Do you ever find yourself thinking as you go through your day "that would make a good blog topic"? Seriously, there are so many thoughts that pop into my head during my day and I'll stop every now and then and think, "I should write about that in the blog". And then the ideas just pile up and I don't get around to writing all of them down! But this is one topic that I keep coming back to and I know I need to write it out.
I need to give a little background before I go into the real topic I'm writing on tonight. I've been diabetic for 23 years. I come from a family with 7 children, 5 from the first marriage and 2 from the second. Three of us from the first group are diabetic. Sucks, right? It made things a bit rough. My mom was a single-mom of 7 children, 3 diabetics, from the time I turned 13 on. So, you do the math...a single income that would keep even a family of 4 below the poverty-line, stretched to provide for a family of 8, including 3 with chronic illnesses. It doesn't make for the prettiest of pictures. But you know what? There were some good things about being diabetic! Seriously! It's because of being diabetic that I got to go to summer camp. I met incredible people, who also had diabetes. I developed friendships with people from all across Minnesota and Wisconsin. I learned to sail and canoe and ride horseback. I spent a week every summer doing incredible things with wonderful people. I went on a 5-day sailing trip on Lake Superior. Twice. And learned to surf a canoe in the Flambeau River. Those are amazing experiences and wonderful memories. And to be honest with you....I'm not sure I'd be willing to trade those memories for a cure! Don't get me wrong, life with diabetes can be hard and I'd love for them to find a cure now...but not every minute of growing up with diabetes was awful because of those experiences. There were some pretty powerful moments that I wouldn't have gotten to have if it weren't for diabetes!
I'm sure it was a pain for my mom to watch three of her children grow up with diabetes. Having a child with diabetes and one without, I know I'm always worried that the one without is going to end up diagnosed as well. As a parent, I'm terrified of that and I grieved when my daughter was diagnosed. I mourned the life I had envisioned for her, without diabetes. But there was one bright, shining thought that consoled me. At least my daughter would get to experience Camp Needlepoint. I know, it may seem silly to think of that as a wonderful thing, but really, it is! A camp for diabetics and the memories and friendships I made there and all I learned about myself and my disease...well, I give all of that credit for saving me from myself and for making my life what it was. It kept me from raging at the disease.
So...the reason I'm writing this now? I want parents of diabetic children to realize that while diabetes can be truly awful sometimes, it's not the end of the world. It's not the worst thing that can happen to our children. It sucks and I hope they find a cure someday soon. I want my daughter to not have to poke her fingers countless times, every day of her life. I want her to sleep peacefully without ever worrying that she won't wake up. But more than anything, I want my daughter to be inspired. I want her to be amazed. I want her to be happy. And all of that is possible, with diabetes or without. A camp for diabetics can play a very strong role in making those things happen. If your child is diabetic, I urge you to look for a camp when your diabetic reaches an age where it would be appropriate. I actually plan to take my daughter to visit the camp near us, every summer until she can board the bus and start attending day camp!
Search for a camp near you!