What a strange title for a post! Well, here it’s the Thanksgiving season and you are eagerly anticipating a post about how to stuff a turkey, or how to make a pumpkin pie a Diabetic can eat without going into ketoacidosis. Well guess what, I am going to write about sick days! Sick days are so extraordinarily, unbelievably difficult for Diabetics, whole books are written about them. Probably every Diabetic magazine ever printed has devoted an issue to how to manage blood glucose levels while sick. I think probably I have read them all. I have picked up a few tidbits that are useful, but bottom line, when all you want to do is snuggle as deep down into the bed as possible and die, remembering the advice of a non-Diabetic professional can be daunting. Why am I discussing this now, when
everyone has roast turkey on their minds? I just lost a week of my life and should probably still be home in bed.
There are several kinds of “sick”, and I will try to touch on a few.
* The kind I just had/still have: Intractable, seemingly untreatable vertigo. Last Tuesday I woke up dizzy. To make a very long story as short as I can, for the next 5 days it got worse and worse, and a bit better, and awful, etc., etc. I saw multiple Doctors and specialists, had several prescriptions written, exercises prescribed, and on and on. Nothing has helped. Meanwhile dizzy, or drunk, or staggering, or stumbling is exactly how I feel when my glucose levels are 70 or lower! And that is how I felt / feel at any time that I am awake right now! In such a predicament, how does a person know when to grab the glucometer and check sugar levels? On a normal day, in good health, I check 8-10 times a day. Over the past week I have checked so much more often my insurance company is going to explode! I did learn ( and in a similar situation you must also) to check the clock and my journal before testing. What journal, you say? I keep a daily journal of all things consumed, amount, calories, grams of carbs and doses of insulin. If you do not you absolutely MUST when sick. Since I felt awful I was not particularly interested in eating, so it was doubly important to know what I ate, how much I ate, insulin amounts, etc. etc. I just wanted to lie down, curl into a fetal position and vanish, but monitoring when you feel like that is the difference between making it out alive, or ending up in the E.R., or a pine box. Not everyone is going to experience seemingly irreversible, prolonged vertigo, but if you do, track your intake, your insulin, and check your glucose levels often!
* Flu, or whatever causes upset stomach with vomiting and diarrhea: This is a bad one because anything you can possibly manage to eat does not stay put. Dehydration is imminent and can kill you if you don’t get it under control. A few years ago it put me in the hospital because absolutely nothing whatsoever that went down stayed there. How in blazes do you control your glucose (and general hydration) levels under those circumstances?! Oh man, is that a challenge. In my case it took 24 hours in the hospital and 3 bags of I.V. Fluids. Once it was all said and done and I had returned to the land of the living a friend who is a Diabetic and an R.N. saved the day. She said, when you are healthy and feeling fine, make a couple of trays of ice cubes out of apple juice, or PediaSure, or white grape juice, and some trays of regular ice cubes. Stick them in the back of your freezer and hope you never have to use them! If you get another stomach/intestinal bug, immediately, before it gets to the ” just wanna die” stage, put the juice-ice through your blender and keep it very handy. Do the same with the water-ice cubes. Slowly, but constantly take very, very small amounts of both, even when you don’t want to. Monitor your sugar levels more often than you normally would. It works. A few years after the hospital trip a similar episode hit and my friend’s trick kept me home and back to life within 24 hours.
* Bad, miserably, yucky head cold: This one isn’t quite as difficult a challenge, except when your throat is raw and, your head aches, and the passages you are supposed to breathe through are solid, who in their right mind wants to eat, drink, check their blood sugar? The first thing I can say about this scenario is——- STAY HOME!!! It is just plain stupid to think it’s just a cold and you can manage. I don’t care if you are a Diabetic or not, STAY HOME! If you are a Diabetic, pay attention to your glucose and hydration level. There’s an old saying, true or not, : ” feed a cold, starve a fever”. I have no clue if there is any validity to that, but if you believe it, please do not forget you have diabetes. Aimlessly, mindlessly chowing down on whatever looks appetizing can get us Diabetics in a world of trouble. Check your sugar often. And drink way more water than you actually want.
At this point I am going to remind you of some things I have said before about me. I am not a Nurse, Diabetes Educator, Nutritionist, Doctor, trained Chef, etc. I am a Speech Pathologist with a lifelong passion for creating in the kitchen who is a Diabetic. I also read almost everything I can get my hands on. It’s the Winter (ie colds, flu, etc) season as well as holiday time. Tons of gatherings are Petrie dishes and germs just love that. Holiday meal leftovers abound, very often mishandled. Germs think they died and went to Heaven. Don’t become germaphobic, but pay attention. Wash hands very often. Treat leftovers with respect. Mind your calories and carbohydrates. Enjoy the holiday season!