Sometimes it's when she's being the most cooperative and responsible that I need to pay the closest attention. It's been a challenging week here, as I've juggled multiple ministry responsibilities including pastoral care in some very difficult situations. Several nights I ended up needing to run to the hospital for a visit to someone who was dying. Normally, these visits are done while my daughter is safely occupied at the sheltered workshop, but this past week there weren't enough hours in the day to deal with all the various needs.
My daughter is an old pro at these visits. She takes her ipod and/or an art project and waits somewhat patiently in a waiting room while I go attend to the patient and/or family. She knows that her reward will be a meal out, though sometimes it's just driving through a fast food place. This past week she connected with the family of the dying member, and had been very supportive throughout the disruption of our routine: "Mom, it's okay, you're a minister, and you need to be there for them."
Yesterday I dragged her to the hospital in the City with me, and then agreed to drop her off in Town so she could go to a movie with friends while I went to the funeral home for another family. I decided I'd save gas by following up the funeral home visit with a trip to the grocery store, so I wouldn't have to make another trip to Town to pick her up later. When we got home, she could tell I was exhausted, and encouraged me to go put my feet up, which I did. After dinner in the hospital cafeteria, she wasn't very hungry come supper time, so I helped her figure out insulin for chips, salsa, and cheese for supper. She watched a little bit of TV with me, and then went to bed early. (She had awakened at 3:45 a.m., and unable to fall back to sleep, had been up ever since). As I was preparing for bed, I went down to the kitchen, and discovered an almost full bag of pretzels was missing. I suddenly knew why her blood sugar had been so high when she checked before her bedtime snack. I went up to her bedroom and turned on the light, looking for the missing pretzels. Those were well hidden, but I quickly found a number of empty half cup ice cream containers, hidden in a lunch box. She woke up, and I asked her to give me the pretzels, which were hidden under a pillow.
This morning she was very cooperative (she heard me leave at 2:15 to go to the hospital in the City), and very apologetic. I was too tired to deal with the food issue then, though I did point out the extra ice cream would not help her in her quest to lose weight.
I know why it happened. I know why in the midst of being outwardly cooperative and supportive to the point of volunteering for extra household chores she was bingeing on food through the night. She was testing me: Could I still protect her and keep her safe from herself when I was in the midst of a busy and emotionally draining week? Did I still love her when my attention and energy were focused on several grieving families?
I also know that I cannot control her eating. It's taken 8 years of diabetes battles, but I've finally figured it out (so I'm a little slow....) I know I can't turn this into a power struggle. What I will do is have her write down the extra food in her record book, along with any blood sugars and extra insulin she took (she says she took insulin to cover, and I believe her, since her morning numbers have been pretty much in range). I will ask her t0 wash out the ice cream cups since there won't be room for that many in the dishwasher at once. I will offer to support her in her battle by placing the ice cream in the back porch freezer and locking it, if she thinks that will help. It is her disease, and she needs to take responsibility for it. I can support her, but I can't control her.
I will also wash her hair for her tonight. She told me this morning she had wet it down, but she hasn't tried to wash it and hasn't asked me, because she knows I've been too busy. I will show her by my actions that even when my ministry is very demanding, I still am paying attention to her. I still notice when she's not keeping herself safe, and I will still provide her the support and help she needs.