Cactus521

Sharing a personal cautionary tale

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I wanted to share what happened to me since I know some are real pilots here and for members in general, since many here are close to my age.  On Sunday I was going home from the market, when I collapsed in the parking lot while walking home.  I had become disoriented and my legs just quit on me, I fell face first onto the concrete, spraining my arm and receiving multiple lacerations on my legs, arms, and face.  Some people leaving a nearby lounge where they were having a concert came to my aid, three good Samaritans.  They made me stay where I was on the ground (I could no longer walk anyway) and they called 911.  When 911 arrived they asked me if I was diabetic and when I told them yes, they tested my blood sugar.  It was over 1000.  Crept up on me, just like that.  I was taken by ambulance to the hospital and put in the Intensive Care Unit.  The hospital said they had never seen anyone with blood sugar that high and they immediately put me on insulin and morphine for the pain.  I almost died from not monitoring my blood sugar like a diabetic should.

With their expert treatment they got me under control and walking again, and I was released today although still on morphine as of this morning.  I do tend to recover quickly from trauma.

I say this now, embarrassing as it is, to reiterate that diabetes is "the silent killer".  My guardian angels, both in the parking lot that day and up above, saved my life.  I have been hospitalized once before when my blood sugar was only 300 but this was something altogether more serious.  I know most pilots have to take a physical but light sport pilots, as I once was, don't have to.  Had I been in the air, I could have hurt someone by my carelessness with my own health.  All the warning signs were there for me.  I lost 40 pounds since June, I had excessive thirst since I came home from Europe, and after meals with heavy carbs I felt off kilter.  I just had such a large meal last week and I think that's what put me on the spiral down to Sunday's crisis.  The hospital staff was extremely worried, so they ultrasounded my heart and neck arteries, gave me a cranial CAT scan and Xrayed my lungs.  After all that I went unconcious for about twelve hours, on the verge of a coma.

The hospital did not want to release me, in part because of the morphine, but I told them to skip a dose so I could get home.

My diabetes, once controlled by Metformin, will now require insulin shots in my stomach for the rest of my life.  Better than being dead.

The good news is my heart is healthy, no blockages, my lungs are good, no concussion in spite of hitting my head, and my blood pressure is very low for a 56 year old man, about 125/75.

So for those who fly out there, please take care of yourselves.  Same holds true for those of you who just sim.  Anyway, I was treated well in a very good hospital, and I was at least able to make the nurses laugh before the stomach injections.  There were people there sicker than I was, if that is possible, and I had them in my prayers.

With what happened in Vegas on the same day I was in critical condition, I have to commend the civilians who came to my aid and those who came to aid those in Vegas.  They could have written me off as some drunk or transient.  I have to commend the first responders who rushed me by ambulance to the hospital and who knew right away I was in diabetic shock, and I have to commend Abrazo Central hospital in Phoenix for the care they gave me--I felt like I was in a luxury hotel rather than a hospital.  I was saddened when I heard what happened in Las Vegas, and I had a terrible premonition that day that something bad was going to happen.  I've had those all my life--the morning Mt. St. Helens exploded I told my parents I had a dream that it had exploded.  Two hours later it did.  When my aunt passed away, the night before I dreamt I had to escort my father to Chicago.  I was on a plane with him to her funeral the next day.  It's as if she somehow told me he needed me.

My condition is minor compared to those still recovering in Vegas and I wanted to close this by saying my thoughts and prayers are with those in Vegas recovering from that horrible tragedy.

John

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Very glad someone noticed you and that medical help was able to stabilize you. Hard way to learn or be reminded of a valuable lesson but fortunately It ended well. Wish you the best with your recovery.

 

 

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Glad to hear you have recovered and are doing well, John. Health issues are usually brought violently to the forefront when something like this happens to us and that is when we really start paying attention to ourselves, which should not be the case. Our health is primarily our responsibility and we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to always be vigilant and aware.

I too, learned about this the hard way (not diabetes but a different issue). All is good now but it certainly made me aware of our fragility and how transient we are on this earth.

Stay well. 

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Glad you are on the mend, sounds like a scary episode.

Funnily enough I only found out for sure about whether I was at risk of diabetes when I did a first aid course earlier this year and the woman presenting it was a diabetic, so she offered to test everyone attending and did so. That's when I found out I was okay, but it really would not have occurred to me to get that checked had it not for me doing that first aid course.

