Camp is always a minute-by-minute affair and you just have to roll with the punches. It was cold and rainy the entire week. Most of the outdoor activities had to be scrapped, and the kids didn’t get to swim once. For some with catheters, that is their only chance all year. Usually camp is stinkin’ hot, so this was a shock.
But I have never had a camp like this before. We have always checked the kids in at the girls’ dorm so I can take their machines right to their room and check it out with the family. But our funding has moved from the National Kidney Foundation to the Ronald McDonald House Foundation, and they are running the show now. Camp is free for all of kids age 9-17, and we usually have around 50 who come from all over the midwest. The whole cost for 5 days is around 100 G, and we have to get it funded by donations or foundations. I don’t know how the deal was struck, but they were going all out. The entire camp is being professionally filmed for either a commercial or donation fund raiser.
The new director decided to move check in to the other side of the campground, so no chance for me to look over the machines. As I was removing cyclers from their bags, I came to one that was black with filth. I was horrified. I have never seen such a filthy machine in my life. So I took it out and began scrubbing the the grime off of it. Infection is a huge problem with peritoneal dialysis, and everything needs to be as clean as possible. We have special procedures for everything, and a filthy cycler is a host to all kinds of dangerous germs that can cause massive infection. I decided to check the inside compartment where our tubing cassette fits.
And received the shock of my life.
A momma bug and her little baby bugs were running all around. This area has little holes that go into the internal part of the cycler. The babies scattered into the holes when they saw light. The momma couldn’t and an adolescent was stuck under part of the hinge.
I screamed like a little girl.
Of course I was the only one in the dorm. But I knew I had to grab momma bug. And, yeling the whole time, I managed to get it with my disinfectant cloth, and shove it into a glove. I knew that no one would believe this, so evidence was pretty important! So, holding the glove gingerly closed, I found other nurses and our social workers in a group watching some of the activities. I casually walked up and said, “Ten dollars to the first person who guesses what is in my glove.”
Blank stares. Angie said, “No idea! But you don’t look happy!”
“No, what I am is horrified. It is some kind of bug and it crawled out of the inside of a cycler. And she has a nest of them. “
“Wow, you are so calm about it! Let’s open it and see what it is.”
“Believe me, I was screaming the entire time. I cant believe I caught one!”
We took it to a table, and, with breaths held, slowly opened the treasure. There it was with it’s legs still moving. A moment of complete silence.
Angie said, “Wow, yuck. This is a problem. Let’s go see the cycler and get all of his stuff out of the room. It may all be infested.”
I didn’t think of that, other then the case. We trooped back and found adolescent bug still trapped. But no sign of the babies. I was fearful that some may have escaped. We took down the case and found dead bugs in it. A bug expert said they were roaches.
No, I did NOT take pictures! The social workers did, as this will have to be addressed with the family. Those bugs have been there for a while. I felt so sorry for our little camper. He was so sweet. We tried to keep the source anonymous to protect him from getting isolated by the other kids.
By this time I was so creeped out that I felt bugs running all over me! We decided not to spray due to asthma issues, so we put traps all around the cycler and I switched out cyclers until we could get a new one from the company.
The next day I was walking in another room and scuttling across the floor was a roach. I stopped, horrified. This child had been on he same bus as the one with the roaches. Were all the kids stuff infested? Add to that, her dialysis fluid leaked all over the floor, and dialysis fliuid as everything roaches need to thrive.
Dialysis units have a notorious problem with roaches. Our fluid is mother’s milk to them. In our old unit, we had a few crawl out of the drain. They were enormous. Our unit moved to another location, partly because the drain system needed to be overhauled to prevent this problem.
Now I have no problem in general with bugs or spiders. They have every right to be here and serve an important role in the food chain. I carefully trap spiders and release them outside, But roaches gross me out. Today, I found two on my side table.
That’s it, I am done. I was due anyway to leave for a break, and I high tailed it out of there. I am currently disinfecting all my belongings. I’m going back to pack everything up on the last day. Lucky me. I wonder how many dead ones I will find?