Sunday, July 29, 2007

Back To Diabetes Camp

We got home late Thursday night.

And as much as I'd love to tell you all about the road trip, I'm gonna have to save that for the next post (maybe the next two posts-- because really, it was that good).

In the meantime, we're back in the van, driving the two (relatively) short hours to diabetes camp-- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows wide open on my lap.

Still hoarse from reading aloud 524 pages during the long ride home from Massachusetts-- I'm back at it.

You see, we'd love to finish the book before Joseph gets to camp -- where someone is bound to have read it.

Probably several someones.


Who like to talk.

But there's just no way-- we've got over 200 pages to go.

Still, I keep reading. The book is awesome, and it helps keep my mind off of what happened last night...


Joseph goes to a birthday party.

He eats a burger, tater tots; cake and candy.

He gives himself three boluses of insulin in two hours.

Later, just after midnight, his blood sugar is 80.

Nothing scary there.

Except that he's dropped almost a hundred points in an hour.

Three glucose tablets.

And then, a little Potter while we wait for the sugar to stop the slide.

Only it doesn't.

Fifteen minutes later, we check again.



"Another three, Bud?"

"No-- four," he says.

Quickly, he crunches away at the large tabs.

Then, oblivious to the dusting of sugary powder on his lips and chin, he asks in a small voice:

"Mom, can I lay next to you?"


So I let him climb into bed between me and Ryan while I continue reading aloud. His head rests heavily on my shoulder. And I can't seem to get my mouth around the words in front of me.

I keep messing up.

After a few minutes, I stop reading altogether.

"Honey, do you feel like you're coming up?"

"No... not really... Mom, just keep reading."

What if he doesn't come up? What if...

But thankfully -- eventually -- he does.

Thirty-five minutes and seven glucose tabs after that first check, he bounces up to 118.

He's okay.

But that doesn't stop my mind from racing.

What if this happens at camp-- and, my God, what if they don't catch it?


So here I am the next morning, sitting in the van-- reading again.

Trying very hard to stay calm.

It helps that Joseph is so relaxed, so happy to be returning to camp for the third time.

I keep this in mind when later I'm seated in a large, comfortable chair opposite Joseph's cabin nurse-- a kind-looking, older woman with snowy white hair and brilliant blue eyes.

She tells me her grandson has type 1.

"Is he here-- at camp?" I ask.

"Yes," she says, eyes sparkling, "oh- but he's in another cabin."

Then we talk about Joseph-- I explain that he needs to be checked overnight, showing her the letter from his doctor.

"Well, actually, the camp director thought that checking him at midnight would be enough- "

"No," I say quickly, "that won't be enough-- he's got to be checked at least twice. Joseph can go to bed with a stable sugar-- even a high sugar -- and crash in the middle of the night. And he never feels it when he's sleeping. Never. And if he goes high, someone needs to get him up to use the bathroom."

I try to keep my voice steady-- not to panic.

"I see... well... " and then she lowers her voice, continuing in an almost conspiratorial tone, "Joseph's nurse from last year spoke with me about him this morning, and well, she thought it best we check him at midnight, then just come around and check him again at 2:30-- do you think that would be all right?"

"Yes- yes-- that would be great," I tell her, not even attempting to hide my relief.

"I understand," she says, giving my hand several pats. "He'll be fine. Just fine."

And for a few minutes, I'm sure she's right-- but then I remember what we were told at check in: that all of Joseph's cabin mates from the previous two summers were assigned to a different cabin.

He would be starting fresh-- meeting his bunk mates for the first time.

Well, all except one.

Standing in the doorway, I see that he's chosen the bunk next his friend's-- the boy he'd encouraged to come to camp for the very first time.


"Hey, I brought a ton of clothes-- probably overpacked," Tommy calls to Joseph-- as he hoists a large, bulging duffel bag onto his bunk.

"Me too," says Joseph with a reassuring smile, while struggling to unzip his own tightly packed duffel.

Moments later, the two boys head down to the lake.

"Do they have basketball here?" Tommy asks.

"Nah, but they have a mud pit," Joseph tells him.

They walk on -- away from me and Ryan and Evan.

The whole time, talking and laughing.

About what, I can only guess.


Nicole P said...

Sandra -

This post brought me to tears. Oh, how I know that frustration of a bloodsugar that won't come up. But I don't know the struggle it must be to turn the reins of Joseph's care over to someone else - and to try to feel confident that they'll do everything just as it needs to be done. That must be an incredible struggle.

