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A Vacation “On Hold” – One Patient’s Story

Posted on January 29, 2021

Indiana resident receives intensive care at LeConte Medical Center following unexpected complication from diabetes

Kathie Toschlog isn’t the kind of person who seeks fame or loves to bask in the limelight. Sitting for an interview isn’t something she does very often. But she is sharing her story because she wants to support healthcare workers at LeConte Medical Center during an unprecedented time.

Kathie Toschlog

Toschlog was a patient at LeConte in March during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a frightening time, but she says the physicians, nurses and staff never wavered in their level of care or their level of compassion.

“I just really appreciated everything,” Toschlog says. “They were just so nice.”

A Most Memorable Trip

Toschlog’s son and daughter-in-law had gifted her with a Gatlinburg vacation. The trip from her home in Richmond, Indiana, was uneventful at first, although Toschlog had been a little under the weather.

“I thought it was the flu,” says Toschlog, who decided at the time she could probably “shake it off.”

Once they arrived in Gatlinburg, they were joined by one of Toschlog’s daughters for what should have been some relaxing family time. But Toschlog couldn’t seem to get past whatever had gone wrong inside her body. She was exhausted and she lost her appetite.

“My daughter-in-law shoved her glucometer in front of me and said, ‘Check your sugar,’” recalls Toshlog, who has Type 2 diabetes. “It was pretty high.”

The kids called Toschlog’s husband, and he told them to take her to a hospital emergency department. Toschlog was suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a complication of diabetes that happens when the body can’t produce enough insulin and reacts by producing high levels of blood acids (ketones).

Toschlog says, “I had an underlying infection and Type 2 diabetes. Those two things had gotten the best of me and were fighting anything that I was trying to do.” Toschlog confesses that she hadn’t been actively treating her diabetes and hadn’t given it much thought for several years. Now diabetes had put her in a hospital intensive care unit.

The Kindness of Strangers

Toschlog’s husband rushed to Gatlinburg to be by her side. But visitation was just becoming restricted because of the COVID-19 pandemic and he wasn’t able to be with her. Alone and far from home, Toschlog had only the medical staff at LeConte Medical Center to count on. It was a frightening and uncertain time for everyone, but the dedicated healthcare professionals never missed a beat.

“My whole experience, everyone I dealt with the entire time I was there, every single person that was in my room or anywhere in the building was just super,” she says.

“The doctor was so nice and if I rang for a nurse they were right there. The food was good. The housekeeping staff were wonderful and so friendly.”

Toschlog was relieved to learn that she could take oral medication and wouldn’t need a PICC line (a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter used for intravenous medication). She was finally ready to go home and reunite with her family. The nurse who wheeled Toschlog out of the hospital offered final words of encouragement.

A lot of things have changed since then. The experience was a wakeup call for Toschlog. She takes her medication regularly, she’s changed her lifestyle and has lost about 30 pounds.

She now refers to LeConte Medical Center as “my Tennessee hospital,” and is grateful for the care she received there. “It was a scary time for everyone and it still is to some extent,” she says. “I just really appreciated everything.”