My roommate, that stupid bitch, fucking threw away my goddamn insulin when she was cleaning out the fridge.
I noticed I was out of juice for my pump on the evening of the 10th, day before Veterans Day. Okay, cool. Not a problem. I’ll just mosey on over to the fridge and get a vial of… Where the fuck is my insulin? I went on a rampage looking for my version of the Elixir of Life. It had disappeared like a fart in the wind. Holy shit, I’m dead. I asked my roommate if she had seen my meds. Of course she said no. Like anyone would admit to manslaughter.
I sat down and thought about my options. I couldn’t go to the military base to get refills because everything was shut down for Veterans Day. I decided to go to the local ER and get a prescription written up so I could get some drugs at the Rite Aid pharmacy down the street. Alex drove, I made fun of dying people, Alex joined in, and then I peed in a cup. It was a great time until shit got real (we saw some folks who had obviously received bad news and then we shut up).To make matters worse, the whole ER trip was a fucking bust because my insurance was somehow tied up and everyone was out of the office for fucking Veterans day. No way could I afford $252 for 1000 units of my drugs!
Waiting game until the 12th it is.
I didn’t eat anything all day and guzzled huge amounts of water to try to keep my glucose levels low. I skipped my classes so I could lie down and just focus on breathing. It wasn’t working. By the time early evening rolled around I could feel my blood thickening and my pulse quickening.
Some fun facts about having high blood sugar for extended periods of time:
- Blood pH drops turning blood into acid
- CO2 levels drop fucking up common bodily functions (this also contributes to lowered blood pH)
- Thickened blood can’t reach extremities and chill sets in; it can also cause blindness since the veins and arteries in the eye are extremely delicate – thick blood stretches/rips them
- Delirium and weakness set in
- Nausea and the inability to hold anything down make the whole ordeal messy
My little brother Abe stayed with me all night, watching me to make sure I didn’t die. The nausea hit me around 0400. I knew I was in full-on diabetic ketoacidosis. My electrolytes were probably way low, potassium in particular. I knew I was headed towards the hospital but I was in denial. “Jess, let me call an ambulance.” I could see the distress in Abe’s face. “Fuck no! I can make it to the pharmacy.”
Abe doesn’t have a car, so Matt drove me to the military base. I gave him my base pass and slumped into the back seat where I promptly threw up into a plastic bag Abe had shoved into my hands before I left the house. Matt’s not military and doesn’t possess proper ID to enter the installation, but the man checking ID cards took one look at me and directed us to the infirmary. “Fuck the hospital. I need the pharmacy for my meds. Look for the post exchange; it’s in there.” We drove around a bit and found the building. I stumbled out of Matt’s car and vomited on the grass before entering. I slowly walked to the pharmacy. The doors were locked. They’d open at 0900. It was 0830. I lost hope. I laid down on a bench and closed my eyes. I could feel myself losing consciousness. Matt was saying something about calling an emergency number that had been posted next to the hours of operation.
I remember waking up on the bench to a woman asking me a bunch of stupid questions. “What’s your name?” “How long have you been without insulin?” “Can you hear me?” I wanted to punch her in the face so I could sleep. She checked my blood sugar. “That’s really high. Put her on a stretcher and take her to Laurel Regional Hospital.”
I don’t remember the ambulance ride too much. I recall the medic handing me these really weird cylindrical, plastic bags to throw up in. He said I was a good patient because I told him every time I was feeling nauseous. They carted me into the ER and rolled me onto a bed. Then they turned me into a pin cushion trying to find IV sites on my hands and arms. I don’t know how long I stayed in that room, but Matt was with me a long time. He held my hand and brushed my hair out of my face. People kept asking if he was my boyfriend or “Mr. FIzz.” That made me giggle on the inside. No way would I ask any husband of mine to take my last name.
