It’s funny because I don’t remember the morning or afternoon as it occurred, I don’t even feel that I remember the lead up to the event. There were messages delivered to myself, parents, and people around me that we just didn’t clue onto.
Little had myself, my mother, father or brother noticed but probably in that year, at the young age of 8 (1995, I was in grade 3 at the time) my body had been going through some changes. All of these changes were physical, one was evident to people who did not see me often, and the other was invisible to everyone including myself.
Looking back now, there are signs and symptoms that made sense.
The first one (not in sequential order) happened like this… It was time to read our books, I grabbed one of my favourite horse books (Go on, please tell me which young girls are not in love with horses. For me this was an obsession) from the pile and started to read the hard covered, off white pages with associated pictures throughout. The book what black and white, perhaps it was sepia. It would talk about the breeds of horses, events, and relevant pictures every second page or thereabouts.
As I read page by page, I would have to put the book down as my eyes were starting to strain and it was getting hard to read. As I would feel my eyes start to lose focus I’d think to myself “Urgh, come on, just make it to the end of the page and turn, then, read the next one”. I’m not too sure why this moment resonated so strongly with me, either it was the book that I was reading, or my eyes had started to feel a pressure in a stronger manner than ever before. Either way the moment of blurred vision, hazed sight, and annoyance at my inability to continue reading the whole thing has etched its way into my memory. To this day, the same sensations happen; my eyes blur and I have to re-focus. Only now I have an understanding as to why this happens.
The second was the nicknames. They were never rude or insulting, and I never felt like they were having a go at me, yet they were always along he same
“Bags of Bones”
“Ribs on the Run”
Sensing trend here? That’s right, all in relation to my body shape, all making mention as to how small I was. Everyone who knew me saw it, the thin body of mine, the dainty wrists and the slender limbs. My neighbours noticed more as they didn’t see me as often. Given my family saw me every day they didn’t see the change as dramatically as others. And because it was a slow change, there was no dramatic need to go and consult with anyone.
The third was the depleted energy, the lethargy, the tiredness, the slow moving body that wore me down… and yet I was petite? How could moving my frame take so much energy out of me? I wasn’t quite aware myself of how little energy I had. I was never fast as a kid, I was in the second slowest running group for sports, and any other sport was fine, I just got puffed quicker than I expected. But then again I guess it was normal to me, I didn’t notice, it was just something that was happening to me and I went along with it.
My brother and I used to ride our bikes to school, it wasn’t far from home only 1 kilometer which is extremely close come to think of it. It was great, not that my brother and I talked during these times, we just rode together and went our separate ways. He made a comment one day either when we were going to school, or when we came home. He was having a whinge about me, complaining about his little sister – but what’s new there; big brothers always whinge about their little sister. It was about the time it took for me to ride my bike.
“She’s so slow mum, a bee can fly faster than her!”
Was loosely the comment he made.
A bee?? Faster than me! You’re kidding right?
Well, it makes sense. The lack of muscle on my small frame, the minimal energy I had was probably spent just getting on the bike. How I didn’t want to stop half way and have a rest, I’m not too sure.
It’s strange when I think about it, it’s not the lethargy I recall yet the comment from my brother that made it all seem more real.
And fourth; the insatiable thirst and hunger. Talk about a starving child – you would think my mother never fed me. I was eating two lunches to every other child’s one, I was drinking so much water I could drain Niagra Falls, I would come home and eat a roll (I loved the ham and cheese rolls) before it was dinner. Going back to sign / symptom number three; I was consuming this much ‘fuel’ and yet I was still weak and thin?
It was normal though (right?) I was 8, I was having growth spurts, I needed all this food to sustain my growing and developing body. It wasn’t unnatural and I wasn’t getting fat, so obviously it wasn’t a bad thing at all. Oh how much we didn’t know at this point.
I was eating like a maniac, give me all the food! I remember I had a distinct liking for carbs, I love my rolls and sandwiches. They didn’t hve to be fancy, vegemite (promite back then) was my absolute favourite. I know a lot of you think it tastes and looks like tar but that was my weakness.
Then came the thirst, I always had a water bottle with me at school. It was my safe companion, always by my side, insulated to keep the water cool and a straw for me to drink from. It was my brother who noticed it always by my side and told my parents.
“What’s the big deal?”
“Everyone has a water bottle”
And I shrugged it off.
Dad signed me up (with my approval) to play minkey one year (little human’s version of hockey), you’d play two halves and in between have a break where you would go to the canteen and get some cordial. Good old cordial at kids events to replenish liquids and some sugars for energy that was being expended.
I guzzled that cordial down. One after the other, I just couldn’t seem to get enough hydration during my waking hours. Ultimately the amount I was drinking had to come out, so I would frequent the toilet.
My parents’ room was right next to mine at their house and mum was starting to notice the number of times I would get up at night. It was strange, it was happening more and more often. One day she decided to make me get a pen and paper, keep it next to my bed on my dressing table and put a dash down each time I would get up at night time.
I did this for a few nights and you know what I was averaging? 5! I toilet trips in one night… Now I don’t know about you but these days I go once, if any times at all!
The blurred vision
The weight loss, and jovial nick names
The lethargy and fatigue
The hunger, thirst, and constant urination
It was all written in front of us (more specifically mum and dad) but none of us were aware of the signs and symptoms, none of us knew to put them all together and look at it from a holistic point of view…