When Outpatient Surgery Goes Wrong

Just my luck. I go into the hospital for outpatient surgery and land in the hospital for five days. Three of them in the intensive care unit.


What happened? Darned if I know. I was asleep. Or almost in a coma, as they told me. A nurse who was there told me I was fine, then I wasn’t: My blood glucose dropped to 32 mg/dl and my blood pressure dropped, although she didn’t say to what. Another nurse kept telling me I had too much carbon dioxide in my blood. I should get a copy of my records for that evening. It could make for interesting reading.

The doctor had planned to put a stent in my kidney and try to get the kidney stone out. It turns out that the stone was larger than he thought and my kidney was infected as all get-out. So I was admitted to the hospital for the night.

I remember going to the room and seeing one of those triangle things on the ceiling so people who’ve had knee or hip replacement surgery can pull themselves up. I remember eating soup and a salad my husband brought me. That’s it. The next thing I know, it was two days later and I was in ICU hooked up to all kinds of stuff.

And I couldn’t keep my glucose up. Oh, great. I still can’t keep it up. I keep lowering the basal rates on my insulin pump, I don’t bolus for food, and I still end up in the 40s and 50s a couple of hours after I eat.

I’ve dropped my basals by something like 20 units a day in the past few days. Granted, as a Type 2 I use a lot more insulin than somebody with Type 1, but that’s still a lot of insulin. (Actually, in the last couple of months, I’ve lowered my basals by more than 40 units a day.)

That must have been — or must be — one heck of an infection! I went for nearly two years of bone infections and surgeries, including an amputation, and ran HbA1cs in the 6th percentile, except for one 7.2%. In December, my HbA1C was 5.9%. When I went to the endocrinologist a couple of weeks ago, it was 7.6%!

The funny thing was, when the nurse came in with the results, he was in the process of having me lower all of my basal rates because I kept going low. “Your A1C will probably be five percent,” he’d just finished saying. HA!

Maybe next time.

For the next week, I get to present myself at the hospital every day for a dose of IV antibiotics. I can hardly wait, especially since I’m hitting the bathroom every half hour. I’m told I’ll be doing that until I get the stent out next week. Oh, and I’ll have burning and back pain. Yay.

Oh, yeah. The kidney stone is still there. What the doctor is talking about is sending me to Indianapolis to have a surgical procedure to remove the stone. That will involve more hospital time and more recuperation time.

As of now, I’ve sent my endocrinologist a note telling him what my current basal rates are and what my glucose is running and asking for his help. And he can call me any time now (she says, tapping her fingernails on the desk).

And I’m fine. As nutsy as ever. I keep remembering what one of my (many) doctors said: “Not many people walk out of ICU.” And thank the powers that be that I am one who did, who got to come home last night, and who got to get up early this morning and greet the morning while I sat on the deck drinking my coffee.

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  • Deb

    Oh my dear Jan, I am so glad you are home and drinking coffee. It will be even better when you are home and drinking coffee and that kidney stone is gone!
    There are some people for whom nothing is easy – I know because I am one of them, and obviously you are too!
    Take good care of yourself and put that all behind you. All the best. Oh, and you might need to rethink that home medical suite….

  • Linda M.

    Oh my, Jan, what a rollercoaster ride from hell you’ve been on. I think you are one of those people that if anything can go badly, it will. Just think of the “worst that can happen”–yes, it happens to you. I think the only thing that get you through is your extremely amazing GREAT attitude and sense of humor. And maybe some prayers from your fans out here. I thought I was having a bad week but now I don’t even know why. You have a way of lifting people up when you are down. I’m so glad you are out of ICU and hope you never have to go back. Hope they get the kidney stone out soon and you can cut your Dr. visits down to at least 4 a week. Will be sending up prayers and thought for your healing–hope you don’t mind. Feel better soon.

  • jim snell


    Best wishes and get well soon again and hope this all clears up.

    To me; it sounds as if you got large dose of insulin and hopefully correct type. ( not 75/25)
    If you are on pump – was hospital double dosing you?

    How did they check your Blood Glucose – dumb hand held that does not filter out alternative sugars or by lab analytical gear that is accurate?

    Do they cross check insulin doses they give and does a supervisor sign off on and cross check?

  • Mary

    What a survivor !!!!!

    I take my hat off to you, and I don’t mean the $30, 000 bid on eBay that Princess Beatrice’s hat is getting, that she was wearing at the Royal Wedding. She says the money is going to charity.

    Best wishes.


  • David Spero RN

    Jan, I don’t know how you keep such a positive attitude. You’re amazing.


  • jim snell


    God Bless and many thanks the Bell was not tolling for you and you ended up standing on the green side of the grass.

    It sounds as if some bone head needs to hsave his heart measured against the feather to see if he was being stupid.

    God Bless and Good Luck.

  • Jan

    Jim, what I got was a large dose of infection disappearing. Stress of any kind — including infection — can cause your blood glucose to go up. Take the infection away, and blood glucose goes down. Sometimes precipitously! As far as checking BGs and dosing insulin, they used their meter on me, but I also have a continuous glucose monitor and the supplies to check my own BGs. Also, when I was conscious, I either gave myself insulin or had them tell me how much they were giving.

    While I was in a near comatose state, they ran my BGs in the ~200 range. (I can check that on a line graph on my continuous glucose monitor.)


  • Diane

    Jan, I always enjoy reading your blogs. You do have an amazingly good attitude with all the health problems you’ve had. I will say some prayers for your healing. Take care and hope you are much better soon!