Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Listening to Your Body

Daughter has always had a difficult time understanding what her body is telling her. It is thought that she tuned out a number of sensations as a result of her early abuse. There are still times when she’ll come complaining to me about not feeling good, and when I ask for specifics and she explains, I’ll tell her she needs to go the bathroom. She’s always surprised when I’m right.

When she was diagnosed with diabetes, one of my fears was that she would not be able to tell when her blood sugar was low until it was too late and she’d lost consciousness. For a number of years, any time she’s mentioned any vague complaint, I’ve responded with, “What’s your blood sugar?” At one point I was sure she’d have that placed on my tombstone, as that would be all she’d remember of me. I’ve been pleased with how well she has learned to identify lows. She catches them 99% of the time. That doesn’t mean she has learned how to interpret the other signals her body sends.

The other morning I got up early and came down to cook breakfast, which I only do a couple of times a week. Daughter came down and was quite pleased, and quickly informed me that she was hungry. She checked her blood sugar, took her insulin, and sat down to eat.

“Mom, my stomach hurts. I can’t eat this.”

“I thought you said you were hungry.”

“I thought my stomach was hurting because I was hungry, but I was wrong.”

Having taken her insulin, Daughter needed to eat, or she would go low. She had taken insulin based on eating a certain number of carbohydrates for breakfast.

“You have to eat.”

“I know.”

She wandered off into the bathroom and came back in a couple of minutes. Sounding relieved, she assured me, “That was my problem; I needed to go the bathroom.” She sat back down and still couldn’t eat.

I suggested she go unload the dishwasher and talk to herself about how good her breakfast would be, and then she could stick it in the microwave to reheat and eat it. She tried, and was able to eat a few more bites. She finally told me she’d rather go low than finish her breakfast. She hates lows, so I knew she wouldn’t be able to eat the rest, so I had her drink some milk in the hopes that would make up for what she hadn’t been able to eat. She didn’t go low, so it worked.

Daughter often tells me how much she hates diabetes. I agree, though I always seek to be upbeat. It’s not fair that I have to force her to eat when she isn’t feeling good. It’s not fair that she can’t tell when she’s not going to be able to eat. If she’d been able to tell me what was wrong before she took her insulin, I’d have had her wait until after she ate so she’d just cover the food she actually was able to get down. Many of the things that most of us take for granted are major challenges for Daughter. It's just not fair.

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