had turned the depth of the pricker down so it was barely getting through the scar tissue of my fingers never mind getting blood out. Overnight we injected and injected, all the while never realising the pump had kinked and wasn’t giving the background I needed. Those injections of novorapid were sure doing a hell of a job to keep me above water, just enough to mask the failure of the pump.
Sunday was mostly a haze. The only thing to really galvanize me out of my stupor was my friend Steph urgently needing my help. I stumbled my way downstairs, water in hand, hit the wall several times on the way down and fell onto the couch sideways asking my mum to get her laptop out. Txting Steph the information she needed was a herculean feat. My fingers felt like they were connected to someone else. They just didn’t go where I wanted. I settled for explaining I was ill and hoping my approximation of words made sense to her. I felt useless and cursed my immune system for yet again falling victim to something. I now recognised my previous day off as my body’s heroic stand against the virus but my health has done too much damage. It will never stand up to much, not for long. At least it tried.
I returned to by sickbed with a tea biscuit. A single tea biscuit. The best way to drive ketones from the body is to obviously lower the blood sugar but also to get food into the system. I had high hopes for my tea biscuit. It took me nearly half an hour to eat it and less than an hour after that to throw it up again. So much for my tea biscuit. I lay in bed and the hours passed as I writhed and moaned and wished the pain would just end. My heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest. I could feel the skin moving, I could hear it in my ears. My coughing and vomiting meant I had red bruises across my chest and ribs from the force of it all. Bumps covered my joints. I hated going to the toilet because sitting was just agony and getting up even worse. My blood sugar soared again and again we thought of the hospital. I was in so much pain and I couldn’t see a way out. My parents nipped out to the shops for essentials and I carefully tried to change my insulin pump so it was fresh in hospital and found my dad was right, all my wriggling had upset the connection. I set up a new one and set myself flooding with insulin. Then I set my trembling hands to my phone to google the virus. I used my left hand to hold my right index finger as steady as I could and poked in enough letters for google to work out my request. It quickly cancelled my hope for hospital help. Patients with the novovirus are advised to avoid everyone and anyone in case they cause an outbreak. So much for my hydrating drip. Imagine wanting a drip? It would be unlikely I would be admitted unless my ketoacidosis went proper off the rails. That would probably mean a direct route to intensive care and I had no intensions of going back there. I had already told mum I would only go it straight to a ward because I didn’t want to sit and infect people in A&E…or sit and be sick there for that matter but that plan was up in dust. It was up to us.
All the time my mum’s type one diabetes and her impending holiday loomed in my mind. I dreaded giving it to her and ruining everything. I shoved her away when really I wanted her the most.
As my pump came back online my bloods dropped. I’m still battling to keep them in the teens with ridiculous amounts of insulin but so far it is working. Around this time I also, thankfully, stopped being sick. A bath suddenly seemed like a possible idea. It was a scary idea. What if I was sick and had to spew over the side? Ew. What if I could not get out because I was in so much pain? Mortifying. What if the hot water just made things hurt more? Oh. I decided I had already flashed my breasts at everyone so if I could at least cover my privates then I was ok. The first hurdle was the realisation that there was just no way I was going to be able to bend into the bath, put the plunger in and turn the wee thing that holds it down for a bath. Dad was called. It took me far longer than should have been required to remove an old football top, the pump from around my neck and some bottoms. I was still not sure. I had towels all over the floor in case I was sick. One of the dogs kept peering in to make sure I was ok and then trotting off again. I felt about eighty getting into the bath. Every movement was calculated and came with a wince. Now, I have endometriosis which is agonising. It takes a lot to make me hurt. Despite my fears the water was instant relief. My muscles eased up as did my headache and the nausea. I felt not too bad for the fifteen minutes I was in but I could already feel myself start to seize up again so getting out became another saga but luckily one that remained confined to me and another of the dogs. They appeared to be on a rota while I was sick.
I continued to not eat and squirm my way uncomfortably into Monday but the sickness was clearly gone for good and the ketones left with it. Now I was officially ‘just’ sick. Test strips ran out and I ended up sharing mum’s meter and her strips. Not her pricker though because it is evil and horrific and I have no idea why she still uses it. She headed off to the Drs early on to demand emergency supplies while I spluttered my way through an order to animas for more pump supplies quicker than previously predicted too. I attempted and gave up on soup and dozed away my day. By the evening I was able to read some of a book. Before that words would blur and not make sense. My vision was impaired the whole time. Still cannot see the TV in the living room correctly. I barked and I spluttered and I felt sick and then I couldn’t sleep.
Overnight however my cough got even worse. It was so painful to cough I can’t really describe it but I was bringing up the dreaded green gunk so that green lighted me to phone the Dr and hope they would be able to give me something. For understandable reasons they were alarmed and demanded I go the surgery for more inclusive urine tests and stuff. I was not impressed. I just wanted a prescription over the phone. In my huff I declined to get dressed and put a hoodie on over my jammies and sulked down with a snood on so that all my germs were kept to me. Of course all the elderly people glowered at me for this. It was THEM I wanted to protect. This virus is dangerous enough in people my age, never mind people with other conditions, never mind nosey old goats like them.
The doctor confirmed I had a nasty version of the novo virus and an infected respiratory tract as well. Ketones home monitors would not be able to detect lingered as I wasn’t eating and there were a couple of other ‘unwell’ boxes that lit up on the big strip thing. I was praised for keeping control of my diabetes despite how close to the wire it went. My throat was not even looked at which I was miffed at but my chest was listened to and I got amoxicillin so I was happy. As many know, people are becoming far too reliant on anti-biotics and demanding them when they won’t even work. Worse, Drs were handing them over for years. As a result my personal surgery is like the pentagon. Getting anything off them is serious business so I clutched my pills proudly. I then managed to eat a bowl of soup and a roll. A whole roll. Ok it took me forty minutes but I was deliriously happy and my blood sugars were in single figures. That night was terrible because the medicine was working. I know that sounds strange. All the crap sitting in my lungs was being broken up by the amoxicillin and it wanted up and out. As previously discussed my breasts are heavy and large and prevent me lying on my back anyway but now it felt I had yet another large weight sitting there, like a unwanted third tit. Every roll from side to side was like a dull weight shifting with me. At one point I moved in an angle that meant I literally smacked myself in the face with my own boob then I had a coughing fit. I felt utterly miserable.
I’m off work, clearly and still struggling on what is day 7 of the virius. Al the guidelines say it goes after 3 max but the joys of being diabetic. I am still waddling around with tissues, hardly eating, hacking up organs and testing my blood every two hours. My fingers are utterly killing me. I’m very lucky the way I type means the pressure points don’t hit because I’m relying on the internet and my xbox for entertainment as my brain tries to peer through the fog. It is weird to think how close I came to ending up in hospital and how close it all came to spiralling out of control. It is horrible to think that something most would beat in days is going to take me into weeks. This virus has stripped me to my bones. It turned me into a helpless child. It is easily the most ill I have been in over a decade but still the idea of flirting with death as I did (delirium, bloods that high, being sick, let’s not beat around the bush) alarms those around me. It does not alarm me. I am used to it. I have stared death in the face a few times. Now, at no point did I truly go ‘I’m dying’ but my family and I had many moments of ‘we’re on the brink’, knowing that if we toppled over only lightening reflexes from the hospital and dumb luck would pull me back. It is just what diabetes is and how quickly the coin can turn. I don’t like the series but I can’t think of a better way to finish this blog.
There is only one thing we say to Death. ‘Not Today’