Traverse City Record-Eagle

Generation Why

April 2, 2012

Fearing for a life

Have you ever woken up at 2 a.m. thinking you might lose a loved one?

I live with a sister who has Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when your pancreas doesn't produce insulin. She was diagnosed Jan. 23, 2004, five days before she turned 6. She was shaky all the time and wouldn't eat anything. My parents took her to urgent care and they transfered her to the hospital. Her glucose level was over 800.

On Jan. 26, 2012, she was on her way to the hospital at 5 a.m. I woke with her screaming my name at 2 in the morning. She was throwing up all morning without anything in her stomach. We tried giving her water and she couldn't even hold that down. Her blood sugar was already over 600. Her entire body ached and she was very moody, so my parents took her to the emergency room. They gave her an IV to get fluids in her because she was very dehydrated. After the IV, she was finally eating and keeping in her food.

What caused this was high ketones in her urine.

Ketones are metabolic end-products of fatty acid metabolism. Another way they are produced is when you lose weight or if there isn't enough insulin. Insulin helps your body use sugar for energy. Without enough insulin sugar builds up in the blood, which causes high glucose levels. Your body starts to break down fat instead of carbs or sugar. When that happens, ketones form in the blood and spill into the urine.

To see where your ketones are, you urinate on a stick and the stick changes colors; you then compare it to the possible levels. It's normal when the test is negative. My sister's test was greater than 80 mg/dL. Her ketones being so high caused all her symptoms.

I went to school that day because I was too afraid to stay alone. I didn't know what was wrong and there was nothing I could do to help her. I am enrolled at the Career-Tech Center for allied health. My work experience is at Munson Medical Center. I was not even allowed to go on the floor where my sister was. After 12 hours in the hospital, she was allowed to go home. In the hospital they had an IV in her and finally got her to eat three meals. She was eating, drinking and doing perfectly fine.

When she got home, I was expecting her to be sleepy or still a little sick. She walked in the door with a big smile on her face, acting like nothing ever happened. When she got home, her ketones were still high. It took until 6 p.m. the next day.

I was shocked because, being a medical student, I didn't know that could happen. My sister is my best friend and all I pray for her is to have a long, healthy life. I was so afraid I would lose the most important person to me.

Stephanie Eisenhauer is a senior at Kingsley High School.

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