Photo: “Theresa is my angel,” said Betty Currier (left) with Theresa Huckabay, L.V.N. “I don’t want to think what would have happened if she hadn’t taken the time to listen to me and care about me. I trust the staff at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital - they’re like family.”
Photo: Tom Broad, Memorial Hermann
With a river tubing vacation in New Braunfels, the 4th of July holiday, and her 17th wedding anniversary, stay-at-home mom Betty Currier was having a great summer with family and friends, but she was putting her health on the backburner.
Not eating right and skipping blood sugar level checks quickly caught up to the 43-year-old diabetic from Huffman, Texas. The morning of July 8, Currier was not feeling well when she answered the phone.
“It was Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital calling to schedule a procedure,” said Currier. “But, I felt so nauseated and sick I couldn’t concentrate on what she was saying or what I was saying.”
Just seconds into the phone call, Memorial Hermann Northeast Mammography and Ultrasound Nurse Navigator Theresa Huckabay, L.V.N. knew something was not right.
“She sounded very confused and scared,” said Huckabay. “I knew immediately something wasn’t right, so I told her to hang up and call 911. I called 911, too, because I knew she was at home by herself.”
Huckabay’s instincts were right. Currier was suffering diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
Most of the food people eat is broken down into glucose (sugar in the blood), the main source of fuel for the body. Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body is unable to properly use and store glucose. It is characterized by high glucose levels that result from defects in insulin secretion, or its action, or both. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose get into the cells to give them energy. Without insulin, too much glucose stays in your blood.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 23.6 million people in the United States or 7.8 percent of the population have diabetes, a serious, lifelong condition. Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.
Moments later, when Teresa called back to check on Currier, an emergency medical services crew was loading her into an ambulance to rush her to Memorial Hermann Northeast.
The American Diabetes Association says a normal reading after fasting ranges from 70 to 130 mg/dl. In Memorial Hermann Northeast’s Emergency Center, Currier’s glucose was found to be 1,015 mg/dL, a dire emergency situation.
DKA, a life-threatening problem, occurs when the body cannot use glucose as a fuel source because there is no insulin or not enough insulin. Possible complications include fluid buildup in the brain (cerebral edema), heart attack and death of bowel tissue due to low blood pressure, and kidney failure.
Currier spent two days in the Intensive Care Unit at Memorial Hermann Northeast where Theresa was a frequent visitor.
“Theresa is my angel,” said Currier. “I don’t want to think what would have happened if she hadn’t taken the time to listen to me and care about me. I trust the staff at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital - they’re like family.”
A leader in quality and patient safety, Memorial Hermann Northeast has been accredited as a Certified Chest Pain Centerby the Society of Chest Pain Centers. The hospital is also recognized by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association as a Gold Plus Stroke Facility, designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council, and distinguished as a Top Performer on key quality measures by The Joint Commission.