Ironically, within the space of five days after doing that first aid course (which was a renewal of the certification after having done it three years previously) I had cause to use the skills from it twice, I fixed someone up who'd cut their arm badly whilst changing a light fitting, and then two days after that I gave someone CPR and artificial respiration after they'd had an electric shock, who fortunately came back, which I was amazed at, so I must have been doing something right lol.

If anyone gets the chance to do a first aid course, I'd recommend it, you could literally save someone's life, like I did, which is cool.

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Thanks for sharing, John. Take care of yourself so we can continue to enjoy your posts and screenshots.

John

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33 minutes ago, speedyTC said:

Glad to hear you have recovered and are doing well, John. Health issues are usually brought violently to the forefront when something like this happens to us and that is when we really start paying attention to ourselves, which should not be the case. Our health is primarily our responsibility and we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to always be vigilant and aware.

I too, learned about this the hard way (not diabetes but a different issue). All is good now but it certainly made me aware of our fragility and how transient we are on this earth.

Stay well. 

Thank you,

It's funny I've only been seriously hospitalized twice before, once for appendicitis and once for measles encephalitis (where I was put in quarantine, yikes!).  But that was over 40 years ago.  I was closer to death this time than I ever was but I did not feel fear--why?

From the moment the first responders took me into their hands I just knew I was going to recover quickly, I felt like I was in the arms of angels.  Part of it is also age, you tend to have less fear.  But I just felt I was in extremely professional hands that the Phoenix Fire Dept. is.  So as I lapsed in and out of consciousness I felt this warm contentment come over me, that I was in a very safe place.

Then it became surreal as reports started coming in to the hospital about Las Vegas which happened about eight hours after I was admitted, being a hospital the staff went into shock.  I felt like I myself had been shot, I would feel multiple waves of pain hitting my body around that time, and I've always been empathetic towards those things.  I wanted to give blood but I obviously was in no condition to do so, but I know other Phoenicians (as we call ourselves) were helping.

In the following days after the ICU I just could not watch the TV anymore.  I was originally a hotelier before becoming a computer engineer and I was just in shock.  So many of my former colleagues worked the strip in Vegas and in Reno.  I installed the computer network at the Rio Suites there, and at the Best Western Hotel just off of McCarran airport. So on top of being very ill in the hospital I was thunderstruck with the news of what had happened.  I'll leave it there.

John

 

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Scary! Glad that you're ok now. Be sure to pay more attention to your diabetic condition from now on!

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9 minutes ago, Murmur said:

Scary! Glad that you're ok now. Be sure to pay more attention to your diabetic condition from now on!

Yes, I will.

And sadly I will never be able to take the controls of a real aircraft again, too much risk, as I said, my collapse was so sudden.  My ex-wife commended me for not driving that day, we spoke over the phone yesterday when I told her what happened, I still stay on good terms with her, she's my health consultant.  I however will sim AGAIN!         lol

I should add, this last month, I lost my old computer.   Bought a completely new one, was able to throw XPlane and P3d on it and fly in a state of what I call sim nirvana.  It was a real lucky choice, my new system, as some people with something almost exactly similar have negative results.  I have never understood why although I care.  So at least I have something to keep me occupied during my recovery, and my passion for simming has really increased, it is just wonderful entertainment and camaraderie here in the forums.

John

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It's always heartwarming to hear that there are good people out there who will come to our aid, particularly in what seems like a very troubled and hardened world these days. Great to hear you're making a good recovery and also good to hear you have a nice new computer with a fresh install of your sims to keep you busy as you recouperate! 

Bill

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There are many good Samaritans here and around the world and it was good that there were three near you to provide assistance for your health issue.  Hope this is a lesson learned and it won't happen again. 

You are right about the attack on innocent civilians in Las Vegas.  There were a lot of heros that night and we are now finding that it could have been worse if an unarmed security guard at the hotel had not found the room soon after the shootings began and informed authorities. 

Stay well!

Best regards,

Jim

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My mom was diabetic with a similar story.  Glad you are recovering well.

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Above all, you're back in shape !  Keep it that way - nowadays medications are extremely effective for diabetes.

Gardian Angels are always around, but most of the time we don't notice them...

Simming will also help - I recur to simming or RL flying whenever I have to recover from some stressful period / episode in my life.

All of the Best John !

 

 

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Thanks John,

As you say, a lot of us about the same age and activity need to keep an eye on ourselves.

Glad you made it back from the brink as it were.

 

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I'm glad to read of your ongoing recovery. As a severe diabetic myself I am very much aware of the dangers of hyperglycemia!  For that matter, learn the symptoms of hypoglycemia as well. Both extremes are equally dangerous. It was only seven years ago that I found out that I was diabetic and since then have really educated myself.

