Diabetes Connections – Camp!

This week’s episode is all about camp. Mostly diabetes camp, but a little bit about “regular camp” as well. I spent almost all of my childhood summers away; camp was independence and fun and a chance to find out who I was, away from my parents and school friends. I’m so happy and grateful that both of my children can share that experience.

You’ll hear from Justin Thomas, the director Camp Carolina Trails, run by the American Diabetes Association and from Galen Horton, a staff member at CCT who works with Animas Corp. Both men were campers in the program once upon a time  and have a lot to say about why the experience is so meaningful. This summer marked Galen’s 30th at Carolina Trails!  You’ll also hear from a once-reluctant camper who turned her experience around and has loved it for nine years. Sara is going to Camp Kudzu as a Counselor-In-Training this year. And I share some information about my son’s time at “regular” non-diabetes day camp and sleep away camp.

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Helpful links:

American Diabetes Association camp finder

Project Blue November diabetes camp guide

Sara (the camper you hear from) is starting a campaign to find positive diabetes support for teens. You can find out more on her blog or contact her through twitter @meow_its_sarah It’s a great idea!

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Diabetes Connections – Sierra Sandison

Last year, the diabetes community watched with the rest of the world as Miss Idaho was voted People’s Choice in the Miss America Pageant. Sierra Sandison won the Miss Idaho pageant with an insulin pump clipped to her bikini, prompting the #showmeyourpump social media movement.

This week, Sandison’s year as Miss Idaho came to a close. We talk about her new book and online projects as well as take a look back at her incredible experience at the Miss America Pageant. I also took a few questions for Sandison from Facebook, about advice for teenagers and what she does when diabetes feels like a burden. In Community Connections, you’ll hear about a new diagnosis, a new school, and a fortuitous meeting for the family of a first grader.

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Helpful links from this episode:

Sierra Sandison’s Sugar Linings Blog (and book)

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Type 1 Teens – Sandison talks about this group started by her friend Hadley George

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Positive Spin?

I left a comment on a Facebook diabetes group post recently and she replied, “Thank you, Stacey! You always have the positive spin!”

At first, that made me feel good. Then I thought about it. Always positive? Am I the cheerleader of this group? I do try to be optimistic about diabetes management. After all, the parent sets the tone and I don’t want my son walking around in a gloom-and-doom cloud of fear. But T1D is hard. Any type of diabetes is hard. It’s relentless. It’s always there and if you ignore it, it just makes things worse. It’s a giant pain in the ass and it’s important to acknowledge that.

I didn’t always think that way. About three weeks after Benny was diagnosed, we went to visit my parents. I wanted my mom and dad to think everything was still okay. I didn’t want them to worry. So I was going to show them that we were fine. We had it under control. My not-yet-two-year-old didn’t mind 6-8 blood sugar checks and sometimes that many shots a day. It was all good! We were the most fabulous diabetes family!

Of course, that wasn’t true and I burst into tears about 15 minutes after walking into my mom’s house. Because this sucks and we aren’t perfect and if your mom can’t hug you and know the truth, who are you going to tell?!

But… I also don’t want anyone feeling bad for my son. I don’t want you to look at Benny or my family and think, “Oh, that’s so sad. Poor them. Their life sucks.” Because it doesn’t. It’s not exactly the life I expected, but it’s still pretty great.

I don’t want your pity, but I will claim my own sadness and frustration. I can’t pretend everything’s always fine, it often isn’t. And we usually have 5 or 6 things going on that you might not see. That’s okay. You probably do to.

I’ll keep going with the positive spin on Facebook, and elsewhere, hopefully with a nod to how hard this can be. If you deny the frustration and sadness that comes along with a chronic illness, you don’t do yourself any favors. But if you also deny the joy you still have, you’re missing out on so much more.

Diabetes Connections – Six Until Me

This week I’m talking with writer, speaker and advocate Kerri Sparling. Her website, Six Until Me, is home to one of the most widely read diabetes blogs in the world. She is also the author of Balancing Diabetes.

Kerri’s blog was one of the first I found after my son was diagnosed in 2006. The unique title comes from the age at which Kerri was diagnosed, but it’s so much more than that. You can read more about the story behind the name here.

Kerri & I talked about the early days of diabetes blogging, deciding what to keep private when you discuss your life online, and the power of ordinary success. You’ll also hear about a coincidence that made theater camp better for a child with diabetes, and I share how I found other d-families near me (plus a bit about my love/hate relationship with diabetes Facebook groups):

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Helpful links from this episode:

Blogs Kerri mentioned as some of the first she found:

Scott Johnson, DiabetesMine, Kathleen Weaver

The Spare A Rose campaign