September 24, 2006

Subject line: Feet

Since I began living alone again, my mom has called almost every day—so often, in fact, that when I don’t hear from her I wonder why.

She likes to keep in touch. And she wants to know how the transition is unfolding, how I’m liking the new neighborhood, whether the money part is going okay.

But mostly she calls so often because she’s haunted. She can’t shake the fear that I’ll have a nighttime hypo I can’t wake up from, no one will know I need help, and I’ll end up dead in bed.

“Just checking to see if you’re on your feet,” she often says to my answering machine, usually after calling me at the office and not getting an answer for some reason or other. Her voice—a lilting Virginian singsong that’s always signaled “home” to me, even though I’ve never lived in Virginia—sounds just a little more cheerful than necessary. “Give me a call.”

It’s been not even two years for Mrs. Violet, just as it has for me. We’re still neophytes in several respects, including how to cope with the mercurial nature of this disease. But I don’t have trouble with hypo unawareness. And I follow the drills we all know: test before bed, eat snack if needed, test during the night now and then. I watch my basals (currently 0.15 overnight, what the hell?) and tweak as needed.

I take care of myself, I’m not afraid, and I’m not about to die in my sleep. (We all have to believe that, right?) That works for me. But for a parent? Harder, much harder, it seems. And Mrs. Violet is a person for whom the wolf is always at the door.

I think I’ll begin a practice of daily morning e-mail. Subject line: feet. Text: Good morning, I’m on them, I love you.

It’s the least I can do for the one person in my life whose voice sounds like home.


  1. When I lived alone my Mum always called daily. Even now I'm living with my boyfriend I get lots of calls. It's nice, it's caring but sometimes I get tired of telling her I'M OKAY, even if it's not really true.

  2. How common is dead in bed syndrome, really?

    I lived alone for nearly ten years before getting married, and I found it glorious. I *never* had a problem with getting so low I needed medical help, and for most of that time, I tested my blood sugar pretty frequently and treated myself accordingly.

    And while I have a typical overprotective mother who worries a lot, she definitely did not call me every day. Often, yes, but not every day. And this is after raising a child with type 1 from age seven on.

  3. When my mother phones, her first sentence, tentatively is "what's new.....", which really means "is the diabetes ok"..................
    I'm in a little different situation, however, coming from an extended family of more than 30 type l's. My mother has seen many complications unfold among these people over the decades and doesn't have the optimism that I do. (And yes, she still makes that dreadful salad with diet lime jello, just for me.)

  4. Hi choco--I feel much the same way sometimes. I would also really, really like for my phone to ring and the caller be someone other than my mother :)

    L, I don't have the impression that dead in bed is common at all. This is what I mean when I refer to Mrs. Violet feeling the wolf is always at the door. Her fears are unfortunately reinforced by a friend whose husband is a type 1 with hypo unawareness and the many complexities that condition can bring.

    I've talked with her about the reasons I'm okay and expect to continue to be. It doesn't help. But I think e-mailing will.

  5. As a mom, I really appreciate your last line.

    As a daughter, I really appreciate your last line.

    Nicely stated.

  6. I have problems with reduced hypoglycemic awareness, and I have my WORST lows at night. It seems that whenever I get a handle on them, things "change" again, and I start from square one again testing basals and carb ratios. I haven't slept through the night in years because of a fear I have of not waking up if I have a hypo. I never had that fear until I stopped being able to feel my hypos until I am almost too low to help myself. I've been fortunate thus far, but it is very scary. I think that your response to your mom is awesome. My mom and I talk quite a bit, an email every day sets us straight that she is okay, and so am I.