I drove myself to the VA Clinic in Crown Point, Indiana, which is about a thirty mile trip, and when I was finally seen, reported to my assigned nurse practitioner that I was feeling increasingly lethargic, my mouth felt as though a herd of camels had camped out overnight, and my breath was "fruity smelling."

She immediately ordered blood work from the lab STAT and when it was reported my blood sugar level was over six-hundred she immediately asked how I'd gotten to the clinic. When I told her I drove myself, she told be point-blank that I would not be driving myself home! I had to call a friend to come there and drive me home.

Over the next few months she managed to get my diabetes under control through both drugs and diet. I now take 3x850mg Metformin, 2x10mg Glyburide throughout the day, and 42 units of NPH insulin every evening just after dinner. This form of insulin is "slow release" which is why I take it after dinner. The only thing I truly don't care for is having to check my sugar levels three times each day (just now at noon it's 137). Now though my thumbs have become pretty much numb to the pin-pricks, so it's not so bad any longer.

Part of my ongoing regimen includes walking as much as possible. Where she suggested walking around the block, since I live alone and would have no one to accompany me, I've settled on going to the grocery stores and home improvement centers for my walks. At least there I have a buggy to hold onto, and plenty of other folks around to help me should I stumble or fall. My knees have a bad habit of deciding to 'fail' on me at unpredictable times.

You mentioned that you will have to take insulin injections now. Just as a tip, if you have even a slight "roll of fat" use that as an injection sight as it will have the fewest nerve endings to cause pain. I rarely find a nerve there, so seldom ever feel the needle. :biggrin:

Once again, I'm delighted to learn you are recovering. Take care of yourself my friend; after all, there's only one of you!

EDIT: Just for the record, I'll be sixty-nine next January, so I've got a few more miles on my odometer...

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John, take care of your self for the rest of us. You're a great resource to our community as well as to you're family I'm sure.  

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18 minutes ago, n4gix said:

EDIT: Just for the record, I'll be sixty-nine next January, so I've got a few more miles on my odometer...

LOL....

Thanks for your advice.  The pharmacist told me he would be surprised if I need to take much insulin once the Metformin and the other drug you mentioned get my blood sugar under control.  I know it's still low because the symptoms I had just prior to all this, the thirst, the fatigue etc... were not present on my first day home from the hospital.   On average in the hospital they gave me 2-4 units but I was eating more carbs there.  At home I can control my diet a bit better, I am big on salads, deli meats w/o bread, and so on.

I kept dreaming last night that I was in the hospital being visited by nurses.....  LOL, makes me wonder how long before those dreams go away. 

John

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19 minutes ago, Cactus521 said:

....I kept dreaming last night that I was in the hospital being visited by nurses.....  LOL,....

Too much information, John! LOL! Oh, you meant real nurses... :biggrin: Thanks for sharing and take care.

None of us should drive/ride/fly faster than our guardian angel can fly!:cool:

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20 hours ago, Cactus521 said:

John

John,

I'm glad you're doing ok. That's scary.

Two years ago 57 years of age I had a transient ischemic attack (mild stroke) called 911. I was alone at the time. Lost control of my eye movements that left me unable to walk without falling down (not a symptom of a stroke that I was aware of) just before heading to work. Thank God It didn't happen while driving. Anyway I spent 10 days in hospital and had every test and scans known to medicine. Doctors discovered I have Congestive Heart Failure. Never did I have chest pains. I was not overweigh but lost 10 lbs. in one week due to fluid retention (too much salt in diet). Three clogged arteries 100%, 80% & 60%, enlarged heart, arterial fibrillation, arrhythmias. I now have 3 stents and an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and on a low sodium diet and take 8 pills a day. My family history is my father had heart disease, (3 bypasses). Thing is I was physically active my whole life 1000's of miles bicycling. I asked the doctor what gives? He said heredity takes precedence over everything else no matter how active you are.

My advice is if you ever start feeling strange don't hesitate to get help immediately.

So, take good care of yourselves my friends.

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22 minutes ago, bills511 said:

John,

I'm glad you're doing ok. That's scary.

