In my last blog post, I shared about my hunch that Luke had Type 1 Diabetes, based on his symptoms. I was so fortunate to have not only heard the signs and symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes, but to have tucked them away in one of the cabinets of my brain.
What I didn’t know was that if Type 1 Diabetes is left untreated, there could be serious consequences, including coma and death.
When you have Type 1, your pancreas stops the production of insulin completely. The body, with a normal-functioning pancreas, uses insulin to break down carbohydrates to use for energy. A type 1 diabetic is unable to break down the carbs to use for energy because there is no insulin. Instead, a type 1 diabetic breaks down fat for energy, leaving ketones in the blood system. These ketones build up and start poisoning the body. If left untreated, the ketones continue building up and result in diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA.
DKA can happen at different rates. Luke was in full-blown DKA just a week after I started noticing symptoms. His blood sugar was 616 when we went to the ER. Some people never reach DKA, even with blood sugars higher than 616.
Luke, and other people with T1D, can help to avoid experiencing DKA again by maintaining a blood sugar level with in the range given to them by their endocrinologist. Luke’s range is 70-150. If/when he does go above range, he needs to check his ketones. There are two ways to check ketones- a quick urine test using ketone strips or by using a blood ketone meter. Right now, we only have the urine tests. Once Luke is completely out of honeymoon, I’d like to get a blood ketone meter so it’s easier for him to test for ketones in school, without having to leave the classroom.
He hasn’t had any ketones since his hospital stay almost a year ago when he was diagnosed. I hope and pray he never does again. However, it’s always good to be prepared.