Bryan and I took Nikki to diabetes camp today. This was her 7th year, which is hard to believe. She’s always loved it – but the last two years I’ve seen some amazing friendships emerge for her. It’s almost like this particular group of kids suddenly realized that they had several years of d-camp history behind them and truly bonded.
Of course, social networking and texting since they’ve become teenagers has helped them maintain communication throughout the year, not just one week a year – definitely strengthening their friendships. Nikki has been over-the-top with excitement – bordering on GIDDY – as today approached.
For a week every year, she does not have to explain diabetes or celiac disease to anyone. No questions about her pump, stares as she checks her blood sugar, tries to convince her she can eat "a little gluten" or those wonderful questions like “can you eat that” when she wants a cookie. She is just like everyone else. That is something quite priceless. Diabetes camp has been a life changing, self-esteem building experience. It is one that Nikki literally depends on and absolutely thrives on.
Probably one of the hardest things we’ve ever done as parents was drop her off that first year, at 8 years old and walk away; leaving her life and happiness in the hands of complete strangers. Thank GOD we did. Of course, we have to give some credit for our being able to do that to her wonderful dance teacher, Pattiann – as well as Pattiann’s daughter Hailie. I’ve mentioned them before, but when Nikki was diagnosed at 5 years old these two marvelous people were a great source of strength for her. They both have T1D and were truly there for Nikki. Hailie’s love of D-Camp made it something Nikki couldn’t wait to be old enough to do; which, in turn, helped Nikki become the amazingly strong young lady and diabetes/celiac advocate that she is.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of diabetes camp for T1D kids. As parents, it’s so incredibly hard for us to let go of our children; but it’s even harder when they have life threatening illnesses that we feel no one else but “ME” is qualified to care for. Yet, as parents it is just as important for us to know when we MUST let go in order to give our children the opportunities that can change their lives in ways we just can’t imagine.
GOD is good.