How I Survived Fanny Packs & Summer Camps

Summer camp was one of the most cherished annual events of my childhood. My mom recently shared her memory of overhearing a conversation I had with my cousin Shannon on the eve of our departure for camp. I was only 5 but I was clearly ready for the experience. Mom said she was stunned  when she heard me proclaim, “I can’t wait t to get out of here! Freedom from our parents! Hooray!” She had been worried about my readiness and thought I’d be so terribly homesick that I wouldn’t make it through the week. In fact, she had left her schedule flexible to accommodate what she thought would be the inevitable phone call.

She couldn’t have been more mistaken. I said goodbye to my parents and never looked back. The minute I got a taste of independence there was no chance I was going back. I really liked camp and everything about it. From that summer on I begged my parents to let me return and they did.

My older cousin, Katelyn, had attended the king of all summer camps—Kamp Kanakuk (yes, they use k’s for everything). It was a 14-day Christian camp in the Missouri Ozarks with campfires, rope courses, and even a waterslide! Shannon (who is younger than me by 11 days) and I decided we were ready for the big leagues so we made the pitch to our parents.

They told us we could go but not until we turned 13. So, when the time came we gently reminded them of their promise and made sure they registered us in time. (Kamp Kanakuk was one of those in demand places that filled up several months in advance!)

We were all registered to go and anticipating an adventure-filled experience at the new camp when tragedy struck—at least in my young teen mind, that’s what it felt like. In the spring of that year I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It was a disorienting time in my life. I felt distraught and desolate in this new life and regime and felt overwhelmed by all the changes I knew I was going to have to get accustomed to. I was also ashamed of the diagnosis and refused to speak about it.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Two months later my parents received medical disclosure forms from Kamp K. My pharmacist father meticulously explained my diagnosis, medications, and overall schedule of dosing. He assured me this was no big deal. A week later the camp’s nurse called to inform my parents that an additional form would be required and would need my signature along with my parents. This did not seem like “no big deal” to me.

There was also a long list of requirements for campers with medical conditions, but the thing that upset me the most was that I would be required to wear a fanny pack at all times. A fanny pack (!) to carry my my diabetes supplies and snacks. I was 13 and hadn’t even spoken publicly about having my diabetes and now I was going to be forced to have a scarlet letter strapped around my waist that screamed, “I’M THE SICK, WEIRD KID! LOOK AT ME!” I shouted angrily to my parents that I would not be attending camp and I ran to my room in tears. This seemed like just one more painful reminder of what I thought my new reality was going to be like—segregation from all the other normal kids.

I called Shannon ito giver her my distressing news. I just couldn’t imagine having to wear the fanny pack at all times and knew it would make me feel completely out-of-place. Shannon has always been the calm, sensible cousin and so in typical fashion she spoke reassuringly to me and tried to calm me down. She told me that no one would even notice—they’d be so distracted by all the fun camp activities. But  I told her my mind was made up and I wouldn’t be going. It was final.

Read the rest of my blogpost at DiabeticLifestyle.com here

‘Why are you overweight, Quinn?’

rochesterquestionThis last fall a man raised his hand during a speech of mine, and asked me what lifestyle choices I had made to become overweight? Read my blog post from this week for my response to him (and any others who’ve asked or wondered the same thing).

To Cara Mullon who was a shining light brought into my life many years ago, thank you for coming to the speech that night and reminding me of the purpose behind the work I do….regardless of the comments that any audience members makes. Shine bright girl!

caraandmerochester

 
Bottom line: My credibility as a speaker and diabetes advocate is not rolled up in my waist circumference. Nor does it have relevance in if I’m a role model to others.

Read the post on DiabeticLifestyle.com that I wrote…

Diabetes Ignorance 101

ignorance

A good friend of mine, who has type-1 diabetes, recently posted this picture on her facebook wall. Of course I just sort of shook my head in response that someone would then post the below comment to it on facebook. The people who are educated about diabetes can’t believe the level of people’s ignorance. People who haven’t been “properly” educated about the disease do ask these types of questions and/or make ignorant comments to people living with type-1 and type-2 diabetes. I can only speak from personal experience in the arena of type-1.

Most people who read my blog are pretty familiar that there is a difference between type-1 and type-2, but if people aren’t I would like to share the quick differences. I took the quoted information straight from the American Diabetes Association’s website diabetes.org.

“Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), or simply, diabetes, is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin.

Type – 1  diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. 

Type- 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and many more are unaware they are at high risk. Some groups have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others. Type 2 diabetes is more common in African AmericansLatinos,Native Americans, and Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, as well as the aged population.

In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy. When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can lead to diabetes complications.”

Just because I’m well versed in diabetes knowledge, I do not believe that I have that same knowledge for other conditions (far from it!). My cousin has down syndrome, and because I know of people putting stereotypes on diabetes that have hurt me in the past, I ask questions if I’m not sure instead of make statements to my aunt, uncle, or cousins. To me the learning lesson in all of this is showing compassion to people. The truth is, for the most part, we don’t know what someone else has had to walk through. And let’s be clear, I’m no angel. I have had several days in my life were someone has said something very rude and ignorant to me and without even thinking I give a snarky response back. In my clear mind I know that instead of getting worked up, I need to channel that energy in helping educate that person about the truths of diabetes. Will you join me in telling, writing, whatever creative avenue that you have….to tell YOUR DIABETES STORY!?! This is what will help change the perception of this disease.