Matt left for school and work around 1330, and that’s when shit got bad. The nurses had originally hooked up to a saline and insulin drip. When Matt left, they decided to hook me up to a bag of dextrose (sugar water)… and then they let my insulin IV run out. My blood sugar climbed back to about 500. I started to vomit uncontrollably again. I told the nurse the dextrose was killing me and that they needed to stop treatment. They said “doctor’s orders; leave it in.” I ripped out the IV (I have a nice swollen hand from that move). And then they left me there. No saline, no insulin. Nothing. They wouldn’t even let me drink any water due to the excessive vomiting.
At some point, they admitted me to the critical care unit upstairs. They stripped me of all my clothing and gave me a sponge bath. Then they wrapped me up in an open-back dress. I was so glad none of my friends were there to witness this huge blow to my dignity. I laid back on my new bed… then sprang back up to dry heave into a plastic bucket. My ICU nurse, Rhonda, said, “Lemme getcha somethin’ for that nausea.” I liked her already.
I had about four nurses bustling about me for a good 20 minutes. They attached leads to my chest, checked my glucose levels (still in the upper 400s), hooked up two saline bags, an insulin drip, and a potassium drip to my catheters. They also attached three more IVs: one in my left hand (I had ripped this one out earlier in the ER), one in my right arm, and one in the left side of my neck. I was severely dehydrated so my veins were super tiny and hard to find… and they wound up slashing THROUGH my veins instead of threading a catheter into them. Lovely purple bruises everywhere.
I started to feel better except for the extreme thirst. Rhonda would give me an ice chip every hour or so, but it was more of a tease than anything. The fluids made me feel more coherent, and the staff nearly doubled the amount of insulin the emergency room cunts had administered. The ER nurses and docs said the maximum amount of insulin they could give me was 6 units per hour; the ICU was giving me 10 units per hour… without the added side of sugar water. I SWEAR I’M GONNA REAM SOME ASS LATER! THOSE ER FUCKS ALMOST KILLED ME! Anyway…
Oh, and going to the bathroom in the ICU was embarrassing as shit. Since I couldn’t walk very far, they brought in this walker-looking thing that had a toilet seat and plastic bucket underneath: a high-tech bed pan. And then the nurses watched me pee. SERIOUSLY?! I’m so glad Matt, Alex, and Abe weren’t there. Even if I could walk to the “bathroom” the commode was out in the open; I could see it from my bed. …I’d rather cauterize my vagina over a campfire than use that toilet in front of the boys.
Rhonda was replaced by another nurse named Jalika at 0800. She was nice too. She let me know what was going on with my blood work and joked around with me even though I was pretty unresponsive. I wanted to let her know I thought she was funny, but it took a lot of effort to move. She even got me a phone charger so I could check out what was going on in the outside world. Twenty-three missed calls from my parents, that’s what was going on. Fuck. I had to text my mother everything that had happened to me because my throat was so raw from the bile and blood I had hacked up. Apparently mother dearest had called my brother, sorority sister, and campus police in her efforts to find me. Fuck AGAIN!
Around 1000 Alex came in to visit me. I didn’t even realize he had entered the room because he’s so quiet and skinny like a shadow. I wanted to chat with him because I had missed him, but talking was still difficult. Fortunately he’s good at picking up social cues, so he slept while I dozed. And that’s pretty much how things went until they discharged me (aside from the nurse giving me horse pill-sized antibiotics because my white blood count was at 22,000). There was also a patient that had been in a coma for 14 days after overdosing, and as soon as he woke up he said, “I’m going to New York.” He probably left to get more drugs; I like the man already.
Jalika gave me some papers to sign and a sheet of paper that pretty much says, “Jess nearly died; let her play hookie from school, damn it!” They discharged me into Alex’s care with instructions like “rest a lot” and “eat a light meal.” Fuck that; I almost died.
“Bruh, I haven’t eaten in, like, two days. I want McDonald’s.”
Bonus Round: I got a nice text from Michael.