Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Proof I don't know everything.

Last week L had his last swimming lesson of the Summer Season. It was one of those crazy days...I don't remember all the details, but we were in a rush and I had to bring B along too. I had L check his sugar in the car on the way to the pool and a 119 popped up.

119 isn't really an ideal number...but for some reason, on that day...my head said, "Alrighty then! Let's swim!" Probably because his sugars have been running high the past couple weeks, and lows have been scarce if not non-existent.

We were late to the lesson and L ran ahead of me, smiling and spunky as usual. We walked in just as he was jumping into the pool...his teacher had him dunk his head and he did it with ease.

And then his teacher said, "Let's start with freestyle," and that is when it went all downhill.

He said, "But I can't do freestyle. I can't swim."

Both his teacher and I were taken aback, 'cause, yes he can.

The next 20 minutes were horrifying to watch. It was like he never had any lessons at all. He would jump off the step and flail and frantically grab for his teacher. My feelings were torn between terrifying fear and rising anger. These private lessons are expensive. This is the last summer lesson, what is he doing?? My jaw sat agape and my body sat stunned and frozen. I didn't know what to think.

I called from the side, "L, you need to listen to your teacher. You can swim, we all know you can. Just do your best, you will be fine."

Yeah, that didn't help.

He continued to flop in, freak out, and then begin to panic. Then his tears started and it was like I was hit on the side of my head with a bag full of rocks..."Could he be low??"

I stopped the lesson and brought him to the side. He was 52.

There was only 10 minutes left of the lesson and I knew I couldn't get him up enough to swim safely, so we said our goodbyes.

I kept playing the scene again and again in my mind. I knew blood sugars caused you to have no energy. I knew they caused you to be shaky. But paranoia? Could it be that the low caused him to forget he could swim?

I went home that night and messaged a few amazing type 1 woman. I pleaded with them to shed some light on the manic scene I had witnessed with L. Could his behavior been caused by the low?

Turns out yes. Absolutely.

One of these woman confided in me that Lows make her feel helpless. That she can't get her body to do what she wants it to do. Another let me know that she does get paranoia with lows, and even feels like everyone hates her and she is a loser. Much like a panic attack. One of them has had dreams full of paranoia.

It came to me that lows can heighten your insecurities. L is insecure in his swimming. He is scared of the water...and no matter how much progress we have made...that low made him go back to that place that told him it wasn't safe anymore.

I'm not sure I can put into words the sadness I have that I didn't pick up on the sugar nose dive earlier that day. I feel like I let him down. I let him suffer in that water for 20 minutes before I pulled him out. I know that I didn't know...but I should have known better. Because as my friend Reyna says, "If you know better, you do better."

I am humbled. I never thought I knew everything...but I thought I had a small grip on it all. This instance made me realize I will never know all the dark corners of this disease. There are always more surprises.

And now I won't be so bowled over. I have learned a valuable lesson. Don't get too comfortable.

I stand ready.

Bring it.

(P.S. L's teacher has agreed to 4 more lessons. I spoke to L and he seems to agree that those feelings came from the low. I feel strongly he needs to get back up on that horse. I can't let that last session be what he remembers from swimming...he needs to get his confidence back. I know he can do it!)


  1. Oh Meri, so sorry L had to go through this, but I am glad that you found an answer to some of it. We all don't know everything about this damn D, it always surprises us. I am glad L is getting back on the horse that threw him, that's a good attitude for swimming, as well as life.

  2. I'm sorry you had to go through this but I am also happy that you had to go through this because you have just given ALL your readers the benefit of this experience. Think of all the kids and all the moms that WILL know this little tidbit and not have to go through the 20 minutes of questioning thanks to this post. And now that you mention it, I do notice that Jonathan's asperger's symptoms are completely magnified by highs/lows.

  3. "Bizarre" or "unusual" behavior is a tip off for me to check BG - even if we 'just checked.' I am way more tolerant of weird behavior if it is BG related. But the when accompanied by a BG of 160, preceded by a BG of 154 just 20 min ago? That is what throws me off. :/

  4. One particular low that I had, I fell to pieces crying hysterically because I didn't want my friend A to see me cry. Never mind her entire family, including her sister, who I am closer to, were standing there watching me. I was a mess. Looking back I think it was hilarious that I cried cause I didn't want her to see me cry.

