Belfast mum of three opens up about the diabetic episode that almost took her life

Mum of three, Elaine Sayers, from Belfast has opened up about taking a diabetic ketoacidosis that almost took her life, one year ago.  

Diabetic ketoacidosis is when harmful substances called ketones build up in your system due to your body running out of insulin.  

Elaine was diagnosed with diabetes in 2016. Speaking about the diagnosis she said, “It’s called LADA, latent autoimmune diabetes in adults, on track with type one. It was a shock to get the diagnosis but over the years I learned how to manage it. I got to understand when I was in a hypo or a hyper and I really understood how it affected my body.” 

But, on November 4th 2021 Elaine had to be rushed to hospital. When asked about the events that led to this, Elaine told me, “I had a sore tooth so I got an emergency appointment to get it removed. When I was there I had to fill out a questionnaire in which I detailed that I was diabetic. I got my tooth removed and went home. The next day I was violently sick. My husband phoned the dentist and she said I should feel better by the next day and that she would call to check in on me in 24 hours. If I was left for 24 hours, I would have died”.  

It wasn’t long before she knew something was seriously wrong. “I was having crazy dreams, I felt like my body was fighting against itself. My husband listened to the dentist and believed I would feel better with sleep. It got to six am and I was delusional. It was obvious an ambulance was needed, it was an emergency”.  

Elaine continued, “It felt like forever for my family who were waiting. I wasn’t aware of anything, I was just mumbling absolute nonsense. When the paramedics arrived they caught on quickly that it was a DKA. They knew they had to get me to hospital.” 

When at the hospital, Elaine explained, “I had no idea what was going on. I was put in the same ICU room that my brother passed away in three months prior. I remember waking up and seeing doctors working on me. I asked them if I was going to die and they tried to reassure me that they thought they had got me through it. The next time I woke up I was already in my own room on a ward.”  

When asked how her recovery was, she said, “It was quite quick once they got me treated. I was out of hospital after a few days. I recovered well when I got home but the lasting impact has been on my family. One year later and I still don’t remember everything that happened, but they have been left scarred. I hope that if anything comes out of this it is that there is more awareness of DKA’s and that dentists educate themselves so that this doesn’t happen to anyone in the future.”  

For more information on the symptoms and how to protect yourself from a DKA, visit