ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – All day every day, students in the Premier High School Medical Program learn and practice the procedures they’ll one day use in the field. As a part of their immersive education, they regularly practice routine tests such as drawing blood, EKGs, and blood sugar sampling on each other.

“We were studying for the exam and Olivia wanted to brush up on some of her skills,” said instructor and registered nurse Christine O’shields.

Senior Olivia Ward was hoping to get some practice on her blood sugar testing, to which her friend and fellow senior Jeanette Thomas happily obliged.

Thomas (left) getting a blood sugar test from Ward (right)

“She was like who wants me to check their blood sugar and I was like me!… I was used to it. She likes poking people,” Thomas explained.

At the time she was unaware of just how much this simple test would impact her life. Though she began to get a hint when her friend’s eyes widened and she called for the teacher.

“When she told me I was in complete shock so I told her to double-check it. Check it again make sure that that’s right,” O’shields recalled.

Thomas’s blood sugar reading had come back at 450, well above the normal 80-120 readings of her classmates.

“I really didn’t know what to do because… Okay like my friend could have something wrong with her and… I started to worry about that and then when Mrs. O’shields like took over. I felt more relieved because like okay she’s here with an RN,” expressed Ward.

Though O’shields admits she was a bit worried as well, the situation was beyond what she could help with the limited medical equipment and personnel on campus.

“I said you need to leave now. She was like oh I don’t want to leave. And I said you have to leave you have to go. And I called her mom,” said O’shields.

Thomas paid a visit to her primary care physician within the next hour. Her blood sugar reading at that time was 500. Later climbing to 600 when she was care flighted to Cook Medical center in Fort Worth where many more tests and IVs were waiting. Not exactly the relaxing evening she had planned.

“It wasn’t really scary for me it was just kind of annoying. Like I don’t have the time for it,” Thomas explained.

O’shields (left) stands with students Thomas and Ward.

But the alternative was far scarier than she knew at the time. The previously non-diabetic Thomas has gone into Diabetic Ketoacidosis. A potential life-threatening diagnosis according to O’shields.

“She could have gone home, laid down, slipped into a coma and then possibly passed in the night,” O’shields said.

A horrifying thought to O’shields. That one of her students could have been lost so easily to a preventable diagnosis all because the symptoms were easy to miss.

“It was a fluke, but my goodness, what a fluke,” said O’shields.

Thomas shared she tests daily now. O’shields added that this should stand as a reminder to all to heed the signs of an impending diabetic attack. Those signs include fatigue, extreme thirst, increased urination, a ‘fruity smell’ on the breath, body aches and nausea.