Piecing Things Together

August 23rd, 2012 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

Coming up on my 25th anniversary of being diagnosed with type one diabetes, I finally thought to ask my doctor today why they made me drink those nasty potassium drinks in 1988.  She made the fellow answer, which I thought was funny.  (The fellow, who came in 45 minutes before the doctor did and proceeded to tell me all these things she’s “heard” about me… apparently my doc talked to her about me before she saw me.  I guess maybe they don’t see too many type one attorney slash personal trainers in their offices.  So funny…and cool, too.  Glad to know they reviewed my chart!)

The answer they gave me was enough to fill in a piece or two about my hospital stay and physical condition prior to my diagnosis.  (Once I was diagnosed, my questions were put on hold for a long time as I tried to learn a new life.)  I’m at best paraphrasing here, at worst being completely wrong.  Please if I’m completely wrong and you know it, tell me!!

Anyway, without insulin the cells can’t use potassium in my blood, sort of like glucose.  Without potassium, electrolytic stuff like THE HEART doesn’t work.  So even though I may have had a lot of potassium in my bloodstream, without insulin I essentially had a potassium deficit. 

But once insulin is introduced, all the cells suck up the potassium and then you have a low blood potassium level, which again AFFECTS THE HEART and all the features in the body that need electricity (which I have never ever understood). So they supplement with a potassium drink when they started me on insulin to keep my cells and blood levels happier.


Glad I asked… since I had been sleeping so well before knowing this.

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  1. Mandy says:

    I had to drink those nasty drinks when I was diagnosed and hospitalized in 1996. I didn’t know the reason either, but they did say how critical I was when I came into the ER. I was immediately put in the Coronary Care Unit and monitored and treated there for 2 full days before spending 2 more days in a regular room. Anyway, thanks for the reason for that nasty potassium drink! :). Now it makes much better sense!

  2. I know; right? I can’t believe I haven’t asked before today. I hope I got the information right; a quick Google search says low potassium can cause heart damage, so I got at least that right.
    I’m glad I posted about it– I had no idea and I’m glad I wasn’t the only one!! :)

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