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Sometimes you will be surprised…

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This past week a young man of 19 was admitted to my hospital with a blood sugar over 600 ketones in his blood, and he was VERY VERY SICK. He just avoided being placed on a ventilator probably by a hair. He was barely able to say his own name when he came through the door, brought by his friends.{{more}} He did recover and relayed to us that he had never had a diagnosis of diabetes before, so this was all new. He had just moved to attend college here and he had gone through a very busy first week of adjustments, parties, new foods, etc. We were fairly certain it would turn out that this young man had a first-time diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, given his age and the way he came into the hospital quite so sick. In addition he was not overweight, but instead very active and actually on one of the athletic teams at the school.

Surprise! Surprise! Imagine our surprise when a few days later, we find this young man needs TONS of insulin, very unlike a typical person with Type 1 diabetes. Then we received the results of some special tests we can use to determine if someone has Type 1 or not -he does not have Type 1 diabetes, but instead has Type 2.

Now why am I telling you this story? Two reasons:

First, neither you nor your doctor should stand firm on assumptions because you will be wrong sometimes, and refusing to LOOK at the information more objectively can sometimes cause delays in proper treatments. We thankfully did keep increasing this young man’s insulin doses to get his blood sugars controlled, even though we were surprised he needed so much. If we had waited and continued with small doses, his blood sugars would still be sky high at this point.

Second, as I discussed at length with this young man and his family, stress can be a huge trigger for illness in someone with diabetes. We have seen a number of first-time diabetes diagnoses come after a stressful event, happy or unhappy: surgery, marriage, moving to a new place, new job, exam time, etc. And those people who already know they have diabetes, often they will notice a rise in blood sugars during stressful periods of time. I encourage you to be aware of those patterns, be it work deadlines or exams, etc, and try to accommodate them with changes in your medication and eating patterns so as to offset the bump in blood sugars you may see. Stay well hydrated with water, most importantly. Stay on track with your medications. And if your blood sugars continue to rise, or you feel unwell, confused, tired, nauseated, etc, please be sure to seek help at the nearest clinic. You do not want to be as sick as this young man, who turned up at the hospital very nearly on death’s door.

Until next week, stay safe and healthy Vincies!

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