Kortnie at the 2011 JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes, Tempe Town Lake, Tempe, AZ

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Diabetes Camp - The Dropoff

The time has come.  She's been waiting all year for this.  Back in January I asked Kortnie if she would like to go to Diabetes Camp this Summer.  She would turn 8, 4 days before camp and 8 is the age you can start going.  She thought about it for a week or so and asked me a few questions and then she told me that YES, she'd LOVE to be able to go.  Around March is when Registration opened up for Camp AZDA.  The Camp would run a whole week, June 9 - June 16 and would be located around 3.5 hours from home near the town of Prescott, Arizona.  I started the registration process, dang there were a ton of questions, but they were all good questions and totally relevant to what goes into taking care of a Type 1 Diabetic kid, I paid the $50 registration fee.  She was accepted to camp, received $85 worth of financial aid and we rounded up the other $615 needed to send her to camp.  Her Grandparents (my parents) and Great-Grandparents (Brian's Grandparents) paid for her camp fees.  Her Grandma (Brian's mom) bought her a few things that she needed to pack for a birthday present.  We spent a week before camp packing and discussing.  I was nervous. She was nervous, but more excited than nervous.  The camp booklet said that she didn't need to bring any diabetes supplies, no insulin, no test strips, no meter, no poker, no low snacks, no syringes, no alcohol wipes, no ketone strips, the camp would provide everything.  I had a hard time not packing those things for her.  I was worried about her not having access to her meter at all times.  I understand that they probably didn't want kids to be burdened with carrying those things around and not have to worry about them losing their meters or getting them mixed up with other kids. Still, she and I both had a hard time not packing at least her meter and strips and a glucose tabs.  The camp did ask that she bring pump supplies, just in case they didn't have enough to accommodate everyone.  I felt better that I got to pack at least some of those.  :)  A week or so before camp she began emailing with 2 girls who we knew would also be first timers and in the same cabin as her at Camp AZDA.  That helped ease her mind and increase her excitement.

My husband took Saturday off so he could go with  me to drop her off at camp.  I realized that he was nervous too.  Somehow that made me feel better.  Since Kork's diagnosis we have not been able to go away overnight together.  It's been a hard 2 1/2 years, it took us a long time to even leave her with a babysitter so we could go on a date.   We figured that while she was gone away to Diabetes Camp we'd send the other 2 kids to his mom's and we'd go on a little trip ourselves.  We planned to drop Kork off Saturday afternoon and then continue on to Laughlin, we'd stay until Monday and then come back home so he could go to work.    I took the 2 kids to Grandma's on Friday night, came home, got a good night's sleep and we were on the road by about 8:30 Saturday morning.  The closer we got to Prescott the more freaked out I got.  Kortnie was bouncing around the backseat talking non-stop.  I could tell she was nervous and excited too.  Her blood sugars usually run high when she's like that.  We started the day off with a 200, I gave her a breakfast bolus and upped her basal rates by 20%.  Around 11am she was 115, a great number.  At 12:30pm when we stopped for lunch  (we were about an hour from camp drop off) she was back up to 257.  We had Subway, gave her a huge bolus and upped her basal rates 50% for one hour.  I was starting to tear up at this point.  After lunch we found camp, got her signed in, filled out papers and someone took us to her cabin.  Her cabin was smallish, you go in and turn right into her room-Aztec (turn left into another room Hualapai), 4 sets of bunk beds with name tags on each one.  She found her bed, a top bunk!  She found the beds of the 2 girls she'd been emailing with.  Also each girl was assigned a shelf unit to unpack their clothes onto.  There were 2 other beds, one for the counselor and one for the "med staff" that stay with each of them. Also a shower room.  In the "middle" common area were 2 sinks and 2 toilet rooms.  It was comforting to see ketosticks on the sink and sharps containers on the shelves :)  It was a big stuffy and hot in the cabin.  I hope they open windows while there, I'm sure they will.   After we saw the cabin we were going to go to the Arts and Crafts cabin to spruce up her name tag, but we were told that the bus from Phoenix was arriving and it had her roommates and counselor on it.  So someone whisked her away to go meet the bus.  Brian and I stood back and watched.  It's a big to do to welcome a bus full of campers.  I could see how happy Kortnie was, she found Sugar and A.K.. right away!  The group of campers was taken back to their cabin, Brian and I followed behind and that's when I really started losing it! 

