Gastro-Intestinal Problems in Children with Type 1 Diabetes: Always a Crisis


Two nights ago, we were back in the Minneapolis children’s hospital emergency room. Our five year old son, Sacha, had started to vomit at 3 am, and soon thereafter began experiencing painful stomach cramps. With a touch of the dramatic, he kept yelling, “Daddy, make it stop! Please! I’m going to die!” Gastro-intestinal problems in young children with Type 1 diabetes always create a sense of parental crisis.   

By 6 am, we decided that I should take him into the hospital. Dehydration, vomiting, and the severe cramping, we feared, were going to somehow wreak havoc on his blood sugars, even though he was still within normal range. 

Over the years, I’ve been to the children’s hospital emergency room anywhere from 10-15 times with one of my kids. The one good thing about having Sacha with T1D, I’ve found, is that the medical staff typically try to triage you to the front of the line.

The line wasn’t long, thankfully, and within minutes, we were in a room and had been seen by a doctor. She recommended a stomach X-ray and an IV drip, and later suggested an enema to clear Sacha’s bowels. By 10 am, he was feeling much better; no more vomiting, and blood sugars under good control. He’d watched about three hours of hospital TV, and was pretty pleased with that.  

As we drove home, I had a few thoughts: 

1. Diabetes has a way of transforming even the most routine of childhood illnesses into a  crisis. I hate that.

2. Diabetes often gets us seen more quickly in hospital. That’s good.

3. I can’t imagine doing this kind of hospital run in a foreign language. Thank goodness this never happened while we were in Mexico last year, where my Spanish was rudimentary, and the medical system so different! Will I have the courage to go overseas again with the kids for a prolonged trip? Probably, once I forget this particular incident….   

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Scott K. Johnson
10 years ago

Yikes!  What an adventure.  Poor little guy (and parents!).  Glad everything is Ok.

10 years ago

they are too quick and too casual about x rays.  was it necessary? no, was it needed at all?  no.  did the hospital make money from the x ray?  yes.  we need to be careful about letting them do x rays on us as they are known to be more risky than they will let on !!

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