Finding a Silver Lining from DKA

Finding a Silver Lining from DKA

Finding the Silver Lining from Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Finding a Silver Lining from DKA

Diabetic Ketoacidosis at
Freshman Orientation Camp

In August 2015, our 18 year old Type 1 Diabetic son set off for his college freshman orientation camp.

He almost did not make it home alive.

DKA is a demon. It shows no mercy. It sneaks in on your bad days and is always waiting in the wings to grab you if you let your guard down.

Type 1 Diabetes and Sports

Tristan Edgar is a college student at
Texas Tech University in Texas. 

What is DKA?

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a complication from diabetes that can be serious and life-threatening. DKA is often a common factor when first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and can often be mistaken for flu symptoms. It also occurs during the management of the disease when the body is not receiving enough insulin to break down glucose. This forces the body to start breaking down fat as fuel and ketones are then released into the body. Elevated ketones in the urine, severe weight loss, extreme thirst, blurry vision, lethargy and disorientation are all signs of DKA. If left untreated, DKA will lead to coma and death. For more information on DKA, please visit Beyond Type 1 DKASource: Beyond Type 1 www.beyondtype1.org

 

Dehydration plays a role

DKA snagged my son within the first day of his camp. A stomach bug and dehydration gave DKA an invite to join his plans. No, his blood sugar was not necessarily high. It is important to note that blood sugars do not always have to be high for diabetic ketoacidosis.

Dehydration can have a huge impact as well. Combined with a stomach virus, that was a cocktail that could not be beat.

College freshmen are adults

Yes. The camp knew he was diabetic. Yes. They had a full clinic onsite. But a clinic that does not recognize the signs of DKA can’t help. A teen who does not realize how quickly things can go seriously wrong creates a perfect storm.

It is also important to remember, teens going off to college are adults. Due to HIPAA, a clinic will not take the initiative to call the parents.

Too sick to be here…at the hospital!

Between 6-7 hours after he stepped into the camp clinic, they sent a camp counselor to drive him to the hospital. He was so sick at this point, he needed to be in ICU!

The hospital took one look at him and said “He is too sick to be here!” So they shipped him  five hours by ambulance to the medical center in Houston. Two full time attendants on him – a moving Intensive Care Unit on wheels.

Very lucky

Everybody got very lucky on this one. Our son, our family and the university. We dodged the DKA bullet. And we ALL learned something very valuable.

With the development of new technology such as CGMs and close parental management, it is possible to go many years without a DKA incident.

That is fantastic for our T1s. But… that also means we forget.

DKA can be deadly

Unless your teen has had a recent diabetic ketoacidosis incident, it is easy for a teen to head off to college not realizing how serious and deadly it can be. And it’s fast. Immediate response to DKA is critical.

DKA likes to loom behind simple illnesses. Knowing how to handle a sick day is important for teens.

You can learn more about a College Sick Day plan here. 

Teach your Teen the Signs of DKA!

Headaches – Extreme Thirst – Frequent Urination
Fatigue & Weakness – Blurry Vision – Fruity Breath Odor
Rapid Deep Breathing –  Nausea & Vomiting
Pain in the abdomen – High Ketone Levels (blood/urine)
High Blood Glucose* – Dry/Flushed Skin

*BG does not always have to be high to develop ketones.
Dehydration and illness can impact DKA symptoms.

Remind your teen that these symptoms can also be mistaken for:
flu, virus, a stomach bug or strep throat.

Finding a silver lining

Our family tries to find the silver lining in the dark cloud of diabetes. We created Type 1 To Go Teen so we could share some of the challenges of T1D Teen years.

There are so many things to address before a teen leaves for college. DKA Awareness should be one of them.

Over the last year, I have spoken at many events. Parents and teens ask me what I think is the MOST important thing they should do to prepare to leave for college with diabetes.

My answer: Know the signs of DKA and have a Sick Day Plan.

DKA Awareness at the University

In addition to Type 1 To Go Teen, we have asked our son’s university to participate in the Beyond Type 1 DKA Campaign. University health services teams need to know the symptoms and seriousness of DKA.  They also need to be able to share that with their Type 1 students who are away from home for the first time.

We are losing too many young adults to DKA. That was almost us and we will never forget that. It was a great teachable opportunity for everyone involved.

Texas Tech University kicks off the Beyond Type 1 Type 1 Diabetes/DKA Campaign.

Texas Tech Health Services Team is “Guns Up” to promote
Type 1 Diabetes Awareness on their campuses!

A silver lining from my son’s DKA – Texas Tech University became the third Texas college to commit to the Beyond Type 1 DKA Awareness campaign. The Student Health Science center is a vital team player for our son’s well-being while he is at school.

I am super proud of Texas Tech University for increasing awareness for Type 1 Diabetes and DKA with their students.

Making friends at camp

Our son did not get to enjoy his college freshman orientation experience. Being in DKA prevented him from making new friends at the camp.

However, his friends made friends.  His friends introduced him to a sweet young girl from the camp the first week on campus.

They introduced him as “That kid who was in the hospital at camp”. She said “Oh, you’re that guy!” and he said “Yep, I’m THAT guy!”

And they have been together ever since!!!

Texas Tech Students support the Beyond Type 1 T1D/DKA Campaign

Tristan Edgar & Amanda Hodge met the first week at Texas Tech University.
They are excited to see Texas Tech increase Type 1 Diabetes awareness. 

