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Countdown to Camp

On July 26 I will be insane.   Back up….on July 26 I will be more insane then my normal level of insanity.   I had a taste of it last weekend when I was frantically preparing for camp.  I was not organized and I was freaking (and I mean FREAKING) out that I couldn’t find all the supplies I ordered.  I forgot where Dave, our inventory guy, told me they would be.  I ran all over, sobbing a couple of times.  I hate deadlines and I usually have everything all done.  But I am really struggling with energy and interest and action and organization and…..well, I could go on and on with that.  Not the right  mind frame for camp.

Camp is insanity with medical supplies.  We are in the boonies of Excelsior Springs, MO and we rent a place called Camp Donophan for 5 days for around 60 kids who are on dialysis or had a kidney transplant though donations from National Kidney Foundation and Ronald McDonald house…and anyone nice enough to give us money.  “Camp Chimer” (Chimer is the short name for Children’s Mercy, who sponsors the medical team and supplies)  is the kids’ chance to kick back and be with kids who are like them.  Kids who have total kidney failure are extremely rare.  Most people don’t know a child with kidney failure.  So all year they are alone with a very difficult disease that requires medical treatments and medications and a diet they hate all day long, every day.  So they are WIRED when day one of camp starts.

I am responsible for peritoneal dialysis (PD).  I organize, plan, study, and order all the stuff needed.  I pre-pack everything individually for each kid.  There are always surprises.  This year’s surprise is that the kids are tent camping on the first night.  This means no dialysis, as they are connected to a machine every night, and I can’t set them up in a tent.  This means I have to figure out how to find time to do gravity-driven dialysis exchanges to 8 kids the day before and after.  A huge headache to find out at the last-minute.

Our PD cycler

If you are assigned to PD, then you work heavily in spurts throughout the day.  And at the day’s end, you are up all night answering alarms, fixing cycler issues, cleaning up vomit, taking care of hives, headaches, dehydration, homesickness, sunburns etc.  No sleep.  And you do a lot of needless running around trying to grab the kid you need to do that dressing change on etc.  Exhausting.  After 20 years, I am getting too old for the whole week.  So I get it all ready, go set it up and spend the first couple of days making sure everything is going well, and the last day there to do the grunt work of packing up.

Someday I would love to go and be a counselor and just ENJOY camp.  We keep the kids BUSY.  And they get to go to baseball games (in an executive suite), Power play (a huge indoor park) a dinner and dance at the ELMS, a first-rate hotel famous for wealthy mob hangout in the 40’s.  The dance is AWESOME!  I think I am nuttier then the kids…..

Camp has great moments of hilarity.  Here is a recent one:  I was watching a young girl who couldn’t swim.  She was morbidly obese and is a little simple, so I told her we  were going to stay by the steps and 4 of us got her on a tube to float.  We were talking to her and I said,

Me: J, you are leaning too far to the side.

J: Well I can’t get back on good.

Me: Just lift up your butt a little and sink in a bit

J lifts up her butt, and in slow motion, with hang time,  rolls off the tube.  Now remember that we are 2 feet from the step and she can reach the bottom.

Cherie and I watched her backside bob gently in the water.  I looked at Cherie.

Me: Hmmm, do you think she is going to come up for air?  Maybe she is snorkeling?

J is still bobbing backside up.

Cherie: I don’t see any movement.  Do you think we should intervene?

Me: {staring thoughtfully}  Yup, no movement.  {Hysterical laughter}

Cherie:  What?

Me: {trying to stop}  Do–do–doesn’t she know she is 2 feet from the steps?

{Cherie grinned}  Obviously not. Let’s get her.

We painfully rolled her over and grabbed her arms.


J: {rubbing face}  I was drowning, I could have died!  You were supposed to watch me!

Me: {drily}  Oh, we were watching you…. {Cherie snorts}  Girl, you are two feet from the steps, why didn’t you put your feet down and stand up?

J:  I was stuck

Me:  STUCK! Ok, out of the pool.  If you think you are stuck 2 feet from the steps you are dangerous to yourself and others.

J:  Oh, good.  I’m ready.  I’m going to tell everyone how I almost drowned.

Me: {to Cherie}  Should we stick her back in?

Cherie: {hysterical laughter}

Part of the craziness of camp is that the transplant kids need loads of fluid and the dialysis kids need to be restricted.  The transplant kids never get enough because it is so hot and the dialysis kids suck down glass after glass.  I am the fluid remover.  Yes, it is a mean job but high blood pressure, cramps and vomiting is not something I love at 2 am.

So I go out Friday to set up.   I have posts….bobbling along  (hopefully right side up) during that time. I will get to comments when I can–no cell reception at camp or internet!  Lucky me!

I am sure I will have some stories after camp…..AFTER I recover!






One comment on “Countdown to Camp

  1. Oh my!! Good luck 🙂

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