  5. I wish we could know what it feels like for them.

    I think swimming amplifies the effects of out of range numbers. We haven't had a swimming low yet but when Bryce is high, it looks like he is swimming in mud. I can always tell where his bg is by what he looks like doing laps.

    Glad you will be getting L back into the water.

  6. Reyna's quote reminded me of one I heard Maya Angelou say on Oprah forever ago that I have tried to adopt for myself. "You did what you knew how to do. When you knew better you did better."

    Good to see L can get his feet wet again (*pun*)!

  7. I've found that both highs and lows can throw me completely out of whack mentally and emotionally. It's such a roller coaster! Thank you so much for posting this experience though. I know it's hard but don't beat yourself up over it. Until I read this, I hadn't really given myself the clearance for it to be "okay" for me to feel that way when my blood sugars are off, so thank you :)

  8. Meri this totally made me cry. I've seen the same with Justice, and it didn't dawn on me right away it was a bg issue.

    Please don't beat yourself up. So much we have to take into account when thinking of D and just letting our kids be kids. Its not always cut and dry.


  9. I know that for Josh, a rapid drop in blood sugar will give him "the scared feeling" - anxiety, sometimes it's almost panicky. He doesn't even have to be low. Often he's in the 200s but coming down from higher. Thanks for letting us learn along with you. Sorry you both had to go through that.

  10. Sorry that happened to you guys, it is so frustrating to be sure. Those darn lows are scary enough to begin with, I can't imagine having one in water. I love that you have such a positive attitude, it's the only way to live a happy life with D. ((Hugs))

  11. Marty has slight panic attacks too when low. But I never can tell if it's because he knows he's not supposed to be low or if it's a reaction. Glad to hear you worked with your boy to get him back in the water.

  12. Well that sheds some light on a few things. Jaxson has had his moments like this and I never put the two together. Thank you so much for sharing.

  13. That is so sad and yet so educating. Thank you for sharing and letting us learn through your experiences.

    and so happy to hear that the teacher agreed to a few more lessons!! Totally agree time to get back on that horse ;)

  14. Meri I always value your posts which invariably add to my knowledge or make me cry or both! Thank you.

  15. Meri,
    I'm so sorry for your sons experience. I'm glad that you're going to have him take more swimming lessons.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. We are all always learning more about diabetes.

  16. Oh, Meri! I'm so sorry. : ( I'm thankful you shared this with us too-I'm going to start watching. I had never thought of it amplifying her insecurities. New thing to watch for.
    I'm thrilled he is taking more lessons-you are right: you don't want that to be the last he remembers of swimming!! : ) Hugs!

  17. I'm so glad to hear that you decided to do more lessons. Likewise, you should realize that you didn't do anything wrong, this disease isn't linear. Nothing is obvious, but you still caught it-you treated it and went so far as to ask other people with diabetes how they feel when low. I am glad L is ready to jump back in and that you're willing to share this story with all of us, too.

  18. Man. I feel so let down. I mean, you were my hero! How could you make such a sophmoric mistake? I guess I have to bump Reyna up to the top of my 'D-idol' worship list. ;)

    The reminder of not getting too comfortable is the reason you will remain on the top of my lovely list, Miss Mmmmmeeerrrriiii; because you always end your writing with a fabulous point and realization.

    As much as I want you to be a D-superhero, you fly way above that when you share your struggles and realities. THAT is why I adore you.

    Now, go throw that boy in the back in the water!!!!!

  19. Oh Meri, I'm so glad you posted about this. I knew the story (since I don't mind admitting that I'm the paranoid low loser lady that everyone hates - LOL), but I so admire you for telling the whole story on your blog so others can learn what you learned. It also made me realize I have so so much more I need to blog and share. Sometimes I forget how important something can be - even something that seems an unimportant as feeling paranoid during a low. Thank you for reminding me that I need to do a better job of sharing!

  20. thanks for sharing, meri. my L feels really paranoid when she gets high. i'm so glad your L is going to go back and have some more lessons to end on a positive note.

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