We were in Forever 21 when it happened.
My mom had decided to take me on a trip to the mall to simultaneously celebrate my homecoming for the summer and my birthday. We were both looking forward to the day, because it blended together our favorite things: shopping, pedicures, and time with each other.
Over the years, my enthusiasm for shopping has lessened. I’m assuming this is due to the fact that, for the most part, I don’t have money to spare. A part of growing up is realizing that money should be saved for the necessities, like tuition for school and gas for my car. As a result, I didn’t drag my mother to every single store like I would have when I was little. Instead, we went to a select handful. When we were about four stores into our list, I started to feel a little dizzy and shaky.
I was in the dressing room of Forever 21 when I started to feel low. I emerged from the dressing room and announced to my patiently waiting mother that this store had been a miss, and since we were exiting, we should find a place to sit so I could test my blood sugar.
We found a couch to sit on and I pulled out my kit. Sure enough, I had dropped to 66. I figured this was because we were doing a great deal of walking around the mall. My mother immediately went into treatment mode, and ordered me to eat some glucose tablets so my blood sugar could go up as quickly as possible. In response, I made my I’m-not-amused face at her, partially because I was irritated about being low, but also because I was somewhat frustrated with her forcefulness concerning my treatment. I reminded her that I’m away at school for a good chunk of the year. During that time, I have no one to rely on but myself to take care of my lows, highs, and everything in between. I explained to her that I’d appreciate it if she could remind herself of this in situations like these.
Grudgingly, she nodded. She told me that as my mother, she’s always going to be worried in these situations. She knows that I can handle them, but she is also fully aware of what it’s like to be low as she’s a type 1 diabetic herself. She knows that it can be disorienting and dangerous if treatment isn’t administered straightaway.
All this talk about low blood sugars convinced my mother to test her own while we were sitting down. By strange coincidence, she was 68. I knew it wasn’t exactly a laughing matter, but I fired back all the advice she had been giving me moments before about getting some glucose or a snack from her purse.
I couldn’t help but giggle at the ironic nature of the situation. Together, my mother and I had reached a new low.
In a haze, we made the short walk to Dunkin Donuts to buy a snack to split to boost our sugars a bit more so we could make it through the rest of our shopping trip. We found an item on the menu that was relatively low carb so it wouldn’t skewer our blood sugars too much. Once we fully recovered, we made our way to the nail salon so we could treat ourselves to relaxing pedicures.
As we enjoyed being pampered, I couldn’t help but think about what it’s like to be the diabetic daughter of a diabetic mother. We are a diabetic duo. I know a few other people who have a diabetic parent, but in my situation, it’s different because I have diabetes, too. I am all too aware of the realities that come with diabetes. I know what it’s like to feel the frustrations associated with being pricked by needles every day. I know what it’s like to feel a low coming on, and how they always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times. I know firsthand that diabetes sucks.
That being said, my perspective makes me feel like my mother sometimes in terms of constantly worrying. I feel like I am always going to worry about her, even though she knows what she’s doing. She’s had diabetes twice as long as I have, and has proven that she is more than capable of taking care of herself. She’s allowed to make the occasional mistake every now and then, because these mistakes help her learn and improve her treatment methods. As long as I remind myself of this, coping with my mother’s diabetes as well as my own will be much easier.
While I don’t think I can ever totally dispel my concerns over my mother’s health, I know that I can support her as her teammate as we overcome the daily challenges of diabetes together.
Next week, my mother will appear as a guest blogger here and write about her perspective. I would like to invite you all to read about it from her point of view, and hear her story.