Thursday, September 25, 2008

Let's Not Forget Diabetes Camp

Taking a seat in the common room, opposite Joseph's cabin nurse -- a woman with wavy brown hair who looks to be about my age -- I'm not nervous at all.

Determined, is more like it.

We start out talking about basal rates and insulin-to-carb ratios; corrections and the timing of set changes.

And then, I take a deep breath.

"Now, I'm sure you're aware that Joseph needs to be checked at both midnight and 2am. I spoke with the camp director about this a couple of months ago. Also, Joseph's endocrinologist sent a letter outlining the reasons why he needs to be checked... "

Her head tilts to one side; her mouth opens slightly.

And then-- a look of confusion.

"Did you see the letter from his doctor?" I ask.

"No, I didn't... but we can see how he's doing," she says with a pleasant smile, "I'm sure the camp doctor will be able to- "

"I'm afraid that's not gonna work-- you see, each of the last three years
I was assured that Joseph would be checked. And each year that hasn't happened. When I asked about this last year, I was told that the camp doctor overrode my son's doctor's orders because Joseph's blood sugars were 'in range' before he went to bed."

"Well, that's a good indication of- "

"No, I'm afraid it's not. At Joseph's last office visit his endocrinologist said specifically that if Joseph isn't checked overnight at camp he will have a seizure."

"I'm sure he would wake up- "

"Two nights ago, my son went to bed with an 'in-range' BG-- four hours later he was 52. We fed him glucose tablets and a snack-- he slept through it all."

"Oh... well that's... unusual. But I'm sure it's something he'll outgrow-- I mean once he's through puberty."

"I hope you're right-- but in the meantime, he needs to be checked."

An awkward silence, and then...

"Maybe you should speak with the camp doctor about this."

"I would absolutely love to speak with the camp doctor."

Minutes later, the endocrinologist responsible for the camp steps into the cabin. And before I can say anything, he tells me that the camp director spoke with him about Joseph earlier this morning.

"That's great," I say. And then I proceed to reiterate exactly why Joseph needs these overnight checks.

"We can certainly check him." he says. "A lot of parents make this request and it's just not necessary."


"Can you tell me-- did you receive a letter from Joseph's doctor?" I ask him.

"No, I don't recall seeing one."


"But testing his blood sugar shouldn't be a problem," the doc continues, "our people will be doing rounds at midnight and 2am anyway."

And with those words -- finally -- I know that Joseph will be okay.

Before leaving the room, I shake the doctor's hand-- and thank him and the nurse for helping to keep our son safe, emphasizing how much coming to this camp means to him.

I then make my way down down the hall to the next room-- where Ryan stands watching Joseph unpack his duffel.

Already the kid is yuckin' it up with his counselor and some of the other boys-- every once in a while looking over at the door to see if Tommy has arrived.

"Well-- he's all set," I tell Ryan.

He turns and gives me a questioning look-- to which I respond with a smile and a nod.

"Hey Bud," I call out, "we're leaving-- is that all right?"

"Yeah, sure-- I'll see you Friday," he calls back without looking up.

But immediately after we leave the room, Joseph leaps out into the hallway and gives us both a huge hug.

"Thanks, Bud," I say.

"Mom, this year's gonna be great, I just know it," he says with a grin that slays me.

"Oh yes, I know it too."


Kelly L (Maddison's mom) said...

I'm stressed out just reading this. I will never understand WHY Endo's insist on NOT checking at night! It is so infuriating!Good work mom for being instant!

Marilyn said...

I just read all of your camp posts.

Thank you for documenting your experiences. It helps me prepare for when my girl is old enough to go to camp.

By the way, I love your writing.

Minnesota Nice said...

Now, Sandra, why should anyone have to waste their time arguing with a so-called "medical professional" over what's best for Joseph? Geeze - I can't believe it. They are responsible for your kid. And, I am assuming that like most, this db camp is not cheap.

Penny said...


This is my 4th year reading about Joseph's camp experiences. I get mad every year when you talk about how they don't check him at night.

Then, I always enjoy the follow up post about how much he enjoyed camp. I look forward to that post this year too.

Diabetesmother said...

This year my 10 year old son and I went to diabetes camp less than two weeks after his diagnosis. I found the camp on line WHILE he was in the hospital - and while I was still in panic mode. This camp allowed me to be a counselor in the girls cabin (actually they were short staffed and I'm a clinical psychologist) which is the ONLY way my son would ever have gone away to camp at that point and the only way I would have let him. Being in charge of those girls (well, actually I was a 53 year old JUNIOR counselor...) and helping them with their BGL checks and their highs and their lows helped me to learn so much. Not only this but my son had a good time AND he learned to do his own injections that week!!! I will be forever grateful to that camp.

Oh, and by the way, this camp made a list every night of the children who needed midnight checks and 2AM checks and they had no problem putting as many kids on the list as needed to be there.

Good luck with next year!


Anonymous said...

so did he do ok? did they check him? I have never checked my daughter at night She is 14 and has only had diabetes (dxed) 3 mo.