8 days | Stomach Virus and Diabetes

omnipod sick day
4th diaversary ended differently than planned

Part 1 of 2 –

Not too long after sending Caleb off to school on his 4th diaversary, I got a phone call. It was just before lunch, Caleb was with the nurse ready to bolus, but he had no interest in eating. Mrs. M knew enough not to proceed with administering insulin – thank you!

Caleb came home not feeling well and ultimately threw up that evening. He woke up the next day okay.  Not 100%, but good. He stayed home and recovered.

Or so I thought.

The next few days were the same. Caleb started his days like normal.  He ate only a little less than usual for breakfast. Then as each day proceeded, he deteriorated. Then rallied. Then he couldn’t stand the sight of food. Then he was running around singing – happy as a clam. He threw up one more time during these three days – but it was a quick, painless, isolated incident. For the most part he was able to eat a little here and there.  It didn’t seem too unusual for someone recovering from a stomach bug.

I slowly realized that anything Caleb ate required no insulin. I also slowly realized that for every 15 or 20 carbs I forced this poor boy to consume because it was getting increasingly difficult to keep his blood sugar above 100, only about 5 were showing up in his bg readings.

Not only had I not delivered a bolus of insulin for days, but his basal was just about as low as it could go and at times I turned it off completely.  Caleb uses about 25 units of insulin per day. He was down to less than 4.

We again thought he was done with it because he became a little interested in food, but he relapsed and spent a day going back and forth between happy go lucky and crying in agony and then vomiting. He was having trouble keeping anything down and was so exhausted from having to sip juice, suck on an ice pop or take a spoonful of Hershey’s syrup that the thought of consuming the slightest thing brought tears to his eyes and a pit to my stomach.

I knew we had mini-glucagon as an option, but I couldn’t help think we weren’t really in the red-box emergency zone. I knew we could bring him to the ER if we needed to, but good golly, I wanted to avoid that if we could.

At that point David called the doctor. Our concern was not so much managing D; we just didn’t know why this thing kept rearing its ugly head just when we thought it was gone. “It’s viral. It’s viral. It’s viral.” Okay fine. Sorry to bother you. Thank you very much.

With great effort, we were able to maintain his blood sugars in a safe range. Somehow, we’re able to ward off ketones, only occasionally entering the “trace” zone and once the “small” zone, but never for long.

For two more days Caleb had no appetite. He was able to take in fluids here and there and although it was still a challenge, we were managing to keep his bgs in a safe range with minimal amounts of insulin while completely avoiding ketones.

This was a long, tense, sleepless and horrid-at-times, eight days.

On day 8, which happened to be by birthday, Caleb still didn’t want any meals, but was willing to share my birthday treat of Jelly Bellys.  For three reasons I will never forget this:

  1. I just that day discovered that Jelly Bellys are no longer peanut contaminated and therefore safe for Caleb to eat. It was joyous to welcome them back into our home and fun to figure out the different flavors with Caleb and experience that with him for the first time.
  2. I didn’t count a single carb as he ate those sugary, flavorful beans.
  3. He spit out a cherry one claiming it tasted like vomit. Whatever juice or ice pop I made him consume must have been cherry flavored. Cherry is one of my favorites. I wasn’t quite sure what to think about hearing it equated to vomit.

As quickly as it came on, it was gone. Just like that.  He was back to normal. He woke up on day nine STARVING (music to my ears) and almost instantly was back to his normal doses of insulin.

To all the people who live with diabetes and handle situations like this all on their own, I applaud you. It’s not easy managing someone else in this situation. Managing it by yourself is simply heroic.

Caleb finally did get to have his diaversary meal, albeit a little late…

omnipod diaversary
Pasta and meatballs and a crown made especially for him by sister, Lila

38 Replies to “8 days | Stomach Virus and Diabetes”

  1. WE had one of those bizarre no-insulin-required weeks when Michael was little. He was on DMI and already had NPH on board! I had to keep feeding him…..and then he threw it all up. I think it was just too much food! For a week he required NO insulin ever. It was somehow scarier than when he ran high. We guessed his pancreas was putting on a show : ) Much love to your family and all of the efforts you all put in to make Caleb’s life wonderful.

  2. OMGoodness Lo! You and Caleb and the family had quite a time of it! I was just commenting to Joe’s school nurse how lucky we have been, that Joe has only had 1 stomach bug since “d” entered his life over 4 years ago. I hope I am not choking on my words in the next few weeks.

    You did a fantastic job and it is soooo interesting to hear about Caleb’s TDD of insulin. Joe is 16-20 units. I would have been freaking on 4u/d. So glad the ketones were kept at bay.

    Love to you!

    1. Reyna – before this year we had no stomach virus’ either. Just an isolated incident here or there. Knocking wood for you and Joe!

  3. Sounds all too familiar, diabetes and appetite are always tricky for me when dealing with a virus.
    Don’t know how my parents dealt with it, but reading this I know they had to worry about a lot – even though I never saw a worried expression on either of their faces.

    Thank god he never got sick enough for the ER or glucagon!

    Happy he’s doing better and finally got to have that diaversary meal!! GREAT hat, caleb!!!

  4. There is nothing I dread quite so much as a stomach virus these days! I am so glad it is gone and a belated happy birthday to you!

