Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Guest Post: That One Time She Was In DKA.

Shep & I - November 2013.
Today, I'm going to try something different. This post is written by my housemate, Shep. She's a Law and American Law student at the same university as me and we've lived together since our first year (despite year abroad, of course). Her connection to diabetes is me. This is her take on the night I ended up in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). It was almost two years ago now (December 2011), and I honestly don't remember all that much about what happened. But the little I do remember is enough for me to know that DKA is something I never want to experience again! Ever! I'd never really asked for the blanks to be filled in; what I remembered was bad enough! So, I give you "That One Time She Was In DKA: Shep's Perspective."

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Dear Donkey Kong [Editor's Note: Donkey Kong needs explaining! In short, when "briefing" my housemates about all things diabetes, I obviously covered DKA. Shep hears DK and associated that with Donkey Kong. For me, I don't care how they remember DKA is bad, as long as they do!]

I have lived with a diabetic for basically 3 years now. I try my best to understand as much as I can and if there is something I can do to share the burden I will do it, or at least try. I try to live it, but I can’t and never will be able to (even though I sometimes feel that I do… We were 4000 miles away for a year and I still bought diet lemonade, sugar free jelly, and had skittles in my bag for emergencies.) [Editor's Note: Real friend right there!]

But you, Donkey Kong, are the closest thing I have ever been to living it. To feeling it. I hate sympathy pains…

You effed up a lot of things and still to this day confuse and bewilder me. I don’t know why but you just one day decided you would rear your ugly head and it’s a night I will never forget. The same cannot be said for my friend. You took all the memories she had of that night, stole an evening’s worth of hours. 

This isn’t something I quite realised the gravity of until now. You paid a visit on the 13th of December 2011 and it wasn’t until this September (2013) that I even realised how little Vicki knew of that night. 

It was our housemate’s birthday and naturally we wanted to celebrate. J.Ban wanted to go to Vodka Revs, and we happily accompanied him. There was a large group of us all drinking and having fun. All was going well, J.Ban was having a good time, we were enjoying the drinks but then you showed up and messed everything up. 

I gotta hand it to you, though, you are one sneaky lil' bugger DK. You crept up with out anyone noticing. Vicki felt hyper. Then there were ketones. NovoRapid wasn’t so rapid and levels just kept effing going up. 

The night went on and levels just wouldn’t fall. By this point I wasn’t sure what was going on. Still didn’t expect you DK but I knew something was up. I had faith in Vicki but there are only so many fingers to prick and sites to shoot up in and I was certain we had hit the point of no return before we left Vodka Revs. But the real certainty happened on the way home and it hit me like a ton of bricks. 

I said that you stole memories of that night from Vicki and I think this is where it began. Stupid effing Monkey! I found out only recently that this is where the gaps started for her and this is where I fill in.

We got to the bridge, just me and Vicki as we were further ahead and others were somewhat drunk. We had all been drinking but in the cold I was sobering up a little bit. Vicki wasn’t. Obviously she wasn’t drunk and yet I have no other way to explain this. She swayed, she slurred, her eyes were slow and she didn’t seem cold. All of these things are out of character… Vicki doesn’t let herself get that drunk and I knew that it wasn’t that. I have seen her put away her fair share (more than that night) and be fine and dandy. This was something else. We waited for the others to catch up at the bottom of the bridge and Vicki was talking away to herself. It was odd man! DK you turned the world the wrong way round. When the others caught up I spoke to Fernandez and told her something was fucked up. She took one look at Vicki and was thinking what I was thinking.  

That is when it dawned on us that you had arrived. Donkey Kong had taken over……

Fernandez was on drunk watch and I was on DK watch and we walked home. We had decided that we would see what levels were when we got in. It was around a 15min walk from the bridge and that should make a dent…
It didn’t. 

We got in and Vicki went to the bathroom. The boys were drunk and FIFA was the most important thing. Which is probably a good thing as they would have freaked out at this point if they knew. Mind you I wasn’t as calm as I may have seemed. I had no idea how to handle Donkey Kong. I always joked about you but you were more terrifying than I thought.  

Now where was I, oh yes just got in… levels checked. Stupid pancreas – they had risen even more. So it was time for NHS direct. I called and Fernandez ran interference. I told them we’d been drinking but this wasn’t right. They told me to check some things.
1.       Cheeks are they hot? Yes 
2.       Is she conscious? Yes
3.       Is she coherent? Ermm…

They were keeping me on the line and I heard a whisper-shout of Shep. I went in and the bathroom door was locked. And we could hear retching. I tried to get in and couldn’t. Fernandez eventually got in but Vicki was barely conscious and had been sick. 

Time to call 999. This is why I hate you Donkey Kong. You made me have to call 999. Which was effing scary. I didn’t know what to say. Well I didn’t think I knew. But turns out I did.  

