Monday, June 29, 2009

Camp Lo-Be-Gon

Well, we did it....she did it, really. She's at diabetes camp. We dropped her off this morning. It is not overnight (mom extremely grateful), but will be 4 full days of hiking, and canoeing, and archery, swimming, education, crafts, etc.

I won't lie...I cried. I started to sob, but choked it back quickly when we pulled up and I saw all of the kiddos with diabetes (and their siblings). I can't explain how it felt. It's Sophie's first time to be around other kids, well little girls specifically, with diabetes. Now, I am a bit nervous about the swimming and letting strangers be the ones in control of watching her there, but that's probably my biggest concern. And last week at VBS, she choked on a life saver. I'm guessing they're life-savers because they have the little hole in the middle, so when they're lodged in your throat you still get a little air. Totally freaky experience as she thought she was dying (even said so through the little hole). I nearly cancelled our reservation at the camp, because I thought I'm just not ready to relinquish that much control over her to others' care. Near-death experiences, no mom nearby...just not ok with that. But, as you can see by the beginning of this post, I've tried to let go of that notion, and just trust God to protect her and threaten the counselors with severe pain if something happens to my girl. Ok, I didn't go that far, don't worry

Here's why the emotions, I think. Diabetes has been such a pain in the patooshki (as we say around here) for the last 9 months. As I've said many times before, it's a life-changer and often so difficult. But, it's a badge of honor for Sophia. It's something she has gotten through with grace and strength. It's all-consuming and something that invades her every time she has to prick her finger, get a shot, report she feels "shaky," change her pump site, or unplug or replug to swim or take a bath.

This is her life. She's so, so proud of herself, and wants everyone she meets to know she has diabetes and now to see her pink pump. The day after she got it, we were at a homeschool event and she was showing all her friends. They mostly just stared at her with confusion and a little afraid in some cases. One girl looked at her so excitedly and exclaimed "Oh, yay! You got a camera!!" We've been in public and she'll insist we tell a stranger that we happened to strike up a conversation with that she has diabetes and a pink pump. She doesn't get it that it's a little akward to bring that up to strangers, so we usually find a way to tell them, just to make her happy, even though it does end up being, well, akward. She thinks all kids she meets should be so excited about her pump. Needless to say they don't get it. She handed it to our little friend who's nearly two the other night, and the friend promptly yanked it, because it looks like a toy. Now, we totally understand that kids just don't get it.

She got to show off her finger-pricking and educate 13 kids at VBS all about diabetes. She even explained how her pancreas doesn't work, but their's does, and she has to keep track of her blood-sugars to make sure she's ok. They all just stared at her and one kid yelled, "Ooh! Is it contagious?!!" I felt sorry for her. I feel sorry for her every time she akwardly shoves her pump in some kid's face, and they look at her like she's weird, and she's just soooo proud. It doesn't make her sad though. Somewhere inside, she knows they don't understand, but she's going to tell them anyway.

So, back to today.

Wow! To be a totally and completely normal child. To be just like everyone around you. I'm crying just typing it. It's amazing. I'm so happy for her to meet some friends that are 6 years old, and have diabetes, and are on pumps or shots. She's in a group of about 10 little girls with 2 adult counselors, and it looked like 2 teen counselors and they ALL have type-1 diabetes! She's completely accepted and completely normal. Now, the nurse gave me bug-eyes when I told her she gets hives and asthma often outside in grass, and around animals. But, that's ok. Lots of kids have allergies and asthma, and I'm sure she'll be just fine there. (That used to be a big deal to me before October 6, 2008).

Well, here's hoping I can not obsess on these things all week, and can just get some things done at home. Say a prayer for her this week. It's a big deal. Oh, that was the best picture I could get of her with Jossie hugging her good-bye. She has been so excited for 2 weeks telling everyone she's going to diabetes camp, but today after she changed into her new t-shirt, she got pretty quiet and nervous. She left me without tears though......

Sweet girl.


Gayla said...

oh, anjanette. praying for sophie and for you as she has such a big girl experience this week. she's had so many big girl experiences in the past 1/2 year... she's a pretty amazing little girl.

Jeanette said...

I can't even tell you how proud I am of her. I thought about her all day today (and of course, prayed a lot for her). I'm proud of you too mom ----- I know how hard that is to leave your child the first time much less leave a child with diabetes in someone elses care. I know they are all very capable and know exactly what she is going through so thank God for that.

Sonia Lopez said...

Anj, thanks for emailing the link to your site...I love it, specially reading about how you are managing Sophia's diabetes, and absolutely love those great photos of the girls!
That's funny and so cute that Sophia wants to show strangers her pump and tell them that she has diabetes... Lidia tells strangers that her baby sister died and went to the sky (that's her translation for "heaven" in Spanish...) makes me and Brian quite nervous when she does that, but people usually react really well and let her talk...some even ask her questions about it, and Lidia shares as much or as little as she wants, and soon moves on to the next toy/game she wants to focus on! I usually know if they want a more clear explanation or not by the way they make eye-contact with me or by the lack of eye-contact.
This is their world, and this is normal to them, so in their innocent minds...why not talk about it?
After Lidia shared about her sister with strangers several times, in a way I started seeing it more "normal"...and, in fact, if we don't consider "normal" having experienced the death of a close relative, or having diabetes, or a physical or mental disability, or having an absent parent, or cancer in the family, or juvenile delinquency problems of an older sibling,... then very few of us can be considered "normal" or having a "normal" family... Whether we want it or not, these things are part of life...
I'm so thankful that Sophia sees it normal and is not embarrased because of it. I'm glad she is emotionally managing it so well!