We spent this past weekend at Camp with Owen to learn about his diabetes and how we can help him manage it. I didn’t really know what to expect going into this weekend, I just wanted to be open and receptive to whatever information they wanted to pass on. It turns out, there is a ton to learn but we had some amazing people there to help us understand it.
The place I am referring to is the Barton Center which is a summer camp and education center for children and families with diabetes. Yesterday from morning till night we talked about, and heard stories about, Diabetes.
What it is. An auto-immune disease that attacks the part of your pancreas that produces insulin.
How it works. Insulin regulates the glucose in your blood, when your pancreas stops producing it your glucose levels can get really high or really low. When it gets either high or low, you feel like garbage, you can’t think straight and at advanced levels, it can get pretty scary pretty quickly.
So how do you treat it?
But to know how much insulin you need to give, first you need to check your blood.Owen wants to check your blood.
So check it, every time before you eat. And once more before you go to bed. Hold out your finger and prick it till it bleeds enough to fill a testing strip and get ready to do some math because you’ll need to know how much your glucose will go up depending on what you eat and you’ll have to take a very specific amount of insulin.
People who have Diabetes are tough. I can’t tell you how many kids from ages 3-26 I watched waiting patiently as their parents or grandparents went through this process before every meal without any complaint or frustration.
It’s not easy to learn but when you do the math enough times, it starts to click. Then it all becomes a whole lot less scary.
But sometimes your numbers can go up or down for any number of reasons from exercise, to stress, to illness. So even when you’re on your math game, your body might be playing by different rules. Something I overheard yesterday: “Diabetes doesn’t play fair.”
It also seems like people who deal with it every day learn that the smoother the process of testing and taking insulin, the quicker you’ll get back to doing whatever it is you wan to do.
I got to experience a couple shots of saline to feel what it’s like to get poked as well as test my blood. My fingers were not bleeding very well so I had to prick them multiple times. I still can’t imagine having to do it all day, every day. For that alone everyone who has Diabetes should get some kind of medal.
Speaking of getting a medal, I think Owen should get another one for giving himself his first injection!
I still can’t get over the whole notion of knowing exactly how much I’m going to eat before I sit down at the dinner table. I would’ve been a terrible child with diabetes because I was such a finicky eater. Anyway, after you figure out what you want to eat, you still have to take the insulin into the syringe without pulling bubbles. Wow.
Despite all of the rigors of monitoring the disease the kids I met who are dealing with it are amazingly brave. It was truly inspiring to watch the councilors take these kids, some of whom have only been diagnosed over this past winter, and completely embrace them into that magical place that is camp. It seems to bring out the best in people.
Meeting all of the councilors was such a pleasant surprise to the weekend and I think it gives all of the young kids who are just being introduced to their Diabetes some excellent role models. Hearing their stories helped normalize it for me. Some of my favorite quotes: “Diabesties” and “it’s just a chronic illness.”
I was most surprised to hear that a number of them felt grateful for getting Diabetes because it’s a part of who they are and it has brought them all together.
Tonight’s song is Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones.