One week before my 10th birthday, my older sister was killed in a car wreck. Shortly after, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes, but at that time, the doctor called it “Rare Diabetes” which sounded even more scary then just diabetes. My father blamed himself; my mother was scared to death. Thinking the tiniest bruise could lead to amputation. Thinking that a single high blood glucose level would cause blindness. Thinking that her baby boy would never live old enough to be a man.
Not only was I trying to cope with the death of my sister, but I was also trying to learn about diabetes, and always wondered “Why me? What did I do wrong?” I’m from a very small town and it didn’t take long for all of the parents of kids in my class to quickly become afraid of having me around. Because you know, a juvenile diabetic can just die on the spot. People stopped inviting me to parties and social functions. As if just being in the same room as a chocolate cake would have the same effect of eating the whole cake. The lack of education back then remains today for people who don’t have diabetes, or don’t have a loved one affected by this horrible disease. And trust me, the comments I get add to the frustration of having T1D...
“Did you know cinnamon can cure diabetes?” Like, it took scientists from 1921 to now before they discovered cinnamon as a cure?!
“Oh, you have diabetes? My grandma had that. She lost a foot.” I have heard that one a thousand times, but they never tell me which foot...
My [least] favorite slap-in-the-face comment is: “Well, you don’t look fat enough to be a diabetic.”
Once you have diabetes, you spend the rest of your life trying not to die. Then it happened… we found Camp Hendon. Not only did camp change my childhood, but also it has changed my adult life. Now, more than ever, I need Camp Hendon in my life. It also helped my parents. It let my dad know that he did not fail me as a father. It showed my mom other moms who may be afraid, but were also brave enough to face the disease that is hurting their child. I am not a parent, but I know that as a parent, not being able to “help” your child can hurt more than anything. The amount of love, support, and knowledge you (and your parents) get from camp means everything to a child with diabetes, and as an adult, it is the most priceless gift from God. I don’t feel sorry for myself, but I do feel so sorry for the T1D children and adults that do not have a place like Camp Hendon. I’ve always said Camp Hendon is where a diabetic kid can be just a kid. As an adult, Camp Hendon is where the heart is. It is where I go to live.