Two years ago 57 years of age I had a transient ischemic attack (mild stroke) called 911. I was alone at the time. Lost control of my eye movements that left me unable to walk without falling down (not a symptom of a stroke that I was aware of) just before heading to work. Thank God It didn't happen while driving. Anyway I spent 10 days in hospital and had every test and scans known to medicine. Doctors discovered I have Congestive Heart Failure. Never did I have chest pains. I was not overweigh but lost 10 lbs. in one week due to fluid retention (too much salt in diet). Three clogged arteries 100%, 80% & 60%, enlarged heart, arterial fibrillation, arrhythmias. I now have 3 stents and an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and on a low sodium diet and take 8 pills a day. My family history is my father had heart disease, (3 bypasses). Thing is I was physically active my whole life 1000's of miles bicycling. I asked the doctor what gives? He said heredity takes precedence over everything else no matter how active you are.

My advice is if you ever start feeling strange don't hesitate to get help immediately.

So, take good care of yourselves my friends.

That's quite amazing that with all your activity, your heart can still have those conditions.  I walk a lot--my ex-wife actually asked me why I was walking Sunday when I collapsed and I told her I normally don't drive the short distance from where I live to the market I was going to.  Also--LOL--I hate the left turn I'd have to make across a busy 45mph thru road to get there.  When I was in high school and college I used to bike century (100 mile rides) that also would have 2000-3000 feet of vertical climbs.  I was thin and had a resting pulse around 60.  But as soon as I hit 30 I changed, my metabolism slowed down a lot.  Plus, I became a road warrior at that time so I was constantly eating meals on the go, mostly at airports and whatever I could grab, I did.  I gained weight.

When I was in Europe this May-June I gained at least 20 pounds from all the food they fed me on my tour.  As fast as I put it on I lost it.  I've been trying to reconstruct just when my serious symptoms might have started, and I'd say by the excessive thirst I had they started even before I went to Europe.  Had I not collapsed Sunday and gone to the hospital I would have just gone my merry way assuming nothing was wrong as my enemy (diabetes) worked in the background.  My ex-wife coached me that I can't afford to risk my eyesite.  But she also commended me for being cooperative in the hospital, her main goal is to make sure my eighteen year old daughter has a father as well as a mother.

I feel a bit better now that my medicine has kicked in and to celebrate I have a sim flight in p3dv4 in progress, flying my Cessna 310 from Napa to LA.  I am sure this will continue to be a learning experience.

Take Care,

John

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It is a silent killer and can start without warning.

I'm active, not overweight, went for annual physical medical exams and the doctor always said keep it up, everything is good. Not marginal, not average, but good.

Just a few years ago, shortly before I turned 40, I went for my regular physical and the results this time were not good. Not marginal, not average, they were now not good. My A1C was not pre-diabetic, it was definitely diabetic.

How could it be? Why? What can be done? Thankfully in my case it was derected early before it had time to cause damage to my body. It is at a stage where I can adapt my exercise and eating habits to keep it under control, but it is there waiting for me to slack off so it can slowly take me.

I know that it will get worse with time no matter what I do, but as long as I stay on top of it I can push that day back. It will be a sad day for me because I will likely have to hang up the helmet and goggles.

I monitor my sugar and know that a little bread or rice will send my sugar up to 300 when it will otherwise remain around 100.

One of the best things I did was attend a course on living with diabetes. It lasted several weeks and provided me with a lot of knowledge to help keep control.

The next and just important thing was to increase my activity level. It didn't take much, as a regular routine of body weight exercise helped me shed a little weight in the places that are critical for diabetics.

Take care, get check ups regularly and if you are at risk, get educated and take action!

Speedy recovery!

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57 minutes ago, Oracle427 said:

It is a silent killer and can start without warning.

I'm active, not overweight, went for annual physical medical exams and the doctor always said keep it up, everything is good. Not marginal, not average, but good.

Just a few years ago, shortly before I turned 40, I went for my regular physical and the results this time were not good. Not marginal, not average, they were now not good. My A1C was not pre-diabetic, it was definitely diabetic.

How could it be? Why? What can be done? Thankfully in my case it was derected early before it had time to cause damage to my body. It is at a stage where I can adapt my exercise and eating habits to keep it under control, but it is there waiting for me to slack off so it can slowly take me.

I know that it will get worse with time no matter what I do, but as long as I stay on top of it I can push that day back. It will be a sad day for me because I will likely have to hang up the helmet and goggles.

I monitor my sugar and know that a little bread or rice will send my sugar up to 300 when it will otherwise remain around 100.

One of the best things I did was attend a course on living with diabetes. It lasted several weeks and provided me with a lot of knowledge to help keep control.

The next and just important thing was to increase my activity level. It didn't take much, as a regular routine of body weight exercise helped me shed a little weight in the places that are critical for diabetics.

Take care, get check ups regularly and if you are at risk, get educated and take action!

Speedy recovery!

