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December 14, 2012

When Kerri first emailed us the questions for the hope vs. fear video, I wasn’t sure I could do it.  When I hear fear associated with diabetes, I jump to a place.  A horrible place.

After we finished the roundtable discussion on Tuesday, we had an awesome lunch break where we talked more about diabetes.  Not that two hours isn’t enough, it’s just that some things don’t need to go on camera.  Part of this was Kerri explaining what the one on one interviews were going to be like, and what we were going to be talking about.  I was going first so that I wouldn’t be late for the kids and Kerri asked “Do you have anything to say about fear?”

Do I ever.  Do I like talking about fear & diabetes.  Hell no.  If I talk about it too much I start to get overwhelmed by the details and I stop living my life.  So I don’t like to think about it.  I was an impressionable kid.  I loved camp and I didn’t know how anyone could not love camp.  I knew there were people who didn’t, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.  Once you went to camp there was no way I’d ever not be there (HA!)  So imagine the shock of a lifetime when we got to camp one summer and one of the counselor’s was no longer there.  We knew that counselors came & went, but she wasn’t that kind of counselor.  We asked where she was.  During the course of those 50 weeks since we last saw each other, Jill had passed away. I don’t even know how old I was when this happened, but this is the story I remember.  It may not be 100% accurate since it was so long ago, but this is how it made an impression on me.  She was a college student and she was sick.  It was a holiday weekend, but she didn’t go home.  Since the insulin therapy was different then, you HAD to eat if you had insulin.  She was so sick that she couldn’t eat and/or couldn’t take her insulin.  Over the course of that weekend she passed away because she couldn’t get that insulin.  Her roommates found her when they came back.

Jill.  Courtesy of an old camp friend Katie.

Jill. Courtesy of an old camp friend Katie.

When I get sick, she is the first person I think of.  I immediately want to go home to Mom & Dad because then that won’t happen.  I know that insulin & diabetes is different now, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t scare the living shit out of me.  Those hospital stays, guess who I was thinking of.  Coming out of them, I felt guilty.  But would I have taken it as seriously as I do if it weren’t for Jill?  I will never know.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. mom permalink
    December 14, 2012 3:21 PM

    You did very well remembering the details of that summer. On our side, we were shocked to receive a letter from you. As you previously were having too much fun to bother writing letters! But that letter told us about Jill. I had to call camp to find out the how and why. My first question to the camp director was if it was diabetes related, and it was. Unfortunately, because Jill did so well with her diabetes management, she was a residebt counselor and had a single room in college. That, along with becoming ill over a long week-end, resulted in her passing. As your camp counselors were taking care of all of you who knew and loved Jill, the parents were not informed. Yet this was our worst nightmare. It was a very difficult time away from you that summer, for us.
    When you were in college and had the room mate from hell, and were begging for a single, we were adamant that you have a roomate. We felt that anyone in your room, was better than your being alone. The fear you discussed is there of course, but when we think about that fear, and what can be done to prevent or alter, the fear does lessen.

  2. December 17, 2012 4:30 PM

    Wow. I’m reading what you wrote and then reading what your mom wrote as I look back at my own life. From early 1997 (the year after I graduated college) until 2004 when I got married, I lived alone in my apartment. All but one of those years I was out-of-state from my parents. All but one of those years (not the same year) I had no other friends living in my building.

    My mother was noticeably terrified during those years, but in retrospect, was not-noticeably terrified. I once had a midnight hypo that I was able to bring myself out of (after collapsing in the kitchen and possibly giving myself a concussion) but after speaking to my parents the next morning, they still called an ambulance to take me to the ER. Yes, I was on Regular and NPH at the time and not the basal/bolus regimen of today.

    Thanks to your stories about Jill and your mom’s story about you, I can better appreciate what the loved ones of PWD’s go through (I already know what we go through ourselves). It’s horribly sad what happened to Jill, but it’s comforting to know that her story continues to be told and to educate others.

    Thank you both for sharing this.


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