The Nurse Misplaced Her Brain

Nurse almost kills diabetic camper. Well, not exactly.

My best friend Elizabeth and I had just gotten out of the car after a three hour car ride to girl scout camp in the summer of 2009. Neither of us were technically girl scouts, but hey, who cares. It’s a whole week of just having plain old fun.

Diabetes Camp Nurse

But my dad was pretty nervous about me going to a camp alone without any parents or a staff of medical personal helping me manage my diabetes.
I was convinced that I would be fine. I can count carbs. I can so my own set. I’ll be okay. Calm down Dad.

The three of us march inside and get checked in. Then we go in search of the nurse.
We find her at a table taking other girls’ medicines and bagging them.
“Hi, I’m Minnie,” she says.

Let me stop right here and tell you that all the staff had weird nicknames. To this day I don’t know what Minnie’s real name is.

My dad introduces us and we get to talking about diabetes.
Minnie tells us that she is totally hip to diabetes. So Dad need not worry, right?
Am I on a pump or injections? A pump.
Can I count my own carbs? Dad tells Minnie that I’m really good at it, but it would be nice if she could help.
Can I do my own set changes? Yes, but a little help there also.
Lows and highs? I can feel both pretty quickly. And may I just add here that I was loaded down with a bag of smarties and a box of juice.
Would I please go to the nurse before meals to tell her my number and check in? And after meals to tell her my carbs and amount of insulin. Okay, sure.

Finally, Elizabeth, Dad, and I head over to our cabin to tell the counselor about diabetes.

And then Dad leaves. Freedom!

Elizabeth and I start the week off on a high note. Having fun, doing trail rides, building pyramids out of newspaper, that sort of thing.

The first day of camp was on a Sunday, but now it’s Tuesday after lunch.
“Did you have the sugar-free cookie?” Minnie asks after hearing my carb count.
“No,” I said.
She looks at me a little incredulously. “No? But you need to have sugar-free.”
“Nobody’s ever told me to have sugar-free,” I said. “It doesn’t matter.
“Actually it does matter sweety, in the long run.”
“Okay,” I said. But I went right back to ignoring the sugar-free menu.

On Wednesday during breakfast Minnie showed up at my table with sugar-free waffles and sugar-free syrup. Everyone else was eating pancakes. I accept them but go on eating pancakes with the regular syrup.

At lunch my blood-sugar was 170 but Minnie freaked out. Don’t get me wrong, but she was saying things like, “Oh my gosh, you’re 170. That’s a little high isn’t it. Well, what are you going to do about it? Do you think that you should still eat lunch right now?”
“I can still eat lunch right now.”
“Well, if you’re sure…”

After that little episode my numbers became “perfect”. If I was 170, she thought I was 120. If I was 70, she thought I was 120.

After lunch I had a set change. I went down to the nurse to do it. She was in the same room while I was changing my insulin and while I did my set. The first set I did would NOT stick to my skin. Both Minnie and I tried to fasten the adhesive to my butt, but it was like oil and water. So we gave it up. The second one didn’t work either. On the third try it stuck somewhat, so I decided to chance it, thinking that if it came off, I would just try again. I had one more left.

After a dance party that night my set fell off. So I went down to the nurse to do another set change. Please, please, please, let this work, I was thinking.
And it did. Well, not completely. It didn’t stick entirely. But I had no choice but to chance it.

“Did you eat the sugar-free pudding?” asked Minnie on my way out.
“Sweety, you really need to eat sugar free,” she said. “It matters when you’re older. You’ll understand.”

At about 1:00 in the morning I woke up feeling totally crappy. My set had come out. And I was about 300.
After getting out of bed I went to wake up Pip, my counselor. It took miles of will-power and an internal battle within my head to convince myself that I really needed to wake up Pip. And then I finally did.
Pip called Minnie who drove up in a pickup truck. I got in the back thinking that we were driving to the nurse’s office but Minnie just held out my bag of diabetes supplies to me. I climb in the front, grab a syringe, and shot myself.
I took the syringes and insulin with me when we went back to the cabin and ended up waking up a couple more times to give myself a shot.

The next morning Pip and Minnie thought that I shouldn’t have any food with sugar in it. I tried to explain that I could have sugar, I just needed to give myself insulin for it. They didn’t listen.
They finally found some oatmeal. It was plain oatmeal, so it didn’t have any sugar. So I told them that it actually had about fifteen carbs but Minnie just brushed my comment aside like an annoying fly. “Actually, it’s the sugar that counts, sweety.”

In an hour my mother arrived and gave me a new set. It actually worked. Surprise, surprise. So maybe I can’t do my own sets.
I was back to normal in no time.

But hey, I endured the antics of a crazy nurse. And that just shows that Diabetes just makes a person more independent, which isn’t always a bad thing.

Claire Montgomery
Type 1 Teenage Diabetic, Independent Pumper,  Hater of Diabetes Camp Nurses, Diabetic Camper Because Every Camp is a Diabetes Camp to a Type 1 Diabetic