But also - how I know the joy of arrival at camp - which, when I was Joseph's age - was the BEST place in all of the world. And that feeling of seeing old friends and meeting new ones - and showing someone the ropes... Nothing quite compares.

It was so good to meet you - I'm going to get a reply off to you earlier from your email - but let's just say Joseph's reaction to our meeting pretty much made my whole day. :)


Shannon said...

I'm relieved to see that they're going to check him overnight. I know that was one of your concerns.

It was great meeting you and your family. It all went better than I could've expected :)

I had a fun time talking to you. I wish we all lived closer together. It's a shame we live so far away when we got along so well together.

Carey said...

Your posts are like a good book you just can't put down.

I can feel your fear of the overnights. Thank goodness they will check him again at 2:30.

"Nah, but they have a mud pit." That's awesome!

Penny said...


I remember reading about Jospeh and diabetes camp the last 2 years. I remember that he always has a great time.

But, I also remember that last year he ran high during the night and had some accidents.

It sounds like this year hopefully they will have him covered.

I think you're great for letting him go. I'm not sure I'll be able to ever let Riley go. Maybe one day. I'm not sure.

And, those stupid lows that won't come up are the worst, especially when they come at night time.

Riley was 64 the other day and got his usual treatment. About 10 mintues later he said "My sugar feels low" and sure enough it was 43. Ugh!!

Sandra Miller said...


Your description of camp -- that enthusiasm -- brought to mind something that happened Sunday morning.

While standing in line at camp registration, I struck up a conversation with the family in front of us.

"Is this your son's first time here?" I asked the mom.

"Oh yes," she said, turning to face me.

That's when I saw that she, her husband, and son -- all of them -- wore the same deer-in-the-headlights expression.

Before I could launch into a litany of reassurances, Joseph began speaking excitedly:

"This is my third year, and it's awesome! Seriously-- the only really great thing about having diabetes is that you get to come to camp!"

Then, as the boy's parents stood watching, visibly more relaxed -- even beaming -- Joseph and their son talked about all of the cool stuff they were gonna get to do.

Yes, I think you're right, Nicole-- camp is the BEST place in the world!

Oh, and again, I can't tell you how wonderful it was to finally get to meet you!


Yes- my only serious concern about camp is those overnights... fingers-crossed, things go as well as they did last year.

I had a great time talking with you, too. And my family will LOVE to read your comment about our living so far away-- they've been lobbying for us to move back east for years... :-)



I agree-- thought the mud pit response was brilliant. :-)


Last year actually worked out well, for the most part-- it was his first year that was really rough with the overnights...

I'm hoping it'll just keep getting better as they get to know Joseph each year.

When Riley is old enough to go to camp, I think you'll feel differently.

I still remember thinking that I could never put Joseph on a school bus when, during his kindergarten year, I discovered that in third grade he would have to take a bus across town to go to school.

He was just so little.

But then he was in third grade-- and a lot bigger.

And he couldn't imagine not riding the bus with his friends.

And I couldn't imagine not letting him. :-)

Cara said...

Wow. I am the child with diabetes that grew up. My poor mother.... Reading just gives me a little bit of an insight into what my mother must have been through in some of my growing up years. Bless you. It takes a special mother to raise a diabetic child.

Lydia said...

Hi it was nice meeting you at camp. If another Harry Potter book does come out call me, we get them on CD for Alex and I to listen to on car rides. Alex left for Boy Scout camp with dad yesterday. Dad had to come home to work until Wed. It is the first time he will be at camp without one of us there. I am nervous. I know he takes good care of his diabetes but I am scared that nobody at the camp is well trained in type 1 diabetes care.
Give Joseph a hug for me, I miss his smiling face!

Laura Kockelkorn said...

when are you updating again? I miss your posts!

Jeff Dietz said...

Wow, have I learned a lot just by reading your post of July 29, 2007.

I started Camp Possibilities, a camp for children with diabetes from Delaware and Maryland, however I don't have diabetes myself. I do have a niece with diabetes, but beyond having deep empathy for her and other children with this viscous disease, I don't have much first hand experience. Therefore, your comments have enlightened me, from a frsh perspective, as to how concerned/worried, etc... a parent must be leaving their child with us. Particularly when there is a situation such as your specifications for having your son'd bg checked throughout the night. It must be entirely frightening to entrust others to handle this for you. I honestly don't know how you do it.

Anyway, I've learned to be much more receptive and sensitive to listening to our parents. Thanks for your help.

Jeff Dietz