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.
(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!)