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Monday, November 14, 2011

And This One Time, at D Camp...

I walked back to the car feeling a bit lonely.

I glanced at the empty seat behind me, and chuckled at the image in my mind of a little girl bouncing side to side, a little offbeat.

I drove home in silence, but kept hearing the sound of her voice telling me the same silly joke over and over again.

I wasn't exactly sure what to think about.  I wasn't looking at the clock, and thinking back to the time of her last bolus.  I wasn't anticipating the next number.  I wasn't thinking about how many carbs would be found on her dinner plate.

I was just driving home.

Driving home after dropping her off for a weekend of diabetes camp.

I kept wondering how the staff would know that her BG at midnight the night before was randomly 77.  I wanted to remind someone that she has celiac.  I wanted to tell someone that cereal for breakfast is a bugger, and to be on the lookout, because she's bound to have a low 2 hours later -- just because.  Because I know, that's why.

Instead, I signed her in, watched her disappear behind the dark tinted bus windows, and off she went.  There wasn't an opportunity to meet and greet the camp staff or ask questions.  It was an assembly line of paperwork, and then...farewell.

At first, I was really uncomfortable with this process.  I wanted to grab someone -- anyone -- to give them a quick rundown of every last detail regarding her management as I know it.  I wanted to download my brain, and hand them a "Manual of Sugar".

But then I realized that this camp weekend wouldn't ever happen if every parent handed the camp staff their child's manual.  A Q&A session had the potential to turn into a debate. Dragging it out could lead to an emotional breakdown -- for both the parents and the kids. This weekend needed to be more about CAMP -- having fun, making new friendships, and trying new things -- and less about diabetes -- carb counts, fingersticks, and insulin.

I needed to be the grown up.  I needed to put on my brave face, and trust that the past 6.5 years had prepared her for this moment.  I needed to exude complete confidence in her ability to do this, and the camp's ability to come alongside her to fill in any gaps that may exist.  I knew she was watching me.  I didn't want her to feel the slightest twinge of guilt or worry.  If the emotions swirling inside my heart broke through to the outside, it had the potential to set a negative tone for the rest of her weekend.

So I hugged her and blew kisses through the window, even though I couldn't see her.  I smiled, and waved, and stood in the parking lot until I couldn't see any sign of the bus any longer.

I spent the next 2 days with the camp itinerary close, constantly to checking see what she was doing at that very moment:  fishing, horseback riding, arts and crafts, archery, BG checks, meals and snacks, a magic show and carnival fun, bunking with friends...

I sat down to blog a million times, but couldn't concentrate.

I stalked Facebook and Twitter for any sign of camp pictures.

I knew she was probably having the time of her life.  

And she did.

She came home with stories about shooting a bow and arrow and popping a yellow balloon, playing cards with her friend after "lights out", having her face painted like a dalmatian, star gazing, riding a horse named "Little Man", decorating a birdhouse, sugar free cotton candy (I had no idea that was possible!)...and on, and on, and on...

I didn't ask her anything about diabetes.  Honestly, I didn't really care.  I wanted to hear her stories, see the sparkle in her eyes, and allow her childhood excitement to wrap itself around all of us.  She was energized, motivated, and deliriously happy.  She came home ALIVE in body, spirit, and mind.   Blood sugar specifics really didn't matter...all that mattered was that she had the time of her life, and couldn't wait to do it again.

This entire camp experience was available FREE OF CHARGE (!!!) to the first 20 applicants in her age group (8-11) who completed the zillion-page registration packet in its entirety, returned it (including several forms requiring physician signatures), and provided copies of a few necessary items (such as immunization records and insurance cards).  The packets had to be IN THE OFFICE...not postmarked by a certain date...literally IN THEIR HANDS to be counted. I hustled like a mad mama.  I think we were #19....two weeks after the initial email was sent back in August.

Meters, strips, insulin, sources of rapid was all provided.  In addition, a complete gluten-free menu was offered for all meals and snacks.  No one was left out (or expected to eat lettuce instead) when it came to cookies and milk before bedtime.  We literally packed clothes for the weekend, sent along 3 sets of site change supplies, and that was it.  Everything else was taken care of.

This weekend would not have have been possible without the selfless volunteers who chose to spend their Veteran's Day weekend making sure the kids were safe, and camp was running smoothly.  Doctors, CDE's, JDRF Staff, and young adults living with T1 from the community pulled together to create a most memorable experience.  In the end, there was a ratio of 1 adult for every 2 children.  That's downright amazing, if you ask me.

I'd like to express heartfelt gratitude to Camp Soaring Eagle and our JDRF Desert Southwest Chapter.  Together, these organizations coordinated an incredible camp experience that incorporated diabetes management, gluten-free needs (I think there were 4-5 campers with celiac), and a unique opportunity for children to surround themselves with other kids who face the same challenges.  How special it must have been for my daughter to feel "normal", instead of "different" for the entire weekend!

Thank you, as well, to the companies who donated supplies for the weekend:  Eli Lilly, Sanofi Diabetes, LifeScan, and NovoNordisk.  Your generosity speaks volumes about the kind of people behind your company.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

She's already asking to attend the week long diabetes camp next summer!  This experience was the perfect foundation for many camp memories that are yet to come.  I can't think of a better way to have kicked off World Diabetes Day!


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  1. I'm so happy for you/her! And I'm proud of you for letting her go and letting go a little in the process. When I look back, I'm so grateful that my mom kept her hovering to a minimum...I truly think it has made a difference in the adult (with diabetes) I am today. Good job, Momma!

  2. I am so very thrilled for her! What a wondrous first camp experience. And here's the kicker, it only gets better!!! She will have memories for a lifetime and friends for life too. You are a wonderful Mama for letting go and letting her do it. That in and of itself is a great lesson to her. So glad to hear about it. I LOVE the before and after pictures!!!

  3. So glad she enjoyed herself. And two days is just the right amount of time to test out D camp and see if she likes it. I'm sure she'll have a blast at the week long camp.

  4. I am absolutely thrilled for her --- that sounds so wonderful. I want to go. They should totally have a D Mama camp! We ocould play cards after lights out --- oh wait or we could just sleep!!

    Way to go Mama! You did great. I'm so glad I have you paving the way for me. Honestly, some of the things you said I'm not sure I would have thought about but now I'm like WOW --- I need to remember that!!

  5. That is SO AWESOME!!!! So glad she got to go. :) Now I can't wait for Adam to 3 years. :)

  6. SO HAPPY that she had a fantastic time!! and hugs and hive fives to you my friend for handling things so well...i think i would have been a sobbing lunatic

  7. I love this post! It's so hard to be a mother and "let go" sometimes, and you have every reason to want to hang onto her - but I'm so glad you were brave and she had such a good time. What a wonderful experience for both of you!

  8. look, where are my tissues????!!!
    im so happy to hear it was a success, for sugar, for you, the camping staff, the other kids.
    and i think the bit that cracked me up the most was the part where she came home and talked about ALL the fun she had. NO D talk. i love this post. one day for day we will be there.

  9. Aw! I'm glad she had a great time! I love those Type 1 shirts too!

  10. This post gives me hope and faith in myself that one day I too will be able to let go and let live! You are one awesome Mom with one awesome daughter!

  11. that sounds like an amaaaazing camp experience! yay!! also, i love the before and after pics! :)


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While I'm happy to share our experiences with what works, and what doesn't work, for the management of Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease in our house, please do not mistake anything you read here for medical advice. Decisions regarding your/your child's health care should be made only with the assistance of your medical care team. Use any information from this blog at your own risk.