I have searched the internet for blogs relating to burns injuries and have struggled to find any, therefore if you are reading this and know of one please let me know on twitter @gfadventureer . My latest adventure started with a kidney infection, high blood sugars and a hot drink. Sadly, the hot drink decided the best place for it to end up would be on my legs thus resulting in some pretty impressive burns injuries, a very long ambulance ride (100 miles) and an 8 day stay in a burns unit. During this time I was lucky enough to have a working and accurate FreeStyle Libre on me. I was lucky that as I left the house my blood testing kit and the FreeStyle Libre were bundled into my hand as without those I would have been lost.
I very rarely leave the house without my blood testing kit, yet the FreeStyle Libre came into it’s own during my time in A and E where due to the impressive qualities of gas and air, morphine and other drugs I was having a brilliant time. Thankfully my mum was able to check my glucose in a non-invasive manner for the doctors as I can be a bit reluctant to allow other people to prick my fingers.
So how does a burns injury affect your diabetes? Ketones, lack of “survival” equipment and a constant Temporary Basal Rate of 170% were a few of the issues I had to overcome. Alongside the hospital diabetes team not coming to see me even though I asked on various occasions if I could be seen. This has taught me a few vital things.
1 – Always have your spare pump, accessories and other insulin pump paraphernalia packed in a bag and ready to go. Although my mum was wonderful hunting for infusion sets, cartridges and other items, I am not convinced this was an easy task. In future I will make sure that my spare pump bag I take on holiday is packed all the time, not just for holidays. Additionally as I only use an insulin pump with two spare ones as back up (I know I’m lucky to have spare pumps, that is the result of using a pump for 13 years), but no means of injecting, it would have been a disaster if anything had happened to my pump.
2 – Your own blood glucose meter will be 100 times better, faster and use much less blood than the hospital blood glucose machine. As with my earlier point that now includes packing spare sticks, glucose chargers (FreeStyle Libre and OneTouch Verio) in an easily accessible place.
3 – Ketones are evil. Even worse when no-one is able to test you for ketones. Thank goodness for the FreeStyle Libre and it’s ketone testing ability. Thank goodness for boiled sweets and most of all being able to ask people on twitter for advice on how to treat.
4 – Diabetes seems to slow everything down. Yes my burns did need a lot of attention and have taken a lot of time healing including due to my diabetes, but it is only recently that I have noticed how much longer I am taking to heal. This could be due to poor control because of my burns, or one of those things that happens due to diabetes. Is the fact that I am still feeling so tired related to the burns or the diabetes? I don’t know, yet two months later I am only just healed after being told it would be four weeks.
5 – Insulin pumps love surgery. My insulin pump came to surgery with me and remained attached. The surgeon gave strict instructions to make sure that no wires were accidentally cut! I think my insulin pump enjoyed this mini adventure, he has been to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge and in an operating theater in the last year!
6 – Every member of the hospital team will want to see your insulin pump and infusion sites. The number of people who had never seen an insulin pump before seriously shocked me along with the genuine curiosity and interest shown in understanding how it worked and what it did.
Thankfully I am now on the mend and have had the most wonderful NHS treatment for my burns. I cannot give enough praise to the burns unit, the staff and the resources which they have. I feel truly lucky that I have received such outstanding NHS treatment from my arrival at A and E (I did go to the doctors first in floods of tears with mild hypothermia) to the follow up scar management. I am lucky that for me the NHS is very wonderful!