That sweet girl has been a blessing to our family. Amanda is studying nursing and she keeps an eye on our Type 1 Diabetic son for us! She has even attended his endocrinology appointments with him. Our son adores her and so do we!

Now that’s truly finding a silver lining from DKA!!!

Written by Anne Imber
published on 7/12/2017 by www.Type1ToGo.com 

Anne Imber is the mom to a Type 1 Diabetic son diagnosed in 2009. As the Founder of Type 1 To Go Teen, Anne shares her experiences with other Type 1 families regarding many of the non-medical issues that Type 1 Diabetic Teens face. The website www.Type1ToGo.com provides support materials from her presentations. Anne is also the Co-Founder of Cy Fair Type One Connection, a T1 School Advocacy & Support Group for one of the largest school districts in Texas.

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Turning 18 for High School Seniors Presents a Medical Dilemma

Turning 18 for High School Seniors Presents a Medical Dilemma

Turning 18 for High School Seniors

An Important Reminder for Parents! 

Turning 18 for High School Seniors presents a medical dilemma. This is an important reminder for parents. Once your child turns 18, you no longer have access to their medical records and doctors. That magic number 18 shuts doors for parents still trying to assist their child when making medical decisions.

Managing a child with a chronic illness? Parents, add this to your List of Things To Do Senior Year.

Of course those same issues apply for ANY parent and teen.  If you have a High School Senior, it is important to review this before your teen leaves the nest.

Trust me! Two hospitals and a five hour ambulance ride with our 18 year old taught us how important it is!

Teens are not always ready

Life with Type 1 Diabetes  involves far too many medical appointments and hospital visits. Hundreds of medical decisions and appointments shared together with my kid.

Even when a “child” suddenly turns 18 and qualifies as an “adult”, they are not always ready to take on responsibility of all their medical decisions.

Speaking from experience

Within 24 hours of sending our Type 1 Diabetic son to his College Freshman Camp, we received a call from a college camp counselor that our son was being admitted to a hospital. He was in serious DKA from his diabetes. DKA can be deadly. It is so serious the hospital in that small Texas town could not handle him.

They were going to be shipping him out… anywhere…just some place capable of handling his potentially deadly condition.

Over 250 miles from home and the hospital was preparing to ship him out to another hospital within a 500 mile radius from us.

Scary.  We had not even been able to speak with our son. We just started driving…and hoped they would tell us where he was going.

At 18, he was officially an adult

At 18, he was officially an adult but he was still my child. And he was far too sick to be making any decisions for himself.

There is nothing worse than being in that situation and the hospital won’t let you speak to your child.  They won’t give you any information either. All because of the rules with HIPAA.

For any parent with a High School Senior, I highly recommend you read up on HIPAA. You and your teen are going to need to know this.

We were prepared

Thankfully, we were prepared for just this type of situation. We had a Medical Power of Attorney in place for our son so we could make decisions for him. It also gave the hospital the right to speak with us about his condition.

My son really did not want to get the bills from the hospital either! This also gave us the right to speak with the hospital regarding billing.

Having the appropriate legal documentation in place allowed us to still be involved with our son’s medical care.

HIPAA - LEARN MORE!

Every family needs to know this. 

Are YOU ready?

I know it’s so easy to get caught up with Graduation parties and decorating dorm rooms.  But this is one more thing you need to add to your List of Things To Do.

If you happen to have a child with a chronic health condition like we do, it is an absolute must. Type 1 To Go has a great Turning 18 page you can review for reference.

It applies to ALL teens turning 18, we just happen to have one who is Type 1 Diabetic.  If you know friends with graduating High School seniors, share this with them too.

Check out our Turning 18 Page!

A must read for parents of High School Seniors. 

Five hours by ambulance – a moving ICU

After driving two and a half hours to reach our son, the hospital decided to send our son to The Medical Center in Houston, Texas. It would be a five hour ambulance ride manned by two attendants in addition to a driver. A moving Intensive Care Unit.

By talking with us, the ER doctor decided Houston would be the best place for him. We are thankful for the smart and compassionate doctor who treated him in our absence with our input over the phone.

We were thankful we were able to tell the hospital that we had Medical Power of Attorney for our son so they would speak with us. We also have this documentation in an electronic format so we can easily share it with others in an emergency.

The billing

Since HIPAA impacts billing, my son was grateful that we could pay the two hospital visits and five hour ambulance ride. Without the proper documentation, we would not have been able to negotiate the bill on his behalf.

Oh yea, and if you have not already ordered an extra Health Savings Account card or Flex Spending Account card for your kid, you should get right on that.

We plan for the worst

Type 1 Diabetes teaches you to plan for the worst. We have had a rough ride with this brutal disease during our son’s teen years. Some close calls have taught us to always be prepared for the worst case scenario. Oh the stories we could tell…

We are just sharing what we learned so other parents can be prepared too.

Written by Anne Imber
published on 4/19/2017

Anne Imber is the mom to a Type 1 Diabetic son diagnosed in 2009. As the Founder of Type 1 To Go Teen, Anne shares her experiences with other Type 1 families regarding many of the non-medical issues that Type 1 Diabetic Teens face. The website www.Type1ToGo.com provides support materials from her presentations. Anne is also the Co-Founder of Cy Fair Type One Connection, a T1 School Advocacy & Support Group for one of the largest school districts in Texas.

This information provided for general use only.
It is not intended as medical and/or legal advice.
Always consult your doctor for medical advice.
All Rights Reserved. 

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Turning 18
HIPAA

 

Type 1 To Go Tool
Turning 18 Checklist 

 

 

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