Maintaining operative control – by Helen May

Maybe it’s because I was diagnosed in my 30s so my parents never managed my diabetes. Maybe it’s because I arrogantly think I know best or maybe it’s because I’m a control freak. Whatever the reason, I like to control my own diabetes.

When my recent surgery was first discussed, I mentioned my Type 1. The consultant said the hospital would take care of it and ensure it was under control before I was discharged. I responded with silence thinking to myself “we’ll see about that”. Diabetes was barely mentioned after that except a brief discussion about keeping my cannula out of the way during the operation.

On the day of the operation, the nurse checked my vitals: blood pressure, etc. I told her about my pump and she became concerned. She was concerned if I tried to manage my diabetes with the pump and there was a problem, she would not know what to do with the pump. I tried to explain but she was not interested. Eventually, she agreed to leave it up to the anaesthetist.

When the anaesthetist came for his pre-op discussion, the elephant in the room jumped well out of the closet. The anaethetist and I discussed how the basal worked with my pump, how he would monitor my blood glucose (old fashioned finger pricks every hour) and how he could react if he detected any problems by adding insulin or glucose via the drip. As a result, he was confident to leave my pump alone and I was confident that he would keep my blood glucose under control.

The operation went well. When I awoke, the nurse pricked my finger and all was well with my blood glucose.

I had to stay overnight following a general anaesthetic and a 90 minute operation. But I was ok to eat dinner before drifting off to sleep.

Unfortunately, the sleep did not last long. There were no problems with the surgery. However, they had to make sure. Between 9pm and midnight, I was woken on the hour every hour. Then I was left to sleep for two hours before being woken. Each time, my blood pressure and  heart rate were measured. And each time, my finger was pricked. I was left to adjust my insulin based on the blood glucose reading. I was in control.

The next morning, I was deemed fit enough to go home. I was allowed to manage my pain, recovery and diabetes myself. And I wouldn’t be woken up throughout the night.

So, whatever the reason for wanting to maintain control, I managed it. Under similar circumstances, some people may not want the extra pressure of managing their diabetes. But, I was pleased the hospital team had confidence in me and realised giving me control reduced my stress.

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