There was camp. There were no tears.

While we were waiting for the camp buses to arrive, V was eating her lunch. “Mom, can I have just two more fries?” I giggled: “Sure, your high is not going to be MY problem today.”

Because diabetes camp. It finally happened. V went to a sleep-away diabetes camp for 5 days and it was grand.

Things got tense a few weeks before camp.  A big wildfire happened very close to the camp grounds. Fortunately it did not damage the camp, but the roads were closed for a while and there was a lot of uncertainty. Then the area in and around camp had to be evaluated for stability and risk of landslides. At the beginning of this ordeal, one session was moved to an alternate location, but session right before ours had to be cancelled completely. We did not get an official word until 4 days before our start date and I was practically on pins and needles. I refused to look at the packing list and any other last-minute paperwork, due to the fear of jinxing it, until we knew for sure V would be able to go.

This camp is a big deal, really big deal. It’s one place where kids with diabetes can be among their peers, where they can feel normal. It’s also one camp that we felt completely safe sending V to, especially considering that they were also able to accommodate her gluten-free diet. This place is truly a safe haven for both kids and their parents. We were sure that V would be well and thriving and we could safely get off the on-call duty. V was really looking forward to it too. She was a little nervous, as it would be her first time at a sleep-away camp, but mostly excited.

In the few days leading up to camp, my excitement reached a ridiculous level, borderlining on annoying. I was practically bursting from happiness and anticipation. Once we had the official word that camp would be open, we began frantic last-minute preparations. It did not help that practically overnight V decided to go through a major growth spurt and outgrew all her shoes, save for flip-flops, and all of her jeans. She needed some other items, so day before camp we hit Target and came out victorious $200 later.

New shoes and sleeping bag and toiletries, or my...

New shoes and sleeping bag and toiletries, or my…

Then there was a tedious process of labeling all the things and packing. There was not, however, the agony of assembling all the diabetes supplies. All we needed to provide was spare pump pods and batteries. Rest of supplies was provided by camp. That alone – not having to pack all the diabetes paraphernalia before a trip – was worth it.

At the drop-off, there was no worry or hesitation of letting go. There was only excitement, happiness and gratitude that V was going to have this wonderful freedom and adventure away from home, in a safe and caring environment. And there was also a celebration of our freedom. We were going go take a break from diabetes management for the first time in over two years!

Who is excited for camp? These Moms are!

Who is excited for camp? These Moms are!

Let me tell you, it was glorious. We slept through the night, every night. I did not bring the phone to my bedside because I had nothing to monitor. We heard not a single pump or CGM alarm. We did not have to lug diabetes supplies around. We had not a care in the world. We even escaped for a quick romantic getaway to celebrate our anniversary, all by ourselves.

His and Hers

His and Hers

At the pick-up, we were greeted by a tired and excited camper. She had a blast. Her numbers were not stellar, but that was not the point. In fact, the paperwork from camp reminded us about it:

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On the drive back we had a million questions about V’s camp experience. Only two of them had to do with diabetes management. We wanted to know if someone tested them in the middle of the night (affirmative). The other question was about… wait… I can’t remember. Maybe there was not another question about diabetes?  The rest was all about the friends she made and the fun she had. When asked about what it was like to be among other kids with diabetes, without skipping a beat she answered “It was great, I didn’t get asked any stupid questions, like if I got diabetes because I ate too much sugar.” And, speaking from the mouth of the babes, this brief letter from camp says it all:

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Happy camper

Happy camper

Like music to my ears.

“Hi Polina,
Dr. N reviewed the results of V’s labs and reports the following:
EMA IgA antibody is now entirely negative (was positive) and TTG IgA antibody continues to trend down and is close to normal (was 22, is now 14, with normal < 10) Indicating dietary adherence and mucosal healing. This is all very good news 🙂
Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.

Best,
RN J,
Gastroenterology Care Coordinator”

Everybody say HELL YEAH!

You probably have no idea what this means unless you are familiar with Celiac. These labs are part of regular Celiac panel, something that V has to do at least annually, sometimes every 6 months. You can read more about Celiac screening, including the labs she had, here. At the time of diagnosis almost two years ago, all numbers were through the roof. When V did the labs about 8 months ago, her results were still elevated but significantly decreased compared to when she was initially diagnosed. We were supposed to repeat labs a couple of months ago but it got delayed because V had a major glutening incident: she accidentally had a whole regular bagel. So we were instructed to wait at least 3 more months to re-test.

All this time I was a little concerned. Were we on the right track? I knew we were doing well with food at home, but were we careful enough about cross-contamination? We designated a special area in the kitchen for regular bread. We acquired separate toaster oven and George Forman grill for gluten-free prep. But what if that is not enough? What if, despite carefully selecting restaurants and foods, V is still getting exposed to gluten when we eat out?

Dr. N – V’s gastroenterologist – reassured us at our last appointment that complete healing can take up to two years, and that it was normal to not see negative results until then. She said that if the labs keep trending down, then all is good. If the numbers are not decreasing, then she will recommend we see a dietician, because “gluten-free diet is difficult.”

Say what? Cue Amy Winehouse. I don’t want to go to rehab… I mean dietician. No, no, no. I won’t go, go, go. Been there, done that. There’s nothing they can tell us that we don’t already know about gluten-free diet. No, gluten-free diet is not difficult. We got it. It’s not the foods that we are giving V that we are concerned about. It’s the other foods that we may not be adequately protecting her from that worry us.

We can breathe a huge sigh of relief now. V’s innards are obviously on the mend, we are doing things right, and we don’t need to go to a dietician.

Also, major props to Dr. N for choosing the word “adherence” over “compliance.”

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V is enjoying gluten-free pancake breakfast after successful lab draw for Celiac.