Friday, November 18, 2005

A stomach bug ---- we mean diabetes

Friday, November 18, 2005. (about 2 weeks after her first birthday) Emma got really sick and started throwing up, and by the end of the day she was very miserable. We remember she was tossing and turning alot for hours on end. By the afternoon the next day, we decided to take her to the after hours clinic because she hadn't improved any and had developed raspy breathing. We thought maybe we were dealing with croup, too. The after hours doctor listened to her lungs and said it probably was croup based on what we told him. She also had really bad thrush, but we assumed it was from the strong antibiotic she had been on post pneumonia. The doctor sent us home with a prescription for oral steroids. Something in Lisa's gut didn't feel right about the steroids, and luckily we didn't give any to Emma (steroids raise blood sugars uncontrollably high and she was showing signs of acute diabetes melitis). By Sunday morning we started thinking the bug had passed through her because she had stopped throwing up and wasn't thrashing around anymore. And she was finally sleeping for the first time in 2 days, so we let her sleep. After about an hour, we checked on her and noticed that the thrush was excessively bad and it was everywhere. Lisa tried waking her up and as she got closer to her she thought she smelled apple juice ("weird" she thought). Emma would not wake up. Her eyes opened a little bit, just enough for us to see that they were rolled back in her head and she was not responsive at all. We knew this was something more serious and immediately headed for the emergency room. When we got there, triage (emergency room check-in) took one look at her and rushed us to the back. (Just a side note, any time medical staff seem rushed and they give you all their attention, that is usually not a good sign....) Doctors came in and ordered a bunch of tests and tried to start an IV. Emma's little body was so dehydrated, though, that her blood vessels had all but collapsed and were bone dry so they had a really hard time to get an IV line in. We started getting really upset at this point, because she seemed like she had plenty of wet diapers all weekend (we had been monitoring because of the vomiting), but now they were telling us that she was dehydrated. Lisa kept saying to them "none of this makes any sense!" By some miracle, a nurse that had come down from the pediatric floor (PEDS) was able to get an IV line started on Emma in her foot. Shortly after, the preliminary results from the blood tests came back and the doctor said she probably had diabetes. Everything started making more sense at that point after they explained diabetes a little bit, but Emma's condition was extremely critical. Her PH level was extremely off (very dangerous) and her BG (blood glucose or blood sugar) was so high they had to dilute it to run it through the machine again. Just a few minutes before they admitted her to the hospital, the doctor came in and said IT, "it's official, she's a diabetic." Her blood glucose came in at a whopping 1300, the average person is diagnosed with a blood glucose of 300-400. It was one of the highest they had ever seen at that hospital. Needless to say, she was very, very sick.


Emma was also diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis (a life-threatening complication in patients with untreated chronic high blood glucose). Basically, she was in a diabetic coma. She had high blood glucose, high levels of ketones, and acidosis (they said it was like she had acetone running through her veins, that explains the thrashing around....). The croupy breathing was explained to us as being Kussmaul breathing, a complication of severe acidosis. Emma was critical for several days before she started turning the corner. It was a huge miracle for us to watch her come back to life, AGAIN!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The missed signs

In hindsight, it's easy to see that all the main warning signs for type 1 diabetes were there, we simply didn't know them. It started with her leaking out of her diaper, we just thought she needed a bigger size. She ate A LOT. We thought we were really lucky to have such a good eater because a lot of children with Down syndrome have feeding issues due to sensory problems. We celebrated the fact that she ate so much. All of these started maybe a month before she was diagnosed, but after the pneumonia we probably noticed them the most but didn't think much of it. So, beware, it can set in really fast.

We try not to blame ourselves anymore, we're just now determined to tell people Emma's story in an effort to help even just 1 family or person not get to the point Emma did. Emma was not a likely candidate, she was barely 1 year old, and with all of our focus on Down syndrome and her other complications it's easy to see how we could miss it.

Friday, November 4, 2005

The 'P' word

Pneumonia, we're not at all fans if you were wondering. The morning after Emma's crappy first birthday, she woke up with a fever of 103. She was lethargic (limp and really weak). We called Primary Children's Medical Center (PCMC), following post-surgery instructions, and they wanted her to come back in immediately. After testing and x-rays, she was diagnosed with pneumonia, probably a complication from her surgery the previous day. She was really sick and had to stay in the hospital that night. During the night, the alarms on her oxygen monitors kept going off. The nurse thought it could be a sign of sleep apnea, because Emma's oxygen levels only dropped when she was asleep. We were able to go home the next day, but not without oxygen for when she sleeps and a heavy duty antibiotic (that gave her thrush).

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Happy Birthday! (I mean Crappy Birthday)

Due to scheduling difficulties at the hospital, Emma had ear tubes put in on her first birthday (we know, we didn't think she would care, but it was hard on us). It was supposed to be a quick, in-and-out process and we would be home in a couple hours to throw a birthday party still, no big deal. Wrong!!! We were reminded again that we should plan for the unexpected with Emma. She didn't come out of the anesthesia very well, so she was observed in recovery for a long time. So, we tried to have a party for her in the recovery room that afternoon.

She loved her baby doll we gave her.

Soon after, Emma started running a fever, which meant we couldn't go home. Aaaarrrrggghhh!!! After a few more hours her fever subsided (thank you Motrin) and we were set free. Off to her party...

She still had fun....