40 years ago I was scheduled to go on a high school trip to Europe.  Two weeks prior, a friend of mine, who knew I was a good cyclist, asked if I would ride for charity.  So we drove to Sacramento and they set up a mile course, and I started biking. But I did not feel well, so they stopped me, and took me to breakfast.  Then I went back onto the course and continued piling up miles, 83 in all.  I knew the people who sponsored me would be mad because I rode so many miles, LOL.

During the ride I felt warm as you would do in an athletic event. Did not think much of it, shrugged it off.  But on the way home I started feeling this odd fever and redness all over my body.  I could not go to school the next morning, so my Mom took me to the Dr. the next day.  I had the measles.  There was an epidemic in my high school.  My Mom said that was impossible, I had it when I was a baby.  I did, but they gave me a booster shot that did not build up immunity, so I got the measles twice.  The next day, I had a seizure, they put me in the hospital contamination center, measles encephalitis.

Boy was I mad.  I am supposed to fly to Europe, my first trip, and I am stuck in the hospital with my mother, father and brother coming in with masks on so they don't get infected.  Then some nurse starts jabbing a needle in me every hour to prevent the seizures.  I begged to go on my trip and they said no way, you are seriously ill.

You know what, by what means I don't know, probably heaven above I turned the corner and got out of there in three days, and I was able to go on my trip. 

So I have been blessed with rapid recovery in my life and I wish it on others.

To make this aviation specific, on my first trip to Europe the equipment was:

A DC-10 from SFO to JFK

A DC8-63 to Milan, via Munich

A DC8-63 from Munich, to Vienna

Then to Shannon

Then to Gander

Then a 707 from JFK to Dallas

And finally a 727 from Dallas to SFO

John

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18 hours ago, Oracle427 said:

It is a silent killer and can start without warning.

<snipped for brevity>

How could it be? Why? What can be done? Thankfully in my case it was derected early before it had time to cause damage to my body. It is at a stage where I can adapt my exercise and eating habits to keep it under control, but it is there waiting for me to slack off so it can slowly take me.

The day I found out how diabetes can truly cause massive and irreparable harm to one's arteries is the very day I drove myself to the VA Clinic for help.

Consider what happens when one's blood sugar level increases to the point that the liver can no longer process it.  Excess amount in the liver is stored in the form of triglycerides, a type of fat that can cling to the artery walls as it travels through the blood stream. High triglyceride levels contribute to the formation of plaque in blood vessels. Increased sugars promote oxidative stress that can damage blood vessels.

Also,  sometimes excess unprocessed sugar re-crystalizes and those little crystals begin scarring the arteries as they circulate.

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Well, I've now been giving myself insulin injections in my abdomen for three days and they help immensely.  I don't even have to draw my blood sugar to tell when I need them, if I get tremors in my legs I know.  Today I walked to the market where I fell.  I changed my route slighly to avoid the curb and rocks where I fell.  The clerk there saw what had happened when she saw the fire department arrive on Sunday, she said she wondered who was hurt.  She advised me to quit drinking diet coke and to switch to coke zero or water instead.  Still a road ahead until I am fully recovered.  I am sleeping a lot, but fewer symptoms overall.

I call myself "Doctor John" now, LOL.

John

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John, do invest the time to read the labels on any food you buy. Watch out for not only sugar, but carbohydrates. I now keep a fold-up walker in the trunk of my car in case I need it while out and about. I also hope your doctor has advised you to visit a podiatrist to help prevent nerve damage in your feet. I see mine at the VA Clinic quarterly where he also trims my nails.

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Type 1 diabetic here too.  Since I was 17 years old and I'm now approximately three times that.... :biggrin:

The key to diabetes I've found is very regular monitoring.  This helps prevent the long term problems with high blood sugars and the acute risks of a hypo (low blood sugar).   I've had to have two rounds of laser surgery on my left eye, for diabetic retinopathy but have excellent vision.  The retinopathy is a risk to fluid (leaking from diabetes-damaged blood vessels in the eyes) damaging the optic nerve (and killing off sight) rather than causing a progressive sight deterioration.  

Apart from that I'm in good shape and my docs tell me my 'numbers' are great.  The key is very regular blood monitoring - I test at least 6 times per day.  (Sometimes up to 10, depends what I'm doing).  Before every meal is a must, as is before bed and on waking in the morning.   And perhaps most importantly, before driving.

Bill's comment about the podiatrist is a very wise one too - nerve damage can progress quickly if blood sugars run too high. The feet are the furthest 'extremity' of the body and thus get the least blood flow and are highest risk for nerve damage.

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