Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Hospital "Holiday"

When Steve and I went to sleep on Sunday night, we thought the rugged weekend was behind us. Not so fast!

Steve awoke, stating, "I'm sweating; check my blood sugar!"

His suspicions were correct; his blood sugar was only 31! His body was profoundly diaphoretic. I've seen Steve's glucose dip as low as 30. And I had one patient in the E.R. who had a blood sugar of only 8! That patient was unconscious. I didn't want to find out how low Steve's blood sugar could drop.

It wasn't clear to me exactly what was happening. We knew we were using high amounts of sugar in Steve's dialysate solution - so that could have accounted for high sugars he had off and on through the weekend. And that, of course prompted our use of more insulin. Had we overshot, giving him more insulin than necessary? Possibly so, though the pattern was inconsistent.

Arriving in the E.R., Steve looked sick. His responsiveness waxed and waned. At one point, he simply didn't answer our questions. A couple of slugs of IV Dextrose solved that immediately, with Steve returning to lucidity.

While Steve's medical fragility was clear, his capacity for resilience was also demonstrated once again.

And, once again, I felt immensely relieved to hand Steve off to someone else to be responsible! I remember feeling that way three years ago in the same Emergency Room. Steve had just been diagnosed with Acute-on-Chronic Renal Failure. His creatinine rocketed up from his abnormal 4 to a startling 10 in only two weeks. He looked pale, twitchy, and mentally loopy.

I was so relieved to have someone else take the responsibility then, as I was at 3 a.m. Monday morning.

Over the day, Steve looked better. Our mysteries were not all solved; many of my questions remained unanswered. But that sick-in-the-pit-of-the-stomach sense of maybe losing him passed once again. Will it return? Of course. I'm optimistic, but not naive. This is not a pleasure trip. This is real life, and real love.

By the way, Steve and I just celebrated our third wedding anniversary. We recognize the significance of this milestone, and, yes, it seems like we've been partners for many more years than seven!

Happy Anniversary, Stephen...my "raisin" (as in "raison d'etre")! I love you with all my heart.

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD

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