Welcome back! My last few entries have been a little heavy so I decided to lighten it up a little bit. I hope you enjoy this installment!
I have held many non-traditional positions in my 29 years as a Registered Nurse but none have been as fun as being a camp nurse at a residential camp for children with diabetes. I spent 2 summers at camp. My first summer was shortly after I graduated nursing school. I had been a camper at Camp Glyndon, in Reisterstown, Maryland the year after I was diagnosed. It was the life experience that had the most impact on my life as a diabetic, even to this day. I had been to summer camp before but that was prior to developing diabetes. I had a good time. How could you not? It was located on the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. But Glyndon was different. All the kids had diabetes. Many of the staff, as well, were diabetics themselves. A hypo was not a catastrophe or something that induced panic and hand wringing among the adults. You had a hypo – as is magical, someone appeared with a fanny pack of antidotes – a meter, Lorna Doones and Glutose. While you were being tested and treated life went on around you. No crowds of onlookers like a 10 car collision had just occurred on the highway. gathered around gawking at the kid with the pale face and sweat pouring down his head. Nope! Non of that. Just you and your personal “St. Bernard” taking care of business. Swimming, kickball, archery, tennis, arts and crafts continued. With any luck in 10 minutes you were back in the fray. Like I said, camp was the experience that had the most influence on how I lived the rest of my life as a PWD. So, after I became a Registered Nurse, I felt it was only right to return to camp and join the care team. More about that summer and my first summer as a camper later.
This installment takes place many years later. I was in between jobs, it was Spring and Glyndon was hiring for the Summer. I applied and was hired. By this time I had become a CDE. The DON and I were the only CDE qualified nurses on staff. Now, because Glyndon is located outside of Baltimore and associated with Lifebridge-Sinai Hospital the camp was also a learning environment for Resident doctors who were working on their Fellowships in Endocrinology. They would come and spend a week or two on staff learning about intensive insulin therapy, pump protocols and everything else involved with both the clinical and psycho-social aspects of living with diabetes as an adolescent in an immersive 24/7 environment.
Normally, the visiting residents bunked in the Doctor’s Cabin and the nurses bunked in the Nurse’s Cabin. I was the only residential nurse that summer. All the other nurses lived off campus. I had the Nurse’s Cabin all to myself for most of the Summer. The exception was the last session of camp when one of the Fellows decided he would bunk with me. Cool. I didn’t have to stay in the 4 room cabin by myself.
Now, if you have ever been to camp you know that there are is A LOT of mischief that occurs that is usually perpetrated by the counselors. Pranks are played on other counselors, staff and sometimes the campers. I was never the target. That was about to change. Word got back to me, through the grapevine, that the counselors were planning an ambush on the Nurse’s cabin that night. Because we were on call 24 hours we had to keep our front door unlocked so a counselor could get us in the event of a nocturnal hypo or other emergency. That was just an open invitation. I don’t like pranks in any shape or form. I especially don’t like things that interfere with me sleeping. This was definitely going to interfere with me sleeping.
That day, the Fellow and I had the morning/day shift. So, when the shift was over, after filling him in on the threat, I disappeared into town. Upon my return I was bearing two large super soaker water guns. These were the ones that held 2 liters of water. I stashed our weapons and went to the dining hall. I quickly located a bottle of red food coloring. The nice thing about the kitchen was everything was in institutional size. So I procured a small bottle of red food coloring and returned to the bunk. Operation Counselor’s Last Stand was in play.
For the next hour we prepped the bunk. The backside of the bunk abutted a tree line. The counselors had disclosed, earlier in the season, that they would sneak in the bunk by coming through the windows in the back. (If you know me then you know that I hear everything and remember all of it because you never know when you may need that information. Case in point.) First step was to make sure that there was no access to the bunk via the back windows. I like to play fair, most of the time, So instead of securing the windows we left them alone. What we did do was secure the room door so that it would not open from the inside. A trapped counselor was as good as no counselor. The rest would have to wait until lights out.
After lights out we returned to our bunk. I had brought some “party poppers” with me. You never know when you might need them. These were like the Snap & Pop things that you throw onto a hard surface and they “explode” – these, however, had strings on each end to pull them to activate. I had about 100 of them. We went to work. We locked the far door, forcing them to use the near door. To that door we secured one string to the door and the other string to the door frame. All 100! Next we mixed the food coloring into the bottles of the super soakers. We had learned form our mole that the counselors were planning to ambush us by coming to the bunk and telling us that there was an emergency in one of the cabins. When we emerged from the bunk they would be there with water guns to assault us. As they say, “best laid plans of mice and men” or this case, counselors.
The time had come. One of the other toys I had packed for the Summer was a night vision scope. Hey, we were in the woods, I want to see whatever I can at night. I was in my room in the front of the cabin. The lights were off and it appeared as if we had retired for the night. IN my pitch back room, I peered through my window with my night vision scope – out into the darkness. Like creatures of the night, the counselors appeared and gathered about 20 feet away. It was not uncommon for previous counselors to come back and visit. As it turns out, the ring leader was one of those visitors. He had a reputation for being a master prankster and he thought it would be fun to get one over on the Nurse and Fellow. They were all gathered around their General. Then orders had been given and one lone counselor heads to the far door, prepared to announce the need for a medico in her bunk. Remember, the far door was locked. At this point, the Fellow and I were hiding outside our rooms, guns pumped and ready to spray. Off to the near door she went. She turned the knob, pushed the door open and prepared to walk in. Surprise one worked like a charm, or in this case, an explosion. All 100 poppers erupted almost in unison. As soon as the noise ceased, the troops outside realize that their General had underestimated the enemy. The order to charge was given, literally!
They only had access through one door. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. They were not expecting us to be in the living room. The plan was that we were to be asleep in our rooms. As we had anticipated, we heard the doors to the back rooms trying to be opened. Foiled! As the counselors, and their General, herded into the living room, we erupted our guns with red colored sprays. They were taken by surprise. As quickly as they entered they ran to the other door…opened it and escaped to regroup. We quickly made sure the doors both were locked then turned the lights on and assessed the situation. Round one to the medicos. We checked the rooms we had secured. No enemy. But to our surprise, one of the counselors was hiding in the Fellow’s room. He was quickly dispatched after a thorough soaking and staining. He was ejected and we locked the door again. Lights out!
They were still out there. The General was trying to form a new plan. They never thought that they would need a plan B. With the lights out they could not see us inside. I watched them through the night vision. I went and grabbed my camera’s flash gun. Turned it on and waited for the ready light. In the meantime, I turned the boom box on, full volume, blasting Yello’s “Oh Yeah” on repeat. You know Oh Yeah. The song that is played in Ferris Beuller’s Day off when the parking attendant take the car for a ride.
I watched them planning and scheming. Then they moved. They crept up to the cabin and tried to peak through the windows. I let them look. They couldn’t see anything. Then I took the flash gun, pressed it against the window’s glass and fired the flash. Once, twice, three times. Screams erupted from the counselors. Foiled, again! This went on for several minutes. Finally, accepting defeat, everyone returned to their bunks and there was Peace at last.
The next morning, the Fellow and I arrived early to breakfast. Then the walk of shame began. One by one, the counselors involved in the Counselor’s Last Stand, filed into the dining hall. Each one stained with red food coloring. If you have ever been stained with it you know it take days to get off your skin. The medicos had won. By the way, the mole was the DON.
I hope you enjoyed this little ditty. If so then please share it with others or leave a comment and please subscribe to my blog. If you hate it – the leave me a comment and tell me why. Then subscribe so you can see if you hate the next one. I may surprise you.
Until next time –