Re: Diabetic Scout
Monte Kalisch (montek@MONTEKCS.COM)
Sun, 10 Nov 1996 10:12:56 -0700
Hi Mark. Just some feedback.
> 1. Obviously his Patrol, and to a certain extent the whole Troop,
> have to change cooking styles (which isn't the worst thing since a
> diet is a lot healthier than what we usually eat). Are there any good
> diabetic camp recipes out there? How about advice on converting some
> favorites? (Although I don't think their favorite chocolate-cherry cake
> will survive). This came at a good time for us; because of the holidays
> don't have a campout until January.
There may be no need to alter any of the cooking styles. There's some
things about diabetes that you should probably know. Diabetes is an
insulin deficiency, either completely or partially. When your body
consumes sugar (everything gets broken down into sugars), that sugar has to
get inside your cells. It's kind of like you have to get inside your
house. To do so, you need a key. The key for sugar to get inside your
cells is insulin (insulin is created in the pancreas). Without proper
insulin, sugar cannot enter cells in your body.
There are two types of diabetes: Type I and Type II. Type I, or
insulin-dependent, diabetes occurs in individuals with little or no ability
to produce insulin. This type of diabetes affects children more frequently
than adults. Type II, or noninsulin-dependent, diabetes occurs in
individuals who have the ability to produce insulin but are unable to
enough of it or use it efficiently. Type II diabetes usually affects
adults and is generally controlled through their diet. Type I diabetes is
controlled by the use of insulin injections. Your Scout's doctor will
explain all of this, including teaching the Scout and his family how to
administer the medication.
Don't forget the basics:
"The right amount of sugar" + "The right amount of insulin" = Good. Any
other combination is bad.
What will be difficult for the Scout is having to keep track of all of this
stuff. And he will probably forget. (It's the nature of kids and even
some adults!) As time goes on, he will become increasingly more aware of
the way his body handles sugar and it will become easier. Before you do an
activity, like camping, hiking, etc., you will want to make sure that the
Scout is completely prepared. This may seem like a hassle at first, but
for his sake you don't want to be underprepared. Make sure he's brought
his medication, including extra in case something goes awry.
Some emergency-like things to watch for. Hyperglycemia (Hyper = Too Much;
Glycemia = Sugar): This occurs when there's too much sugar and not enough
insulin. (The problem is the sugar can't get into the cells without the
"key.") Medically, when this happens, the body will start to process
stored fats as sugars, but that doesn't work very well and a waste product
of ketones are produced. Ketones are the same thing that are in finger
nail polish. Ketones can make the breath smell acidic (like alcohol on the
Hypoglycemia (Hypo = Low): This occurs when there's not enough sugar inside
the cells. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including the
diabetic has taken too much insulin, the diabetic has not eaten enough to
provide normal sugar intake, the diabetic has overexercised or
overexcerted himself (thus reducing his blood glucose levels), or the
diabetic has vomited a meal. This condition is sometimes classified by
erratic behavior, including abnormally hostile or aggressive behavior which
may appear to be alcoholic intoxication!
Story Time: (I'm going to interject a story to offset all this medical
stuff) I work at a camp in the summer. This past summer, we had a diabetic
Scout who had taken too much insulin (his father was at camp also). The
Scout was in one part of the camp when I found out. A couple of other
staffers, his father, and I ended up chasing him about a mile and half
before he slowed down. He was hypoglycemic and needed sugar, but he
wouldn't stop so we could get it in him. We finally got him, let him drink
a pop, and within SECONDS he was fine and couldn't figure out why we had
been chasing him. 8-)
Basically, in the field, there is no easy way to detect the difference
between hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. If the Scout is conscious and if
his doctor recommends this, just give him a pop (we say pop in the west!).
If he's low on sugar, then he'll be okay within moments. Just be cautious.
Be aware of the erratic behavior. Did you note that in the hyperglycemia
section I mentioned that it could smell like he has alcohol on his breath
and in the hypoglycemia section his actions could mimic what a drunk would
do. Many diabetics have been pulled over by police officers and taken to
jail for "Driving under the Influence" when they're really just low on
sugar! That's one of the reasons, diabetics will wear wrist bands and
Anyway, that's enough on the medical side for now. If you need more advice
or help, please let me know.
> 3. Are there any other diabetic Scouts out there who could offer him
> few words of encouragement. This is quite an upheaval in his life and I
> know he is apprehensive. Hearing from other kids might help. His name
> Josh; if you email me I will pass it on.
Tell Josh that I said hi. And if he would like to talk to someone who
knows about the medical side of diabetes, I would be glad to talk to him.
Also, I've dealt with many diabetic patients (my grandmother has Type II
diabetes). It's important that Josh knows that diabetes is just going to
force him to become aware of everything he drinks and eats (yes, including
that Halloween candy!!). 8-) Many people have controlled diabetes for
their entire lives.
And Mark, just be there for him. Make sure the other Scouts are told only
what is okay with Josh. They don't need to know everything unless Josh
wants to tell them. Don't share this story with the rest of Troop unless
they need to know. If the Scouts, parents, or committee, etc. are going to
know, make sure they know enough about diabetes so there's no
misconceptions. The Scouts should just be told that Josh has to be careful
of what he eats and drinks. He has to be smarter about what he does. Josh
will need support from everyone.
And if you ever get into a situation where something isn't quite right and
you're not sure what to do, call EMS immediately.
Please let me know if I can help more.
Yours in Scouting,
Emergency Medical Technician
Ben Delatour Scout Ranch (http://www.montekcs.com/www/bedsore)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City