A couple of weeks ago I couldn't stand the thought of my kitchen, so we walked through our little town to a burger place in an alley. We eat there once in a while, and always manage to nearly fill the place up, it's so tiny, with a few stools in front of and beside the grill, and a couple of small tables across the alley. Big van buses go by every so often, forcing everyone standing on the street to press against the edges and suck their guts in.
We got our food and sat eating in our various places. Kai had picked up a few of the yummy Schweppes lemon sodas that we all like, from the nearby 7-11. He ran back and sat down, ready to eat. There are photos on the wall of people eating at the burger place, and Kai jumped up to point out one that clearly had him pictured in it.
Then he said, “I feel really bad.”
I turned and saw that his face was gray and sweaty, so I jumped up and grabbed him, and he sort of sank in my arms and then got panicky, saying “Mama! Daddy! Mama! Daddy!” Chinua was with us holding him as well by this time, and then Kai’s eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped completely. He had sweat all over his face.
I’m going to stop here and say that when something like this happens completely out of the blue, an observer might be able to say, “Your son has fainted.” But when you are the parent? Deep and awful panic sets in. Your first thought is, “We’re losing him!” Chinua and I unashamedly starting shouting “Hospital!” Like calling “Police!” only we were calling “Hospital!”. Kai was still out, and Chinua was holding him, trying to get him to respond. A nearby Thai woman and her father stepped in to help.
“We have a car,” they said. “We can get him to the hospital.”
The man came and started talking to Kai, and Chinua was trying to keep him awake as well. I actually have no idea what I was doing or saying. I seemed to be out of my body and with Kai. I think I was helping him, wiping his face, talking to him, but when I remember back, I only see him and can’t remember me.
Kai came to, and at the advice of a young German couple across the street we laid him down and put his feet on one of the stools. It started to look like Kai had simply fainted, (sorry, Kai would like me to call it passing out) so the kind woman called a local clinic, asking whether they were open. When it turned out that they were, Chinua ran home to get our scooter so they could drive over to the clinic.
I stood with Kai, who was still lying in the middle of the floor with his legs up on one of the stools. I wiped his face with a wet towel, that's what you do, you know, when people have passed out. He seemed fine at this point, though still a little weak. Kenya was fluttering around feeling embarrassed about the fact that we were causing a scene. “Can’t we move him off the floor?” she asked in a fierce whisper. Kai, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy making the scene quite a bit, now that he was feeling better.
When Chinua came with the scooter, the Thai lady went with him and Kai to the clinic, to show Chinua where it was, and when Chinua entered with her, he discovered that she was a Thai TV star and that everyone knew her. It explained her crystal clear, perfect Thai. Having her help us was like fainting in England and having David Attenborough take care of you and help you to the clinic.
We were a bit mystified and confused about why Kai had passed out at all. But the next day, when I looked in the freezer and found that about half a bag of chocolate chips was missing, it all became more clear. Kai has been hypoglycemic since he was a baby. I don’t remember him ever waking up without crying until he got food or a snack, he was always miserable after a nap until he ate. And one thing that can happen with hypoglycemia is a sugar craving, then a sharp spike after eating sugar, and a big crash if nothing else follows the sugar. He had eaten so much sugar that he crashed hard enough to lose consciousness.
That is all. He was and is fine.
This all mirrors events in my childhood so closely that it is a little uncomfortable, remembering. I never did faint, but had extreme sugar cravings and similar chocolate thievery. Even into adulthood I have to be very careful to eat before I go shopping, so I don't end up with Oreos in my cart. And oh, I'm so glad Kai is okay. We're working on keeping him topped up, to lessen those crazy sugar impulses.