Diabetes Self-Management Blog

“I didn’t think you’d be home from the hospital, so I didn’t plan on coming,” said the woman who keeps the health department from declaring my house a disaster area.

“Well,” I responded, “as long as I was out of it, they were fine having me in the hospital. Then I woke up and started talking back and they said: ‘That’s it! She’s outta here!’”

And Lori did come to clean. Just a lot later than she normally does. But that’ll teach her to make assumptions about my ability to nag my way out of places I don’t want to be.

In my last blog entry, I said I’d like to see my records for the night of May 12 — the night I ended up in the intensive care unit (ICU) following what was to be an outpatient procedure — adding that it could make interesting reading. So I went to the hospital’s Medical Records Department and asked for my records covering May 12–14. The records contained some interesting reading, but not necessarily for that time period.

You see, they gave me all of my records for the past year. There’s a lot of reading. In fact, I haven’t slogged through it all yet, but so far I’ve found that:

• I’m a waitress. Well, I did try that once, but lasted less than one week. As it turns out, I don’t like people giving me orders. Being a newspaper reporter was much better, believe me.

(I tried fast food once, too. That ended when I sold a lady a bag full of money. “I thought it was the hamburger she ordered,” I told the manager — a man named “Tiny,” who was anything but. Turns out he put the money from the registers in a bag because “nobody knows what’s in there.”

“It works!” I told him.)

• I’m an “uncontrolled Type 2 diabetic.” With an HbA1c of 6.7%, which is the only result they had, from a stay in the hospital last spring, I don’t know what is considered to be “uncontrolled,” but I doubt it’s in the 6th percentile. Maybe somewhere in that pile of paper I got from Medical Records is an HbA1c taken this time that was high. (Duh. At 7.6%, my last one even shocked my endocrinologist. But kidney infections and all that goes with them will do that. It wasn’t exactly because I was sitting around eating bon-bons.) But the note also said there was no more-recent HbA1c result available.

• My weight and appetite, the records claim, haven’t changed. In reality, I’ve lost 44 pounds. I’d say if they can find an HbA1c from last March, they could find my weight, too, but whatever. And I’m not hungry at all. Haven’t been for months.

• There’s a notation saying, “patient admits to having been out of town.” That was from last March. I have no idea what “admits” means in this case. Did I do something wrong by spending a weekend in Chicago — about three hours from where I live? I got sick while there, pulled Sandy out of the meeting she was attending, and told her I needed to go home because I didn’t feel well, so we returned early. Do I have to stay within my city’s limits for the rest of my life so I’ll never have to “admit” to having been out of town again? Sure would put the kibosh on my Panama Canal cruise next year.

Enough of that, but it does make me wonder what else is screwy in those records. Things that could be important, that is.

About what happened: My temperature soared and my blood glucose, blood pressure, and oxygen levels plummeted. According to one doctor, I had sepsis. According to another, I had severe sepsis. A system that rates a person’s chances of mortality had me with a ~40% chance of dying (or, as I prefer to think of it, a ~60% chance of living). Since I felt perfectly well when I “woke up” from the “almost coma” I was in, I hadn’t a clue of how sick I’d been and couldn’t understand why I was in ICU. I guess I just recover fast.

The experience did sap some of my strength and it took me several days to be able to easily transfer from my scooter to chairs, beds, and such. It sometimes took me 10 or more tries to get from one place to another. I returned to “normal” on Sunday or so. It doesn’t make me look forward to the next procedure which — so far — will involve an incision in my back to remove the stone from my kidney, a hospital stay of about one week, and four to six weeks recuperation after that. How will an incision affect my ability to move around? I guess I’ll find out if that’s the procedure it turns out to be.

My endocrinologist, bless his heart, worked out my basal rates for me, so my glucose is back to normal. I learned how to adjust insulin while I was on injections and, for some reason, never have been able to make adjustments that easily on an insulin pump.

After trying for a bit, I e-mailed my numbers (fasting, premeal, postprandial), carbohydrates ingested, times, and what I’d eaten to him, and he sent back changes. A call from his nurse yesterday asked me to make a couple more minor tweaks and there I am! I’m blessed to have a knowledgeable doctor.

OK. One more experience under my belt, and not one I’m anxious to repeat. I think I came out of it relatively easy because I do keep my Type 2 diabetes under control to the best of my abilities. It isn’t always easy, but well worth it. Who knows? It may have been a factor in helping me survive. It certainly didn’t hurt.

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Comments
  1. As a retired health care provider, your posts sometimes put me a little on the defensive, but I try to be open minded. And first I want to say I’m sorry you were the victim of sepsis and very glad you have had a positive outcome. You are correct about the high mortality it can carry.
    Just wanted to point out that “admits to” in a medical record means you acknowledged something when asked about it, rather than it being offered or obvious in the history. Sometimes having been away from your usual living area proves significant in making a diagnosis so it is a common question and comment that is not meant to be judgmental. Getting your history wrong on occupation is fairly common too I’m afraid and sometimes that would be more significant. Who knows how they missed that your wt and appetite have changed. That is why I always had to take copious notes and not try to remember all that history to chart later. I wish you the best and hope your health problems stabilize soon. Sometimes people try to do everything right and bad things still happen to them. Not fair at all!!

    Posted by BK CDE |
  2. Thanks for the explanation, BK. I was hoping somebody would enlighten me.

    My problem with seeing stupid mistakes is that it makes me wonder what else the person got wrong. If they get something as simple as my occupation wrong (and why is my occupation important unless I’m in a dangerous job?), did they err with something vital, such as my drug allergies?

    These health problems HAVE to quit! Right now I have a stent in my kidney, which makes me feel as if I have a UTI and, truthfully, it’s about to become the last straw. I honestly can’t take much more.

    Jan Chait

    Posted by Jan |
  3. Jan: Sorry to hear about all the C * * * you are going through — it ain’t fun at all.

    My favorite notation in med records: NON-COMPLIANT –
    whether I have been or whenever I have asked what appear to be too many questions or comment about other seeming “things-absurb”.

    When 3-4 people ask the same questions before any procedure, one does have to wonder where the information goes . . . enough said!

    Keep your eyes and ears open wonderful woman. Follow your wonderful spirit — it will take care of you.

    Posted by KTaylor556 |
  4. Jan, sorry about all the health issues you’ve had recently. You always have a good and positive attitude; don’t give up now! The stent will be out soon, and then hopefully, you won’t have any more problems. Sending prayers up for you. Take care.
    Diane

    Posted by Diane |

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