Thursday, 3 March 2016

Diabetes UK Care Event

When I was diagnosed I knew no-one with diabetes apart from a few people I occasionally passed in the corridor at school. I quickly turned to Facebook groups for support, which helped a lot and I got a lot of new knowledge from them. I learned what an insulin pump was, how to deal with exercise, and someone also shared a post about Diabetes UK Care Events. When I researched these events, I instantly wanted to go, so when I got a place on the 16-18 care event in Cumbria, I was ecstatic!

Before I went, I posted on a Facebook group asking if anyone was going, and a few people replied, among those was Lydia. About 4 weeks before the Care event was due to begin, Lydia asked if anyone lived near Largs, which is a town really nearby to where I live in Ayrshire.

We met up before the event, so when we both arrived we at least knew someone that was there, which made the first steps a lot less daunting!

On arrival, everyone was showed their villa which was to be shared with 3 other campers and 2 volunteers. Then there was an induction where the volunteers told us how everything was going to work. This was a good chance to meet everyone as we were all together at the same time, but me being shy sat in a corner and didn't say anything unless I was asked an outright question! Meeting everyone made things a lot less scary though, and everyone was more at ease after comparing their diabetes stories.

Throughout the week there was a range of activities, ranging from bowling (which I lost by a long shot!) to Ghyll scrambling (which was very cold but sooo fun!). One of the nights each villa had to plan a roast dinner. This meant we had to buy all the ingredients from the shop and compete against each other for house points (they had a competition the whole week where we competed for house points). This was fun because it taught us how to budget, my roommate Steph taught me how to cook, and even though I messed up my only job, MY VILLA WON! 

During the night we had free time where we would all congregate in someone's villa and play games like "never have I ever" (without the alcohol!) and "truth or dare". The social aspect of the camp was, in my opinion, the best part of the holiday. You get to act like a normal teenager, but everyone has the same thing in common, so while we were there having diabetes was the norm.

On the second last day, the whole group went swimming together. It was just another swimming session. We all checked our blood sugar before we went in, left our pumps in the lockers and headed straight for the biggest, highest flume in the whole swimming pool. When I was in the queue for the flume, I felt slightly hypo, but I stayed in the queue because my hypo treatment was closer to the bottom of the flume so it would've taken longer to go back down the stairs. My camp mates decided to have a race down the slide, so I went down, feeling awful. Unfortunately half way down the slide I had a seizure and had to get pulled from the water by a lifeguard - he saw that I never came back to the surface at the bottom of a slide. All I remember is waking up groggy surrounded by people. They even called an air ambulance for me!

Everyone around me told me afterwards that they were all really upset for me. I was in the right place though! There were diabetes specialist nurses, doctors and other people with diabetes; so I knew I was in good hands. I was coddled a little bit when I got back, everyone was worried but I knew everyone cared.

For me, this was a big part of the holiday, but I got so much more from the holiday! I got lifelong friends, bonded by diabetes. I've recently met up with my best friends from the camp, Grant and Lydia. I have also met up with Hanna (who came across from Sweden for the camp) when she was visiting Scotland. I honestly cannot recommend the care events enough, and I enjoyed it that much that I even went a second time!

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My name is Alyssa Faulkner. I am a Type 1 Diabetic Teen living in Scotland. I currently use a Medtronic insulin pump and an Enlite CGM, and am a volunteer for Diabetes Scotland.