I’m not a parent, so I don’t have a lot of business chiming in on a parenting thread, but I felt compelled to because what you described is exactly how I behave when I’m riding the sugar coaster. Okay, fine, maybe not to the same extremes, but pretty darned close.
If you’re not actually diabetic (and I’m assuming you’re not), the list of symptoms you’ll read about don’t adequately paint the picture of what we go through.
For low sugar, you’ll see things like “racing heart”, “sweating”, “anxiety”, “tremors”, etc… The reality is that it’s somewhere between compartment syndrome, what I imagine a really bad acid trip feels like, and a panic attack. The best way I can describe it is that you just can’t connect the dots and the world is drowning you. My head seems to function perfectly fine, thoughts may actually race faster than usual… But I just can’t get what’s in my head out of it. I can know that I need sugar, but I can’t make my muscles cooperate to get there. I can think full sentences, but I just can’t get them to my tongue. My body feels heavy, disjointed, distant, and burdensome. It’s frustrating… INFURIATING. The emotional pressure cooker is raging, and the pressure is building. I feel so awful and it pisses me off and makes me want to cry, and the pressure builds… People don’t understand what’s wrong with me. They stare and want to fix it, but I can’t explain. I just feel their eyes burning into me, and it pisses me off and makes me want to cry, and the pressure builds… And by “people”, it could just be my loving husband who DOES know and can usually tell I’m going hypo before I do, and I know he’s trying to help but his eyes still feel like they’re burning my soul, and I can’t express that I love how he cares for me but that I don’t want him to see me broken, and instead of voicing the “thank you, but I feel vulnerable” I get more frustrated, and angry, and sad, and the pressure builds… I just don’t want to be broken. I’m about to lose my s*&t. But I’ve got got to hold it together, and I’m panicing because I don’t think I can, and it pisses me off and makes me want to cry, and the pressure builds… 15 minutes. It takes 15 minutes for the sugar to work. But 15 minutes is a f’ing ETERNITY when each racing heartbeat is choking me to death, and I have no energy to spare but I’m wasting it anyway trying hold in the vibrations before they tear my whole world apart, and it pisses me off and makes me want to cry, and the pressure builds…
The medical professionals simply call that “anxiety”.
On a good day, I can turn inward, try to block out the outside world, and self-soothe until the boiling pot slows to a simmer. I’ll actually pet my face, neck, chest, and/or arms with the back of my hand. On a bad day, the pressure cooker blows it’s lid off, and it’s not a pretty thing.
The rule in our house is that I’m not allowed to fight him when he tries to help, and he’s not allowed to get mad at me for anything I say/do when I’m hypo. And trust me, it’s not easy.
And I can honestly say that as a full grown woman with 35 years more years of life experience than your son on which to draw, and 35 more years practice articulating… I KNOW you’ll only be able to empathize with a minute fraction of the physical and emotional distress I go through when hypo. If it’s so difficult for me, how can you possibly expect your 3 year old son to tell you how he’s feeling. It goes worlds beyond his limited understood emotions: happy, sad, or mad.
For high sugar symptoms, they’ll tell you “frequent urination” and “increased thirst”. What they don’t tell you is that it’s actually slowly killing us cell by cell. That the ketones produced can actually replace the bicarbonate in our cells (the pH buffer) and wreak havoc on every system. That we can’t use energy because it’s stuck in the blood instead of the cells. That since our bodies have to find another means, that painful acids build up in our muscles. We feel sluggish and tired and everything ACHES. And the thirst is actually emotionally devestating. Feels like your saliva is made of wallpaper paste, and like you’ve got paper cuts on your lips. Nothing can slick that sort of thirst. Unfortunately, high BG brings nausea, which means the only thing that can dampen your mouth’s misery, will increase your stomach’s misery.
Your three year old can’t understand all that, though. All he knows is that he feels sick. I bet you get crabby, too, when you’ve got the flu.
And guess what, the numbers don’t tell the full story, either. Even when they look in-range, he could still be feeling symptoms of highs or lows. It’s all relative to the crazy glucose roller coaster. I’ve had days where I felt sky high, but turns out I wasn’t close. I’ve had days where I felt terriby hypo in the 200’s because I was coming down from a 400, and I’ve had a lot of days where I just flat out didn’t know I was high or low. It just doesn’t all fit into the perfect box.
Now take alllllll that, and put the “he’s at an age that drives EVERY mother of EVERY child crazy” cherry on top of the sundae.
I sympathize for you, though. I know it has to be hard. And I feel like you must be one hell of a mother to be so engaged and looking for answers. It may not always feel like it, but I promise you’re doing the right thing. Have you found any other T1 parents in your area? Sounds like you need a support group… and a babysitter that’s fully in the D know. Those would be really good friends to have right now so you can escape and socialize for your sanity, without adding more stress to your little man. Maybe you both just need a good scream when he’s acting that way. Do it! Maybe he needs other creative ways to express what he’s feeling if he can’t find the words, like drawing pictures, or acting things out with sock puppets. Maybe he needs something he’s allowed to pummel when his little pressure cooker is boiling over, like a bean bag chair, but teach him that is the only acceptable place to blow off his steam. I think I remember my nephew having a little tykes punching bag contraption.
I wish you lots of good patience, because you need that a lot more right now than luck!