I snapped this picture of them walking into the cabin, Kortnie is looking at me, Sugar has the green backpack and A.K. has a pink backpack and is walking up the steps.  I wanted to get more pictures, but they were oblivious to me, they were excited to be at camp and making new friends and they were hanging on every word that their counselor was saying.  I didn't want to impose on their fun. Kortnie took a disposable camera with her, I hope she gets a lot of great photos.  After I took this picture, the girls disappeared inside.  I wept, and Brian held me.  I wasn't ready to leave, but I knew we needed to. I went inside and listened to the girls chatter for a few minutes.  Kortnie was oblivious to me standing there.  I said "Kork!" She turned and looked "We're going now."  she said "Okay!"  I said, "well, aren't you gonna come say goodbye to us?"  She came out and gave me and Brian a hug.  The rest of the girls came out, they were going to go pick out boots for when they rode horses the next day.  Brian and I followed behind, when they stopped at the boot tent, we kept walking.  We got to the car and I said to Brian, "let me go back and tell those counselor girls about her high BG and check her BG again really quick" he said okay and he'd get the AC going in the car.  I went back, told the girls she'd had a big bolus and upped basal at lunch and to watch for a low later, they said okay they'd keep an eye on her and told Kortnie to let them know anytime she wanted to check her BG.  I said to her "why don't you check it now before I leave?"  She said to me, "no, I'm good"  they counselors told her to go ahead and check and make mom feel better, Kortnie said she felt fine.  I said Okay, the counselors said she'd be okay.  I told them I was a "crazy worried mom" they said all the mom's are and that it's okay.  I left again.  Got in the car, cried some more and we took off down the road.  Stopped for gas and Brian remembered that Kortnie had a wad of money in her pocket.  You aren't supposed to take money and valuables to camp.  He said we should go back and get it from her.  (hee hee now he's wanting to go back) I said, no we'll call, so we called and had someone go get the money from her and hold it until I pick her up. 

I posted on Facebook the picture I took and how I'd just dropped her off and how freaked out I was, I got lots of supportive comments.  But I tell ya, my stomach hurt, I had a headache and it took about an hour for me to stop crying.  I fell asleep for a little bit.  Brian and I got to Laughlin, got checked in and started to relax.  We called our other 2 kids at Grandma's, we slept in the next morning we ate breakfast, we strolled the riverwalk, we laughed and reconnected, we tried not to talk or think about the kids.  That evening we called the kids again and went to dinner.  At dinner Brian said to me that he wished we could call Kortnie too.  I was glad he said it, because I was thinking about it too.  I was glad to see he was missing them as much as me.  I was glad to see he was as nervous about letting somebody else take care of Kortnie as much as me.  It was one thing to drop Stasia and Graham off with Brian's mom, but a whole other ballgame to drop Kortnie off at camp with strangers, especially when so much goes into her daily care.  We knew that the camp would take care of her, we knew she'd be surrounded by other kids and adults with Type 1 Diabetes as well as medical staff and the people with out T1D would certainly be knowledgeable.  We knew she'd be okay and have fun, but that didn't doesn't make it any easier. 

On our way to camp this was one of our conversations:
Kortnie: "I don't think you've ever left me for a week"
Me:  "I have never left you for a week."
Kortnie: "Oh"
Me:  "Actually I have never even left Stasia and Graham this long, they are gonna be at Grandma's 3 nights, I've only ever left you guys one or two nights and that was before you had diabetes"  "I'm gonna miss you guys, all of you"
Kortnie:  "I'm gonna miss you guys too, but I think I will have fun"
Me:  "yep, you'll have fun"
Kortnie:  "If I like camp, can I go again next year"
Me:  "Yes"  I was really thinking, "oh brother, I'm a mess now, let's not start talking about next year already!"

Anyways, we dropped her off, she was brave, she was ready to go.  I cried, but I got myself under control.  I had a fun time with my husband, it was just what we needed.  I slept till 9am the first day and 9:20am the second day.  I didn't have to get up and check blood sugars in the middle of the night.  It was kinda of nice.  When we left Monday afternoon to go home, it was weird knowing that we were only going to pick up 2 of our kids, not 3.  Kortnie's little brother (almost 5) has asked for her 3 times since we picked him up.  I miss her like crazy, it's weird to have 2 kids and not 3 at home.  I am counting down the days until Saturday when I go get her.  I'll cry then too.  For now, I'll just be wondering what her BG is and wondering what she's doing and waiting for a letter in the mail.  I didn't get one today, sure hope I do tomorrow, and if I don't get one tomorrow, I hope someone else does and they call me and tell me.  She took envelopes addressed to us, Grandma Linda, Grandma and Grandpa Hess, and Great-Grandma and Bompa.


  1. I'm sure she is having a blast! I'm glad that you guys got to get away for a few days too.

    1. I'm sure she is having tons of fun too. That girl is fearless and she just loves to go have fun and make new friends. It's just so hard to leave your kids, it's crazy how much you miss them.

  2. OH MY GOSH!!!!! This made me tear up!!!!! Reading all about the way they had their names on their bunks...AWWWWW...thank you for sharing each little detail. I'm hanging on every little detail right now, missing my girl!!! When I saw that picture on FB, it gave me such a sense of peace. Once she disappeared onto the bus, I couldn't hardly see her through the window...so that was it. When I saw her there, with the other girls, in front of her cabin, it absolutely warmed my heart ;) THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

    I'm happy you had a nice get away. Glad you've got 2 of your babies back, and counting the days with you until our homes are complete again!

    PS -- Here's A.K.'s mama's blog! http://dwordramblings.blogspot.com/

  3. Thanks Wendy. I'm glad you enjoyed. I tend to ramble and I wondered if anyone would get thru that post. I'll go check out Terri's blog. I friended her on FB but didn't see a blog listed under her info. From right this minute a little over 50 hours and I'll be picking Kortnie up! YES!!!!!!!