Growing up in Western Oklahoma

By Ashley Oakes Baldwin

I’m 32 years old, and have had diabetes for over 25 years now. I was diagnosed in the second grade. At the time, I was the ONLY person in my county in western Oklahoma with Type 1 diabetes.

We spent two weeks in the ICU for treatment and education. At the time, my mother did not even know how to give a shot, so I was giving them to myself by the time we left the hospital. That’s just a glimpse into what some might call my stubborn charm. I’m pretty sure I injected the practice orange so full of tea, Diet Coke, and water that it was close to bursting.

The whole town welcomed us back home. We didn’t have a school nurse, so all the teachers learned how to manage my diabetes.

Fast forwarding to junior high, I was finally able to get an insulin pump, which changed my life. Finally, I was free from carrying syringes and insulin around with me.

I played in every sport that THS offered: Basketball, softball, and cheerleading. Specifically, softball was my passion, and I ended up landing a scholarship to Oklahoma State University to play softball there. I eventually graduated with a Bachelor’s in Nursing from the University of Oklahoma, and later graduated from Graceland University with a Masters of Science in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner. I’m now married with a child.

I started attending diabetes camp back in 1992 when I was just nine. I really admired the doctors, nurses, and crazy dietitians (you know who you are, Dr. Hal). I hoped I could be that awesome one day. Having diabetes and attending Camp Endres are the two major reasons I’m in the medical field today.

I’ve been going to camp ever since then, other than missing a few years for college sports and last summer to have my precious baby girl. In fact, I feel like a couple of the years they had to make up a job for me. In all reality, I would be fine staying on as a camper forever, but I’m now on the medical staff team as a Nurse Practitioner. #Camperatheart

Diabetes does not define me. It is a part of me, just like taking a shower and eating. Most people I meet don’t even know I have diabetes unless I bring it up. It’s just second nature at this point, and I’m fine with that.