One of my first jobs was at St. Mary’s Hospital in Reno. I worked there for 10 years. Over that time I got to know a lot of people in health care. I was asked to help out with support groups that the Diabetes center put on. This was not something I had done before, or did I ever participate in a support group. I was just fine doing this by myself. Carol Bradley was a nurse who talked me into helping out and I eventually found it rewarding. She also helped me get into pump therapy, as prior to that, I thought it would be like the proverbial “albatross around my neck”, something to weigh me down. Boy was I wrong.
They were also involved in a Camp for kids with diabetes at Lake Tahoe, one of my favorite places on earth. That lake is so beautiful. Well I figured I had little to offer anyone with diabetes as I consider myself as one who shuns most of what doctors say and just “shoot from the hip” when it comes to taking care of myself. I mean I eat whatever I want, I drink, and don’t check my BS much, as I have tried to train myself to be aware of whether or not my BS is under control.
I was involved with the camp for five years. It became known as Camp Buck during that time. I enjoyed being a counselor more than I could have imagined. I was in charge of the cabin with the youngest camp members, the 7 and 8 year old boys who were there for the first time. Our job was to teach these kids as much about their disease and how to control it as we could in a week. It was also to have fun, which is my specialty. During beach time at the lake I would often have huge wrestling matches with the kids, picking them up and throwing them into the water; something they didn’t ever seem to get enough of, though it would wear me out. We would do sports, crafts, learning about diabetes, and eating three meals and three snacks a day. All this around the constant care of nurses and doctors with glucose monitors and snacks.
I eventually was asked to run the camp. My fourth year I was the second in charge, but found that the responsibility was too much. My last year I volunteered as a counselor only. It was then I found the administration of the camp to be difficult. They would not allow much fun as they seem to be too worried about anyone getting hurt. I didn’t understand liability. I made mistakes that last year that I am not proud of, but have learned from.
I have not gone back nor have I heard from anyone from those five years since. It has been 10 to 15 years since then. I hope my presence there was a positive thing for at least one kid it will have all been worth it.
Since then I have lived in Washington State. I don’t know many people here and have met only a handful of people with diabetes.