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Diabetes Camp for Adults – SoCal Slipstream Through Libby’s Eyes

By November 22, 2017Fresh Air Blog

The final Slipstream weekend (CIM’s Diabetes Camp for Adults) of 2017 wrapped up just a few short weeks ago in sunny Southern California! We spent October 27-29 on Catalina Island for CIM’s third annual (and largest yet!) SoCal Slipstream. An incredible group of more than 60 adults with T1D made the trip over from the mainland to join us for an island adventure.

One of those individuals is Libby Rome, a first-time Slipstream and diabetes camp attendee and new member to the T1D community. Libby wrote about her experience at SoCal Slipstream, and shared on her personal blog. We’re excited to share some highlights from her blog post to give you a first-hand perspective of a Slipstream weekend. To read the full blog, or to find out more about Libby’s T1D journey, visit her personal blog.

Libby at SoCal Slipstream

In Libby's Own Words

I just had my first ever camping experience, and it was AMAZING! I attended a Type 1 diabetes camp – an adults-only Slipstream weekend with Connected in Motion. The weekend included outdoor activities and opportunities to socialize, learn, and share diabetes experiences.  We took a ferry to a camp on Catalina Island, just outside of Los Angeles, California.

I wanted to attend this event for several reasons, including to:

• Connect with others who live with T1D

• Learn as much as possible about managing T1D

• Get back to being active and fit

• Have a holiday with some fresh air

• Be on a boat and an island

• Experience Diabetes Camp (and camp in general) for the first time

The weekend met all of these desires, plus much more. I laughed, I learned, I got inspired. I ate, I exercised, I slept, I wept, and I connected.

I learned.

The first book I read after being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) in June 2017 was Bright Spots and Landmines by Adam Brown. I didn’t know this when I signed up for SoCal Slipstream, but Adam was one of the speakers at the event. He shared useful tips from his book, which looks at Food, Mindset, Exercise, and Sleep in relation to blood sugar management. One simple tip I found useful is to stop considering pricking my finger as a “test,” but rather a “check” of my blood sugar. A test implies that I could pass or fail. A check implies gathering a number simply for data analysis. No judgment, no emotions.

Adam also had a session on the latest trends in technology to manage T1D. Between that session and many discussions with other Slipstream attendees (who are actual users of the technology), I learned about the different options available, as well as real-life pros and cons for each.

Although only about 1/3 people with T1D wear pumps, I think around 55 out of the 60 people attending the weekend wore pumps (I assume it’s because this group is a bit more active and also working hard to control their diabetes). Most members of the group also had a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) attached to them.

The weekend actually convinced me to move forward with trying both a CGM and a pump. I am going to request to see an endocrinologist (a tip from everyone!) and try out different devices. I also learned about DIY options that are quite interesting and that I’ll be researching and sharing as I go. I gained many other tips, tricks, and general wisdom from people who have had diabetes for many years.

LIbby and Adam Brown

I exercised.

It didn’t feel like exercise! It felt like having fun and enjoying life! I enjoyed yoga on the dock first thing in the morning. I loved listening to the waves and seagulls while moving, stretching, and breathing in the cool, clean air.

Later, I went on what was described as a “moderate-level” hike. I was quite winded the whole way because I haven’t been in my regular fitness routine for several months.  In the end, I’m glad I challenged myself and did it.

My favorite activity was kayaking. I had never tried it before, and my new T1D friend Gayle helped me get started. I loved moving around the water in my little kayak, and on such a beautiful day with ideal weather.

Libby Kayaking

I wept.

The weekend brought out an intense, complex set of emotions in me. I was doing fine emotionally for the first 24 hours. Then I walked away from the group after dinner, feeling pretty down, both physically and emotionally. I began to cry and couldn’t stop for about an hour. I was finally able to compose myself, just long enough to get back to my cabin and cry some more. Then my suite-mate Kathi walked in. She kindly sat with me and said all the things I needed to hear.

The next day, I attended a session about diabetes and mental health. I actually wasn’t going to attend because I really wanted to try archery. However, I had hurt my hand in a fall the day before, so I chose to go to this session instead. Thank goodness!

Mark Heyman, a diabetes psychologist who has T1D himself, led the session. He started by asking the group if anyone had anything they wanted to discuss. I started to cry as soon as I just thought about speaking up. A few minutes later, I shared with the group that I was basically bedridden with depression and anxiety for the first few months after I was first diagnosed with T1D. I’m doing much better, but it’s still a challenge coping. I listened intently as many people offered kind words of advice and support. This was the best therapy session I could have asked for. I learned so much from the stories and tips people shared, and my heart grew bigger from all the support people provided me and each other.

I also wept for others, as unfortunately there are a lot of sad stories in the world of T1D.  Generally everyone looks on the bright side though, and there were lots of hugs available for any consoling needed.

Group Eat

I connected.

This was my first time physically meeting others with T1D. Our disease enabled an instant connection, and many of those connections became deeper as we talked.  I suddenly have a large network of people I can call on to ask a question or just to say hi.  I previously felt like I could handle this disease by myself, along with a few connections on Facebook. However, this new network provides an invaluable abundance of support and experience.  Simply being connected to others again has given me new hope and perspective.

Guess who’s planning on going to future Slipstreams?  Me!!!