where there is no hope, there must be determination PART 2

by Dennis
(Columbia PA, USA.)

Just another day at the office.

Just another day at the office.

Where there is no hope, there must be determination PART 2

March 22

So in the summers from the age of 7 to 12, we would go to diabetic camp. This would help us learn more about the condition and give my mom a break. The camp was not far from Collegeville PA, and was called, Camp Firefly. This was a great place and time each year. We learned all about ourselves, diabetes, and each other. Many kids return each year even though space was limited.

The food and exercise program was controlled by the camp and so was the insulin intake. We had a doctor, several nurses and at least two camp counselors per cabin. It was here in 1960, that my mother and I were told that I was a severely brittle diabetic individual. We already knew this, but they needed or want to prove it.

One bright and sunny morning, as we woke up to see the stream gleaming with the sun and the drew and mist rising, we headed down to see the doctor to get our blood drawn. Now remember, this was not a finger stick, or the nice thin tube fill. No this was the bad part of the camp.

Each morning we would all go down to see the doctor and nurses to get our blood draw with those BIG LONG THICK 10 PENNY NEEDLES AND SYRINGE THAT YOU HAD TO PULL THE BLOOD OUT. So of course, being struck with fear of what I knew would be a nightmare start of a good day, we walked in. Once your name was called, they would put you into this chair that the arms would both move around to the front of you so it would lock you in and there was no way to get out.

Believe me I know this, because I tried with all my strength to be free of this brutal ritual each morning. It was a heavy chair also, so it was hard to move or tilt it, but I did, right over with me in it. Wow, did I get chewed out big time. Now back in the 60's it was alright for anyone to hit you if you misbehaved. So I knew it was coming, but never in a matter like what was about to happen.

As it turns out, my blood test was over 400 and the doctor gave me my syringe to fill with insulin and then inject. But now, without eating breakfast, the camp counselors started to make me run. Around the cabins was a quarter mile. Insulin plus exercise will lower the blood sugar. So in order to keep me running they chased me with a cut off canoe paddle. Each had lots of fun hitting me with that paddle. My butt was welted up pretty good.

So I ran and cried for one hour. I was exhausted, being just seven years old at the time. I don't remember how I got into the infirmary, but I woke up there. The doctor told me that he was going to write a report into the American Medical Journal about this episode. How I went from over 400 to going into a convulsion on the gravel road.

That year I was kept in the infirmary the rest of the time to fix all the cuts I got from rolling on the gravel road during my convulsion and also to help heal my butt before my mom saw it. So when my mom came to pick me up, I thought I was rescued, only to be thrown from the frying pan into the fire. They told her they had to take disciplinary action to make me do what I was suppose to do. Then to top it all off, they gave her a bill for each day I was in the infirmary.

My mom flipped out at me and started screaming and hitting me. Then I told her what really happened to me, and my friends came to bat for me and told her too. I thought she was going to have a heart

attack right their. Now all the parents were there to pick up there children and my mom was going toe to toe with the doctor and the camp administrator. Mom was only 5' tall, but you would want her on your side if the going got tough.

The room got quiet and every parent was watching and listening to my mom for what he and the administrator approved of. Soon people started to come and talk with me and my mom and asked what happened. Within minutes the doctor and administrator had their hands full from other concerned parents. THAT DAY, AS WE GOT INTO THE CAR I FOUND RESPECT. KNEW WHAT IT WAS AND WHAT IT MEANT. i FOUND IT IN MY MOM.

Need less to say, that the bill for the infirmary was dropped or lost and we were invited back again the next year. At this time, summer was almost over and it is time to get ready for school. Now most kids I knew were excited to get back into school and the next grade up. That was not the case with me. You see I just did not fit in. I was a misfit, an outcast, a retard.

I was the kid that would have convulsions in gym class, at lunch, at recess, almost any time of the day. You might know what I am talking about. Kids would come up right into your face and act like they were have a seizure and walk down the hall laughing. I did not get it and still to this day can't understand the mentality of some people. How they find it funny, when someone is in pain, suffering or have a serious illness.

I could have become a loner, but that was not me. I like people and wanted to fit in even today. So I found several other misfits and we became close. One person was Frank McMahon, his father Ed McMahon of the Tonight Show, was one, for what I did not know, nor did it matter. So it would seem to be hopeless that we would ever fit in, but we were so determined to try.

We would tease the girls and steel the hang ball from the jocks and run like hell. We soon found out that the jocks could not run fast at all. Maybe it was because their lives did not depend upon it like ours did. One thing back then, the teachers were not trained to understand or know what to do if our sugar went low. By the time I was eight years old I had twenty convulsions, mainly because they did not get it. I needed to eat a snack before recess, before gym class, and before lunch.

Our lunch was at one O’clock and the long lasting insulin, which by now was U80 NPH and U80 Regular, was peeking. I would try to sneak a candy bar out of my book bag and eat it without anyone seeing me. But I would get caught and the food thrown away and you guessed it. Even the kids in the class would tell the teachers that I needed to eat, but there were no special privileges allow in that school.

By the time I was in fourth grade, I was in a class, get this, of SEVENTY-FIVE KIDS, (not done yet) AND MY MOTHER WAS THE TEACHER. That year she decided that it was time that the kids knew all about diabetes. So she taught a class on it and what to do if someone acts funny. The class was a hit with the kids but not the administration, because she was not a health teacher and should not be teaching things that she does not know.

Well my mom went toe to toe with the principal and won. The next week my mom and I (I was the dummy falling off the chair in a convulsion) taught grades 3-12 about diabetes. I soon became the expert starting in grade 7, teaching grades 7-12 in another school. I started to fit in a little.

More to come


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