Notes on Camp

Pure Camp is always naive. Camp which knows itself to be Camp (“camping”) is usually less satisfying. From Susan Sontag’s Notes on “Camp.”

Last week I went to diabetes camp. I was naive and it was exhilarating.

Picture this: as an after-dinner surprise, a counselor’s friend’s band performs outside, in front of the dining hall. Everyone dances. A circle forms. A teenager who is normally kind of shy does The Worm across the circle. The song is Sugar Magnolia. A little girl does a cartwheel. The crowd goes wild. More kids cartwheel and backbend and front handspring across the circle, shirts riding up, pumps clipped to waistbands. Other kids do The Whip, or tango across together. That song ends and a Cindy Lou Hoo of a girl asks the stubbly-beard band guys to play Taylor Swift. Initially the band seems surprised (are the children not dead heads?), but then goes right into Shake it Off, and fluently. When the time comes for the campy rap/this sick beat, the lead singer aims the mic toward the crowd, and the crowd takes over while the band stops, right up to the whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-ohhh and then starts up again, even louder than before.

Or this: I didn’t have to think of what to cook or eat for almost an entire week.

So it was mostly exhilarating, and possibly also a tiny bit instructive. Like this (all details blurred and changed):

At meals, I helped a wee eight-year-old figure out her insulin. She was a fascinating person, on a molecular level. By that I mean she was totally into her rainbow loom, but seemed to have slow-mo (can a second-grader get D in slow-mo?) LADA. Her regimen included one unit of Lantus and, at meals, one unit of Humalog per 100g CHO, delivered via pen. Pens with no half units. So she only took insulin with meals if she ate more than 50g CHO, which was practically never. She took no corrections. Her BG never went over 200 mg/dL. I asked her when she’d been diagnosed, assuming the answer would be approximately “last week.” But no. She’d been diagnosed three years ago. WHAT?

This made me think of my favorite barely diabetic person. Could I do what Miss Teeny-tiny does? Should I want to? I’m about three times her size and five times her age; maybe one unit or so of Lantus would safely bloop me down so I don’t wake up in the hmmm zone. And might an occasional unit of Humalog allow me to have—what would I even choose?—Heath Bar Flurry—without a dramatic, sickening rollercoaster? (Although why invite a Heath Bar Flurry into my life? It’s not like I need to eat junk food to fit in with my peers, who only ever eat almond butter and kale.)

The boys insisted I hadn't found the Waldo in the poster, that I'd found a lady, and even though she had Waldo's outfit and hair, her eyeglass frames were the wrong shape.

They’re watching Say Yes to the Dress, and a labradoodle came to visit. It was pretty great.


Almost immediately upon my return to parenting, the guys and I were in the ER. The last time we were in the ER was for the D dx. This time we were there with an ungraspable splinter.

(Our urgent care center had closed for the day. Our pediatrician’s office sent us to the ER, because they didn’t have the right tools to remove ungraspable splinters.) (It turns out this procedure can require an entire tray of scalpels and sterile drapes and things.)

We checked in and waited. You might wait a long time in an ER to have a splinter removed. Many families came and waited and were called into exam rooms before our turn came. I was sure all of the families who were not overtly bleeding had T1d: the Dad in the horn-rimmed glasses and Duran Duran shirt, skulking in alone with a backpack full of overnight supplies for his spouse and son who I’m sure were upstairs, flipping through the Pink Panther book. The forlorn family staring at the helmet safety mural while eating Doritos, who I’m sure were thinking these are our last Doritos.

Four hours and many imaginary D dramas later, the splinter was out. It was huge. We were sent home with three spare bandaids and advice to not swim for two days. That was easy.





  1. type1dmom · June 27, 2015

    I am glad you had a good time. I wonder if the interesting 8 yr old has MODY? Also, I am glad splinter was removed and I am so jealous of in and out of the ER in only four hours. Although that does seem like a long time for a splinter.


  2. Scott E · June 27, 2015

    Sometimes, I use my lancets (off label) to remove ungraspable splinters. I just poke over and over at the highest depth setting until the crater is large enough that the splinter just falls out. Having an abundant surplus of those sterile, surgical tools on hand is one of the perks of having diabetes.

    Disclaimer: Not medical advice — don’t try this at home.

    Postscript: It usually doesn’t work. (But now that I think about it, the larger, stronger, expired Glucagon syringe needles might. Just purge the solution from the syringe first. Again, not medical advice)


  3. type1tot · June 28, 2015

    I LOVE cover bands- which all bands are at times, the good times. You are lucky.
    And! Sorry! Bad friend! I keep forgetting you have…diabetes? I still don’t get it. Went to interesting talk a few days ago about latest d-stuff. Sure the encapsulated stuff, sounds cool, we’ll see. But more tangible was GLP-1 receptor agonists- used now in T2D, but it seems to preserve islet cell function, a and b, so why not try in T1D? Just saying. Side effects- weight loss. You have no weight to lose, but. It IS summer. what’ s a few week experiment w a little weight loss going to hurt?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Katy · June 28, 2015

      You had me at weight loss! I’ll ask the doctor I see at Joslin if I can have it.


  4. Lucia Maya · June 28, 2015

    Love this. And though I hated (regular) camp as a child, I think an adult diabetes camp could be fun…

    I so enjoy your writing, thanks!


  5. skchrisman · June 29, 2015

    I was thinking of you all week and anticipated this post! I”m afraid I would have danced to Shake It Off. Sounds like you had a blast! Ouch —> splinter. Can he sit on his bum properly?

    One more week! FFL!


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