Insulin Shock

May 27, 2008

For the past twenty months Nekko's diabetes has been under control.  Sibylle and I have eased into a pattern where she administers the AM shot, and I take care of the PM shot.  The last several spot checks of her blood glucose levels have been good, and the blood glucose curve we had performed in March was excellent.

This afternoon, for no immediately apparent reason, Nekko went into insulin shock or hypoglycemia. Fortunately, since this is the week between her spring lessons and the start of the summer program, Sibylle was home today.  She noticed that Nekko was behaving oddly, and was being very vocal.  At one point Nekko tried to throw up, and then Sibylle saw that she was arching her back and she noticed a tremor in Nekko's paws. Cats mask their pain and illness; showing weakness in the wild invites predators.  Sibylle's instinct that something wasn't quite right was well founded.  We had been told that should Nekko ever have too much insulin in her system, for any reason, to give her some syrup, as the glucose will be absorbed by the mucous membranes in her mouth immediately.  Sibylle did smear some syrup in Nekko's mouth before rushing her to the vet's.

By the time she reached the vet's office, Nekko had started to convulse, stiffening and arching in the carrier.  The doctor immediately started a dextrose IV.  The initial blood sugar reading was below the lowest detectible level.  There was no sugar in her blood stream.  Nekko was hypoglycemic.  Fortunately, thanks to Sibylle's quick action and thinking, Nekko will be okay.  We will return to pick her up for the night in a couple of hours, and then tomorrow take her in for a new glucose curve.

While we've been waiting Sibylle has done some research into insulin shock, both in people and in felines.  Everything we've read indicates that the course of action our doctor is suggesting is the right one.  That for some reason she suddenly had too much sugar in her blood stream.  Either her pancreas has started producing insulin again (not unheard of in felines), or she didn't eat sufficiently following her last shot.  We have noticed an increased aggressiveness towards our food in the last several days.  Last evening, as she was trying to eat a piece of cheesecake, Sibylle had to fend Nekko off several times.  Not at all Nekko's usual behavior.  In light of this afternoon's episode, it appears that Nekko's system may have been changing for several days now.

We'll know more tomorrow evening.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.