Tuesday, 30 September 2008
It's a term normally associated with diabetes. But it does happen to those who don't eat. The human body needs carbohydrates in order to survive - feed the brain; feed the muscles. I know this. I did an A' level in Human Biol.
My mother is insulin-dependent diabetic. She was diagnosed when I was around 11 or 12. She was vicious when 'hypo'. The first time we witnessed it, the household awoke to her screaming in agony due to the cramps. I thought she had gone mad; my father didn't know what to do; and the only person she called for, repeatedly, was my brother. She was bundled off into an ambulance and 'stabilised' at the hospital. We became inured to it in some ways. We could tell when she wasn't looking after herself - she'd go and treat herself to some delicacy from the bakery, cheat her insulin and then fall flat after these 'fast carbs' had been eaten away by the extra insulin with which she had injected herself. She always used to tell me she would rather I succumbed to cancer than to diabetes.
I recall one night, waking up at around 3am and seeing the kitchen light on from my bedroom window. I went downstairs and saw her making a hot drink. Into it, she was ladling margarine. I didn't stop her - I was only about 13 then and just thought this was some weird way of bringing her out of her hypo, but when she took a mouthful and gagged, I realised she had got mixed up.
She never wanted anyone but my brother when she was very low. She would literally howl for him. I would run to her to hug her and she would push me away abruptly, begging for Paul. I know she wasn't in a compos mentis state of mind, so I definitely do not bear her any ill will for this.
When I returned from Oman in 2003, I used to suffer hypos a lot. And I have suffered 'the real' ones, too, from having injected myself with my mother's insulin as a teenager in order to do away with myself. So I know what they are like. The less you eat and the more you work, the less you can function.
The ex had advised me, by phone from Oman, that I could have monies to pay the mortgage and utilities and that was it. The rest of the monies I had to find myself. So he was living in a rent-free villa, with all expenses paid apart from his clothes and food, on a tax-free salary of around £45,000 (US$90,000) and I had to get a job to feed and clothe me and the girls. As the girls were so young (8 and 6), and I was guilt-tripped by Mother into NOT getting an office job, I went out to clean other people's houses, iron their clothes and work as a dinner lady at the local High School. I have to confess my snobbery here and admit that it felt very ignominious at times. I had been a successful journalist and editor, and now I was scrubbing other people's toilets. But, sod it, I am not that proud when the chips are down.
I was probably cleaning for six hours each day as well as doing two hours at the school. The ironing was delivered to my door every other night and I would get up at 5am to do it. Now, I am not wallowing in self-pity here. I am simply stating what I was up to. That's all. Some days, I would get so stuck into the cleaning that I felt simply marvellous - seeing a gleaming house is something worth stepping back from and saying, Great! That looks bloody good! (And I got paid for it!)
But because I wasn't eating - and I think this was probably the start of the anorexia proper, moving from the bulimia which had plagued me over the previous years - I did start to feel somewhat washed out at nights and weekends. And one weekend it took its toll and I passed out in our local supermarket, Asda (Walmart). I keeled over, fell to my knees and blacked out.
I remember coming to on a public bench in the shop with staff hovering over me and trying to placate the girls with colouring books, sweets, cakes etc. I was utterly bewildered and disoriented. One lady, Wendy, wanted to take me to the local hospital, but I refused and told her I would be more than fine. So she drove me home in my car - we still chat now whenever I go into the shop and she is always kindness itself.
I told the ex over the phone and he grunted.
He was due to return to the UK on leave within a few days. He took the girls up to see his sister in Yorkshire and I decided not to go - for personal reasons (i.e. his sister was a condescending woman who enjoyed nothing better than to belittle me when wearing her D & G/Armani/Gucci/Versace clothes and skitting me for shopping at Second Hand Shops). The girls told me when they returned that they had felt sickened at their laughter at me passing out at Asda. He had related the incident to his sister, C, and they had fallen about laughing when he stated, She f*cking doesn't eat, what the f*ck does she expect, silly, f*cking b*tch!
And this was the man who had promised me we would make 'it work'.
As I write all of this, it does read back like wallowing in self-pity. But please believe me, I am not. I actually feel quite stalwart! I actually can read it and think: Well, you git! You purported to love me and did this?! I am well rid of you, matey!
That's truly what I am feeling - I don't want any sympathy. These are just facts - not 'please-like-me-and-feel-sorry-for-me statements'.
But in a roundabout way, what I am trying to say is that my behaviour, without carbs, is erratic. I forget so much, short-term memory-wise. I stagger and slur at times because I am not up to speed. I wake up in a 'swamp' of perspiration from the night sweats, and the cramps are very painful at times, let alone the lack of circulation wherein I have to plunge my hands into the sink full of hot water.
But honestly, I can, actually, see a light at the end of the tunnel. I think this is actually the first 'Memory' post wherein I don't feel sad - I feel quite detached. I am just getting it down. If it offends anyone, I apologise. But what is a blog, if not a journal of thoughts and memories? It can be used for vanity, catharsis, antagonism...many things. Mine is used for catharsis. And that's it.
And that's all for today!