Thursday, May 26, 2011

A forgotten memory

I had a completely forgotten memory come rushing back to me the other night and I've been meaning to share it with all of you.  As I crept into Lily's room to do a midnight bg check, I happened to notice that her breathing was was rapid and shallow.  I knew just by seeing her chest rise and fall in that pattern that something was off.  And that's when the memory popped back up....

When I was 17, I applied to be a counselor-in-training at Camp Needlepoint (MN and WI camp for diabetic children).  It just so happens that the timing of that coincided with the timing of my mother's decision to have my younger sister go visit her biological father for a week or so (complicated story there).  So, she drove us both down to the cities and dropped us off at the apartment that my younger sister's father and his new wife shared.  These people were essentially strangers to me, but they agreed to have me spend the night and drop me off at the camp the next morning.  Luckily, we were dropped off at the apartment later in the evening and the camp opened first thing in the morning!  But that still left the night to get through.  And that's where the connection the middle of the night, after I had fallen asleep, the wife come into the room, shook my shoulder, and told me she'd noticed my breathing pattern change and thought my blood sugar must be low.  I don't know how she figured that out or why it would have occurred to her, but I was grateful.  Creeped out by the idea that she was listening to me breathe, but still, grateful.  I was a whole lot shyer and quieter back then and I can't imagine that I would have been comfortable raiding their kitchen if I'd woken up on my own.  She brought me a glass of juice and a few crackers and cheese and then let me go back to sleep once I'd finished it all.

I've never seen this mentioned anywhere else and who knows if anyone would have thought to mention it.  Breathing patterns are such a small detail that we rarely think about, aren't they?  And obviously, when your children are running around, exerting themselves, and taking life on, it won't do you any good to pay attention to their breathing pattern.  But, in those moments when you're tip-toeing to your child's bed, preparing to steal a drop of blood and watching the 5-second countdown, if you take a moment to notice their breathing, it just might clue you in to what kind of a number will pop up on that screen.  The little clues that the body shows us are so amazing sometimes!


  1. I pay attention to her breathing every night. It's the first sign I look for when I walk in...

    This is a really sweet story...even if the roots come from a weird place.

    And, trust me, I know ALL about weird family places!

  2. Wow, definitely a sweet story. The woman sounds like she was on top of making sure you were safe while under her charge. too. I look at the breathing first. Sadly, it is just to make sure that there is actually breath going in and out. It immediately puts my mind at ease. The rest, I know I can handle.

  3. Yeah, what Reyna said, for sure.

  4. I am with Reyna, I don't look for changes but just the ease of mind she is alive and well. Scarey that we aven have to contemplate this on a daily basis. Thanks for lovely post.

  5. Interesting...hadn't thought about breathing being an indicator. Just another thing to add to the list of things to look for...the more indications the better!