Live Below the Line, Day 3

01May13
English: "Malnourishment in Niger" M...

English: “Malnourishment in Niger” Malnourished children in Niger, during the 2005 famine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, I just feel tired all the time, and so hungry I could eat just about anything, and a lot of it. Right now, I just want to lie down and sleep forever. I’m finding that I’m crankier than usual also, like I haven’t been sleeping well. Maybe I haven’t been. According to the U.K. Health Center, hunger can affect how well you sleep. I wonder, do people who have to live this way indefinitely also have sleep problems, problems with their moods, problems with constant fatigue? I’m sure they do. You don’t really realize just how much the food you eat, and whether you get enough food or not, can affect how you function just day to day until you find it harder because your body’s not getting what it needs.

As I end Day 3, I find myself astounded at what it must mean for the severely impoverished to survive like this. This isn’t eating, or living, this is subsisting, and barely even that. After enough of this, you start to suffer the true effects of malnutrition. People who suffer from chronic malnutrition might develop scurvy and tooth decay, heart problems, kidney problems, find their mental capacity diminished, develop osteoporosis and see their muscles atrophy, even with physical activity, as their bodies burn whatever they can find inside to keep going. Severe cases of malnutrition, which come with actual starvation, also see swollen bellies and other serious problems. Most of us have seen pictures of starving children looking like that.

The lack of calories can make it so that if you do too much, you pass out. Or at least I can…honestly, for those that live in extreme poverty, they may have ways of dealing with the lack of calories and nutrients, or they may be used to it, or they may just pass out when they do too much. I haven’t been able to find much info about that (but maybe I haven’t looked in the right places). I’m a cyclist, who knows that she can’t go ride anymore this week because there’s just nothing there to work with.

It’s only for two more days for me. I’ve lost a pound and a half, but I suspect some of that’s water, as I’m sure I’m dehydrated despite drinking more water than usual. The lack of sufficient food means I’m not getting all of the water my body’s used to. I’ve noticed that because of increased thirst, but I’m sure dehydration is present anyway. Always, always, always in the back of my mind, regardless of what I’m doing or thinking, whether I’m eating or not, is the fact that on Saturday morning, I’m done, but the impoverished are not. That thought never goes away. I’m amazed by the choices I have that they don’t, by the luxuries that many of us in the developed world would consider necessities, that the impoverished don’t have and maybe can’t conceive of ever having.

I watched a video earlier today of a Florida state lawmaker blasting her fellow lawmakers about defunding Planned Parenthood, because she gave birth when she was so poor she had to call an ambulance when she went into labor, because she couldn’t afford a cab or a bus, let alone drive herself, to the hospital. She raised her kids in poverty and knows what it’s like to feed them mayonnaise sandwiches and Ramen, because you can’t afford anything else, not even on food stamps. Her kids didn’t often get fresh fruits and veggies because they were too expensive for her. Things that her children needed to grow properly were things she couldn’t get because she was too poor.

That’s just one example here in the U.S., in one of the wealthiest nations in the world. What’s it like in the poorest? What’s it really like? Those women give birth in terrible conditions, and can’t feed their children more than the barest scraps, less often than every day. Their children frequently die very young. I’m hungry, but I’m not actually starving. Even here in the U.S., we see starvation and malnutrition when we shouldn’t.

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