I told them she was type one. I thought it was DKA (managed not to say Donkey Kong [Editor's Note: Well done! 'Donkey Kong' is definitely not a recognised term amongt medical professionals!]). I retold what she had drunk. Eaten. When she had shot up [Editor's Note: Taken insulin]. I knew all the levels and ketone readings. I told them about NovoRapid, Levemir, everything she was on. I don’t know how but I just did it because I had to.  

Thankfully they told me I/we had done the right thing and they would be out with us asap. And they were prompt. At this point I was on the bathroom floor (still on the phone) and feeling like Vicki looked. See, sympathy pains are no fun thank you very much. They kept me on the phone in case anything changed. At some point between them sending the ambulance out and it arriving I gave Fernandez the phone and went to tell my boyfriend at the time that I was going to take a ride in an ambulance. He and my other housemates went outside to find the ambulance and flag it down.  

The paramedics came in and helped Vicki up. We helped her out and got into the back of the van with blue lights going (thankfully no siren). And we drove off… being waved off by the boys in the road giving us all the love we needed.  

We got to the end of the  road and the paramedic asked where her insulin pens were. 


My response was – well it wasn’t working anyway. Jokes are the only way to get through shit like this [Editor's note: Agreed!] So we did a loop. I called Fernandez and she brought the pens from the fridge out to us. Which was good cause Vicki couldn’t even remember the stuff she was prescribed. I told the paramedics everything I could. Which turned out to be more than they needed. They didn’t seem to care when her D-Day was or that her hypo treatment is usually skittles. But I thought they might have needed to know.. and better too much. 

Vicki was laid down on the bed while me and the woman were in the back. Did you know that in the back of an ambulance you ride sideways if you’re a passenger? I didn’t. And I didn’t like it. The paramedic lady offered Vicki a cardboard sick bucket thing. She declined. But I wanted it.. I felt bloomin’ travel sick.  

So we arrived at the hospital and it was confirmed that you were there Donkey Kong. I had known for a while but now medical professionals had told me. Then there is a little bit of a blur in my knowledge. They took Vicki to a bay and I was sat on the chairs outside... I blanked. Because I actually had 5mins to sit and take it in rather than acting. But at least it wasn’t for long cause the doctor came out quickly and said I could go in. Vicki was in a similar situation .. she seemed to realise the ramifications of where she was.  

Though I’m not sure she was entirely back to earth… I say not sure… I was sure. Because this was when there was some more vomiting. But I think it was also stress related. 

The doctor only gave her one cardboard pan. Not enough. I got another of the table but it was still going… so I had to get another one. 

This was no easy feat. They were on the top of the effing cupboard. It was taller than me by about a foot. So I had to jump. I got about 6 of the buggers fall on me. Took them over to her but the tears were still coming… so what did I do? Wore a sick pan as a hat. Did a lil' dance. Cracked a few jokes.
[Of all the things to remember of this night, I wish I could remember this!] I got a faint smile from Vicki. And a laugh chuckle from behind me as the freaking doctor had come back in (apparently they wanted to do half hour checks to see if she was going down).

Whatever they had given here she was doing better and level were down. It was nearly 5am at this point and Vicki was falling asleep. By this point I was on my second wind but the doctor took me outside after talking to the both of us and checking everything. He told me to go home and sleep. I tried to argue but I was mentally exhausted from your stupid antics, Donkey Kong …  

I called a taxi from the reception. Went outside and lit 4 cigarettes in a row and called Mama Shep. Yes at 5 am. I broke. My best friend was lying in a hospital bed with tubes in her and I had seen her at her worst (she had higher levels than her diagnosis so I think that label may be accurate.) I hadn’t had a chance to think and while I was waiting for the taxi the whole night replayed at super-speed through my head over and over. It seems stupid that I wasn’t blaming Donkey Kong but kinda myself. I was thinking did I order a drink that set it off? Did I not check if it was diet coke? Could I have done something? [Editor's note: No, no, and no! You and Fernandez were a superheroes that night!]
It doesn’t make sense maybe but it was 5am and I was a broken toy. So I called my Mummy. At 5am. Not the best daughter huh? [Editor's Note: Sorry Mama Shep!] She comforted me until I got in the taxi and promised to call me the next day (which she did and by that point I was fine..) I got home. Went for a short walk before getting into bed with the boyf and slept.

Image taken from Google Images.
Donkey Kong this is your fault and I will never forget all the stupid details of that night. Never. You make me so mad and I hate everything about you cause you hurt someone I love! 

So, please, stay away and don’t ever come back. [Editor's Note: I second this request!] You are mean to plumbers and diabetics and I think this should stop.

Yours Sincerely,


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