Finding Support for T1D at Camp

By Mark Carter

Spring break during my freshman year in college was a time I will never forget. Unfortunately, the memories I have are not of a beach in Florida, but of a nurse telling me that my blood sugar was 750 and that I needed to be on insulin.

It was like a tornado ripped through my life and destroyed everything in its path. I was going to have to relearn everything. Type 1 diabetes began as curse. Luckily, that eventually changed over time.

There have been many days over the past 18 years that I struggled with loneliness and with people who just didn’t understand what I was dealing with. I didn’t want to talk about it or deal with the daily grind of managing my disease. My family members didn’t even know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

I would come to see that living with type 1 diabetes was a gift, one that has allowed me to understand and empathize with many who know the pains of checking blood sugars, counting carbs and having many highs and lows. Diabetes wasn’t going to control my life and tell me how to live!

Changing my worldview meant changing my support group and adding people to my life that really wanted to live life with me. Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend an adult diabetes camp, the Camp Endres Getaway with Diabetes Solutions.

Camp was incredible! I can’t even describe how much I needed to be at this camp. It was the first time in my life that I had been around 30 people from the ages of 19 to 49 who lived with type 1 diabetes.

After the weekend I realized just how important it was for me to meet others that were struggling with the same things and were okay talking about real life issues. It was a safe place to ask questions, chat, eat, and laugh.

I walked away from camp refreshed and ready to conquer the type 1 diabetes world. I kept asking myself, “How many more people need to be at camp to talk about issues with diabetes? How many people are struggling and don’t have anybody to talk to?”

Our many talks over the weekend helped me refocus on being passionate and positive in helping others with diabetes. Camp reminded me that I have a huge responsibility to be an ambassador for those who don’t have a voice, and to pass on this knowledge to others.