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Delay in Diagnosis Results in Coma

Doris' Blog
By: dorisjdickson

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Posted: Feb 15, 2009 13:22
  • 1 Comment.
  • Delay in Diagnosis Results in Coma

    I found out a former coworker from a software company here in Massachusetts recently spent four days in a coma.  The only information I have so far is that he had been very sick and ended up in a coma due to ketoacidosis and, therefore, the cause is a delayed diabetes diagnosis. 


    He is about 50 years old and a tad hefty.  He is a very intelligent technical person but apparently had no reason to suspect diabetes.  I took from the person who told me that there is concern about the future of his technical adeptness due to the days he spent in a coma.  He has not returned to work yet. 


    I have put out the word that if he wants help I will be there.  It is the least I can do.  It is the least any experienced healthy diabetic can do – to offer of their time, support, and knowledge. 


    I was very fortunate.  I did not end up in a coma.  My parents, though they had no clue what was wrong, took me to an emergency room before I passed out.  There was no concern about my recovery once the doctors made the diagnosis.  I never passed out and my alertness rose inordinately upon initiation of insulin and a saline IV.  I was very, very fortunate and have always been appreciative.


    In this day of diabetes consciousness, I am upset that such a delayed diabetes diagnosis occurred and resulted in four days in a coma.  If this disease is such an epidemic, how does this happen?  How is the writing not on the wall?  How do the symptoms not stand out like a sore thumb?


    When blood sugar is so high that it results in a coma, the symptoms are unmistakable.  Although some of the symptoms are flu like, as my younger sister put it, my room smelled like death!  That is NOT the flu.  No doctor should miss it either – the “fruity” smell is gross.  The white tongue is more than obvious.  The weight loss is stunning.  The urination frequency and dehydration are nothing less than blatant. 


    So apparently, diabetes symptom awareness is NOT getting out there.  Where are the old commercials of the symptoms of diabetes?  I knew what I had long before my parents did due to a simple commercial back in 1976. 


    The commercials should NOT just list type 2 symptoms either.  Type 1 counts too.  I do not care if type 2 accounts for 94% of the diagnoses and of the money spent.  Type 1 is much more sudden and much more immediately deadly.  As I mentioned, the symptoms stand out like a sore thumb IF people know what they are.  Type 1 symptoms are much less subtle and can result in ketoacidosis in a matter of a few days.  So … please writers of PSAs (public service announcements), remember type 1 exists too.


    Doris J. Dickson





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  • By: FatCatAnna: Feb, 18, 2009 11:58 AM

    That is so sad - in this time of medical discovery - that your friend was not diagnosed earlier with diabetes causing him to go into a coma.  Diabetes - whether it be Type 1 or 2 - is still something that seems to be abit low in the totem pole for medical staff and others to recognise that SOMETHING IS WRONG!!!  It's a good thing he was not thought of as being under the influence or on drugs by police (this has happened - not to me - but a friend of mine - very scary episode for her). He couldn't have ended up in a worse case scenario.

    I myself was in a coma - 3 days - at the age of 14.  Maybe because I was younger when this happened - the effects of my own stupidity I admit it - trying to be "normal" - luckily did not effect me intellectually.  Hopefully your friend will come out of this - and knowing that he has you to turn to will be even better.

    Wish him the best next time you visit him Doris.


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