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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lost and found - No longer alone.

So. Here's a story that I wrote for English. I had planned to post it right after I got it back, but that didn't turn out and when I remembered (a few days ago) I had to go find it because it wasn't in my documents. A lot of confusion came to pass that day.

Well, after a lot of wandering around lost and alone on my computer, here is my narrative essay camp story. It's about my first two camp experiences, because I wrote it before this year's camp and I wanted to do both years because I wanted the new-girl aspect but the story wasn't complete without Z. Who shall now be known as Kai. (I've change people's names because I love them and I'd really rather not encourage any creepers that I really hope aren't out there. <3) (Sorry for all the run-on sentences here. I just had cookies.)

No longer alone

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the vulnerable age of twelve. I thought my life was over, thought I’d never be happy again. I felt alone, lost and confused. I didn’t think that anybody could ever possibly understand what I was going through or how I felt. I didn’t even know anybody else with diabetes. When I learned about camp, I thought that maybe I would give it a try. Maybe there would be somebody who could understand. Maybe I wasn’t alone after all.

Camp Elphinstone out on Sechelt was warm at the beginning of July. The grass was a bright and vibrant green; the water was sparkling in the sun’s happy rays. Laughter danced behind every tree, over every hill, flowing with the wind. The flag snapped joyfully in the breeze and encouraged many smile-filled interpretive dances. I wasn’t alone any more. I was surrounded by people who had diabetes, people just like me, people who had to pay attention to everything, people who really knew how I felt. For the first time in nine months, I felt free, happy, understood. I don’t really know how I learned about camp. I remember, vaguely, people talking. It was during those three days – the life-changing period of time when I learned that I had diabetes – when somebody told me there were other people like me, people who knew how I felt. And that some of them went to camp in the summer. Naturally, because of my state of denial, the fact that there was somewhere that I could have fun with this condition didn’t register until much later. When I first walked up to the massive gathering of laughing people, I felt shy and small, the characteristics that I’d always had showing themselves. But they let me in to the circle without hesitation. I started to smile with them, realising that these people were all like me. We were different, together.

Being who I am, I was still quite shy. It took somebody talking to me to get me to open up. “Hi! I’m Kai!” “I’m Kathleen. Do I know you from somewhere?” “You do look familiar… Did you come last year?” “Yep.” “Hm. How long have you had diabetes?” “A year and nine months.” “And you’re at camp already? Do you have a pump?” “Yeah – it’s an Animas.” “Cool! I’ve got a Medtronic.” The bond was instantaneous and strong.

I couldn’t help but smile all week. There were people who understood. I remember hours spent lying on our bunks, laughing until we couldn’t breathe. All the worry, all the responsibility – it didn’t go away, but it went to the back of my mind, freeing up some space for laughter.

During the week nearly everybody I met had diabetes and so we had an immediate, mutual, understanding bond. Every counselor dedicated themselves to the kids and was fun to be with. The activities we did were new things that I’d never done before – archery, kayaking and sailing are just a few examples. Everything was done with friends by my side, support from all around, and health professionals just around the corner. One of my absolute favourite things happened right after lunch. It was our cabin’s turn to clean the kitchen, and my friend and I volunteered to take out the garbage. Grabbing me by the arm, Kai yelled “We’ll take out the garbage!” We were dragging the heavy bag outside to the dumpsters when something started to get to us. To this day, we don’t know if it was hormones, heat, blood sugars or food. “To be or not to be! That is the question! Whether to suffer the slings and arrows of whatever whatever or to…” We both dissolved into giggles. The next hour was spent collapsed on our beds laughing so hard that we were literally gasping for breath. “This moment shall henceforth be known as SHAKESPEARE!”

The week was full of moments like this – random little inside jokes that doubled us over with laughter. ‘Tickle tickle’, ‘Hello Ladies’ and ‘Are your ears burnt?’ are perfect examples. It put diabetes in the backs of our minds (the doctors helping us every step of the way could worry about that), leaving us open to laughter and fun.

When the week was over – it had gone much too fast - we packed our belongings with heavy hearts, the laughter nonetheless fresh in our minds. As we boarded the bus down to the ferry terminal, we talked about the cool activities, the inside jokes, the awesomely stable blood sugars. We were getting off the bus when we met one of our friends who hadn’t known where we were. She jumped around a pole when she saw us. “Where WERE you guys? It thought you’d been eaten!” “Oh, no, we were just on the bus with the important people.” *Giggle* “I’m going to miss you guys.” “Me too.” *Hugs*.

While I was at camp I realized that I wasn’t alone. I found out that there are positives in with this dark cloud and that maybe they might even outweigh the negatives. I wasn’t alone any more, I wasn’t lost anymore. I had found a place where I could be the person I was and not the person with Diabetes.  I found a best friend that week, and it was a week that I will never, ever forget. Diabetes camp taught me that I am not alone. That nobody with diabetes is ever alone. I learned that there is a listening ear for everybody, an understanding soul. There are always silver linings even in the darkest of clouds. Diabetes isn’t who I am, and it never will be, but it is a part of me. Camp showed me that I can be okay with that. That everything can – and will – be okay.

P.S. Hey Z! We never got to take out the garbage! :)

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