  5. Oh I am sorry that he spent his 4th diaversary sick! His story is interesting, cause G here caught the stomach bug on her diaversary around the 9th. It stayed for 4 days and like Caleb, she wanted nothing to eat or drink. And surprisingly, or amazingly, she stayed steady with her BGs, neither really rising or dropping. I temp basaled a couple times, lowering her basal by 50% overnight and for a few hours here and there, but overall, we made it through ok. I had glucagon ready, like you, but never needed it and I did contemplate the whole ER thing too, but never made it there either. I looked back at G’s TDD during the 4 day stretch and she used 10-12 units a day, when her norm is 28-30, so almost 1/3 less. It makes it nice to hear that someone else had the same experience roughly and made it through. My doctor kept saying it was viral too an just keep pushing fluids, which we did.
    I am so glad he got to enjoy Jelly Bellys with you. And happy belated birthday Lorraine! Thanks for sharing Caleb’s tale!

    1. It seems like everywhere I turn I’m reading about another child with a stomach bug, Penny. I’m glad you and G made it though okay too.

  6. Yuck, flu bugs are the worst. Glad you guys made it thru it ok, though it certainly sounds like it was certainly an odd one.

    1. Odd indeed. After he was back to school, the school nurse told me it’s what was going around and several kids who had been out with the stomach bug and since returned to school, were out again with a stomach bug! It was a slow one to die off.

  7. I’m so glad he’s finally feeling better! Diabetes complicates just about every illness but I think stomach ailments are the hardest. It’s hard enough to find the right balance of insulin and food and activity but when a virus is added to the mix that messes with bg on it’s own plus not eating regularly, forget it. I hate that it went on for so long but so glad you were able to avoid the ER! Kudos to you Lo!!

    1. Thanks Stacey. I think that’s what is so heartbreaking, is that diabetes complicates everything. It doesn’t even allow you to recover from a flu without demanding so much attention.

  8. I’ve been in your position. The bolus-less meals, the constant worry. I’m so sorry your family had such a tough 8 days. I hate how it makes it all more real. Worry has a way of changing our perspective. SO happy all is well, and especially happy to see that smiling face! Job well done mom and dad!

    1. I was definitely in hyper defense mode. It’s funny how the brain adapts that way and prepares you for battle.

  9. I know when I had bouts of flu as a kid – it wasn’t much fun for my Mum. Remember, she didn’t have all the devices we have today for seeing how we’re doing. She just went based on Mum Instinct, and kept me topped up with fluids (egg nog) and other things that would keep me going. I’m pretty lucky, and hopefully Caleb will be too, that I rarely got really sick. Sometimes I’ve had friends that are non-D that say that I’ll probably outlive them all, since I don’t seem to get touched much by things like they do. Blame my good health on my Mum 🙂 Hopefully Caleb will be saying the same things 40 years from now like I am to you 🙂

  10. WOW! I’m so sorry you guys had to go through that nightmare. I’m so glad Caleb is feeling better and hopefully you are all recovering! You are a hero and so inspiring..you are one of those wonderful D-Mom’s that keep me chugging along with a smile even when I’m totally exhausted from the D.

  11. What a rotten, stinkin’ virus!!!! I can’t imagine being on high alert for that long. How did you stay sane???? Glad is is over your you guys and I look forward to part 2 of the story. Oh, and tell Lila she did a very nice job on Caleb’s crown 😉

    1. Because there were times of complete normalcy (I had even sent him back to school a couple of times thinking we were in the clear) I was able to maintain some sanity. It was getting to me (and of course Caleb) at the end though. I think it ended just in time. 🙂

  12. We’ve just had something similar, but it was after my little sister had such a severe low she didn’t wake up. Half an hour later and three or four juiceboxes she came round, and threw up- second time they’ve dropped to that extreme in one month! We didn’t use the glucagon as she was accepting (for the most part) the juice that was being squirted in her mouth. She’s still off school, but better with some weird blood sugars- of course the (four) doctors on call we’ve talks to and the (three) different sliding scales we’ve been given have not helped matters. Glad your son’s better now and other families have those ‘crazy’ times where people without diabetes affecting someone close to them hear the stories and say ‘well can’t you just fix it?’ Like there’s a magic wand or something!

  13. VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Great job, TEAM CALEB. I’m so happy to hear that he’s is better. These tummy bugs are wreaking havoc all over the DOC!

  14. Ah, Lorraine, it did me good to hear about the lower need for insulin. It is just so individual. That first photo brought immediate tears to my eyes. The open-mouthed sleeping they do when completely out of it. You did so well. And you write about it in such a great way. Thanks and Happy Diaversary to Caleb. Oh, yes, hooray for the peanut-free Jelly Bellies too! My husband loves them and has to be forced to share!

  15. This post brings tears to my eyes. We have been to the E.R. just a few weeks ago for a nasty stomach virus and have avoided it (the E.R.) three times last year as well. My Evan is just turned seven years old and it is heart wrenching to go through these illnesses with my little boy. Thank you for your blog, I am so relieved to find you and a few others recently. It makes me feel like I am not alone. My husband is a wonderful man and as supportive as he can be, but he is not a mother (no offense to all the great guys out there!). You are an awesome mom and not a bad pancreas! Keep fighting the good fight, I am with you!

  16. I’m sorry to hear Caleb was so sick last week, but glad he’s feeling better now. Kudos to both of you for managing diabetes through it. I love that he wore a crown for his diaversary! I may have to steal that idea. 🙂

  17. Oh my goodness . . . I’m so behind on my reading. I am a weepy mess reading this. Loved the Jelly Belly 3. One day, Lorraine, we are going to get the families together and just have a wonderful time. I long to hug your neck and for Ryan to meet Caleb and play together. One day, I tell you, I will make this happen!

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