Maybe one of the easiest symptoms to talk about, but quite possibly the most difficult one to navigate is blood sugar. Kids with Lyme disease often struggle more than other children to keep their blood sugar level. Remember the years of the preschooler or toddler when your child needed to eat a healthy high protein snack every 2-3 hours? This is the same with many kids battling Lyme.
Here Comes the Protein Police
Having my own children with Lyme disease makes me sometimes feel like I am the "food police". It can be difficult for kids to watch everyone else eat whatever they want and whenever they want and not be able to do the same. If the ice cream truck comes to the pool and I give my kids ice cream the first thing I am thinking isn't..."Wow what a summer memory, this is very sweet" it's more like... "I want the kids to have this normal summer memory of getting ice cream from the ice cream truck, but what will it cost us today? Did they have a high enough protein snack before we left? Will it be enough to counter the sugar? Will we get an hour or two of good times and good feelings while the kids burn up their calories AND eat sugar without protein?" I often find myself saying no when I really wish I could just say yes. "Yes, you can have a normal childhood and eat normal childhood foods. You can develop sweet summer memories and not worry." Because they ARE too young to worry. In my mind I am thinking, A snack size bag of potato chips needs to be balanced with some cheese. Maybe if he drinks milk with those cookies....peanut butter goes with everything...beans, lunch meat, cocoa covered nuts, protein bars, low glycemic shakes.There are so many things to have in the food tool box. So many angles to consider and so much balancing to think about.
Why Monitor SO Much? What Does it Matter?
If you have ever had a child rage from unbalanced blood sugar, then you know exactly why. A blood sugar rage is like none other. Tears, hatred, rage, biting, kicking screaming are all popular symptoms of a blood sugar fit. The child who you know in your heart loves you suddenly hates you and wants you dead. Before I knew of the power of blood sugar, these fits happened in our house all the time.
I didn't know that when my child morphed into a fire breathing dragon there was a specific fixable medical reason for it. When we learned this, my husband and I approached the rages differently. I entered the room of my screaming, biting thrashing child with a spoonful of peanut butter or a tasty protein bar. We stashed unperishable protein treats in the car, in the pool bag, in my purse. We were the ones buying protein bars in bulk. But we also learned not to be so reactive. We learned how to be the "protein police" and keep their blood sugar level so it didn't have as many opportunities to careen out of control.
When you learn this, it is a gift. When you realize that burning up calories on the soccer field can make them crash on the way home you can help avoid it. You avoid sugary electrolyte drinks and substitute the electrolyte water instead. You eat cheese sticks or drink low glycemic protein drinks on the way to the pool. You make sure ALL meals are high in protein or you balance it an hour later with protein. Pancake syrup is replaced with peanut butter or agave syrup. The list goes on.
Empowering Your Child, Empowering Your Family
Children can be brought into the circle of understanding and can be taught what it feels like when their blood sugar is unbalanced. Learning how their bodies tick can be rewarding, but bigger than this, is the new knowledge that there really isn't something inherently wrong with them, but there is a reason for the rages. You aren't the only ones who hate the fits. They do too and often begin to hate themselves for being out of control and so angry and mean. When you all understand what the signs and symptoms are and you all communicate as a family about it, it minimizes the collateral damage and helps you all become a team with yet another really difficult symptom of Lyme disease. The more you know, the more power you have. The more information your whole family has, the more powerful you can all be together.
I remember the day my 10 year old finally got it. We were getting ready to walk the dog when she became a little whiny and a bit weepy. She turned to me and said, "Mom, I think I should go back home. My blood sugar is crashing and I need a protein bar". Wow. The power of knowledge for her to not only know how to listen to her body but also to know what to do with the information.
Experiment and Get a Plan Together
So gear up. Try out different protein avenues. See what the kids will eat in a crisis and what you can have on hand to keep them level. Fill your bags, purses and glove boxes and feel empowered because now you have yet another tool to help you child navigate a difficult yet very doable disease.
If you feel you can identify with the information in this article, please consult your Lyme literate doctor to be sure this is in fact what is going on with your child. This article is not meant to be diagnostic in nature but rather informative tools to help you and your doctor assist your child. Please feel free to comment or post questions. This blog is for you!
Gabrielle Anderson is the Director and a Therapist at the Family Therapy Center of Northern Virginia, llc in Ashburn, Virginia, a family friendly community in Loudoun County. She and the rest of the clinicians at the center can be contacted directly from the Meet the Team section on the company website.
Unless specified, Gabrielle Anderson, lmft is the author of these posts. Gabrielle is a Therapist and the Director at FTC. She is a married mother of 2 and has experienced chronic infection in the practice, herself and in her family.
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