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Living with Diabetes

Why did Scott get sick at diabetes camp every year?

3/21/2019 by Scott Johnson

Why did Scott get sick at diabetes camp every year?

We're calling a quick audible this week because our scheduled in-studio guest isn't feeling well this morning. But never fear! Life with diabetes means there's no shortage of stories, right?

Do any of you remember the days of using exchange systems and meal plans for diabetes management? That threw me for a loop every year!


  • A little bit about the old-school "exchange" system used for diabetes meal management
  • My mom was ahead of her time in matching my insulin to food, not the other way around
  • The shock to my system when going to camp meant I had to go back to exchanges



Scott Johnson: Have you ever felt bummed out by your blood sugars? I mean, you're trying SO hard, but it's just not going how you thought. Listen, you're not alone in that feeling. It happens to me too. The most important thing you can do is keep trying and keep learning. And by tuning in today, you're taking another small step in the right direction. What's up monster tamers? Welcome to another episode of “Live, with Scott!” Thanks so much for tuning in. My name is Scott Johnson. I've been living with diabetes since I was five years old, and the diabetes social media space, that's you, by the way, has been an important part of my wellbeing for a long, long time. Thanks so much for helping me along.

Scott Johnson: So listen, we have to call an audible on our guest today. Quinn Nystrom was scheduled to be here. She had a huge day of advocacy around insulin access and affordability in Minnesota yesterday, and she's in town but wasn't feeling so hot this morning when she got up to head into the mySugr offices. So she's going to kind of rest up today, and we will connect with her tomorrow for a bonus episode of Live with Scott and catch up with her on everything. So Quinn, lay low rest up and feel better. Today, we'll hang out for a few minutes, enjoy some Diet Coke together and talk about something else. I've got a... I actually would love to share with you my diabetes camping experiences from when I was a small boy. But first, let's get to last week's winner. Congratulations to Mike Dureski, who just won some fun, mySugr swag. Mike, we'll send you a message on Facebook just after the show to coordinate details. Everyone else, stick with us to learn how you can win some fun, free mySugr swag too. And while we get going, please share a quick hello in the comments and let me know where you're watching from. I would love to say hello. Now, today's episode is sponsored by the mySugr bundle. Get unlimited strips, automatic supply refills, personalized support, and more all for just $49 per month. Learn more at

Scott Johnson: And getting to the camping experiences... I don't know, have any of you ever attended a diabetes camp? It's a super fun experience. Last week, Kerri and I talked about Children with Diabetes, so that's a big conference that takes place down in Orlando, Florida. It's in a hotel setting. The diabetes camps... There's a ton of different ones. The one that I attended, it's called Camp Needlepoint, right? Camp Needlepoint. And it's kind of near the Twin Cities, Minnesota area, so near Minneapolis, Saint Paul. And throughout the year, it's actually a YMCA camp. Let me see if I can bring up a little webpage that talks a little bit more about it, but for little pockets of time during the year, they actually... Here we go. So little pockets of time, they make it into an overnight camp. There are day camp options as well, right? But overnight camp for people with diabetes. So, you can see here some age ranges. So, eight to nine-year-olds, eight to 10, all the way up to teenagers and counselors. So, let me switch the camera back here. It was really a great experience for me, but I didn't have the typical camping experience, so I think my mom was a little bit ahead of her time. My mom was a career nurse. She was an amazing woman. She did everything from emergency room nursing to IV nursing to you name it. She spent some time on this nursing squad called the flying squad, which meant she... Basically, when she showed up for work, she was assigned to wherever they needed help in the hospital. And in my eyes, that meant she was a total badass. She could do whatever, like anything that they needed help with in the hospital. So like, she knew what she was doing, and when I was diagnosed with diabetes, and after my parents got their footing under them, they... This was back in the days of the exchange system. So this is going to sound really weird to many of you. But we would have a prescribed regimen of alright, you were supposed to eat three starch exchanges, two protein exchanges, a fat exchange, and a fruit to exchange. And each of those exchanges would consist... And a milk exchange or a dairy exchange, right?

A milk exchange would have 13 grams of carbohydrates through milk or whatever. Like each of these exchanges then had a certain number of whatever to make up the exchanges. But I was a weird eater growing up. I have never liked meat. I still, to this day, don't eat much meat, and so I will always have to get my protein from other things. And you know, my mom and dad, they adjusted to my eating habits and preferences, and we adjusted my insulin to what I was eating kind of before that was the way you do things, right? So, all of a sudden we go to Camp Needlepoint where you've got this more rigid exchange system. This was back in the mid to late 80s, and I'm faced with this meal plan at every meal where, all right, Scott, you've got x number of exchanges. And I remember getting my dished out plate of food, and here's all this meat that I didn't like. And so what I would have to do then is I would take this plate of food and have to go up to the nutrition counter and exchange my protein for a different protein.

Scott Johnson: Now this is gonna sound bonkers, but what they would do back then is, I would turn in my meat, and I would get back a Dixie cup full of creamy peanut butter, right? And I would have to like sit down and choke down spoonful after spoonful of creamy peanut butter. And year after year, for like two or three years, never failed, I would go... I dunno, it was maybe two or three meals of doing this. I would end up down in the infirmary, just puking my righteous guts out. Like just sick as a dog. And I mean, I loved camp, but I knew... Like every year I knew it would happen, and everyone was great. The nurses in the infirmary were great, but I always also remember that I'd be sick as a dog down in the down in the nurse's office. The poor thing, like she would... I'd tell her like, "All right, it's getting ready to happen again." And she would hand me this cute little like kidney bean shaped thing to throw up in, and I was looking at her like, "No lady, like you better get the ice cream bucket. Like, this is not... We're going to have a bigger mess to deal with if you have this little cute little container here, so let's get real about things."

Scott Johnson: Anyway, camp is great. I made many, many great friends. I learned a ton of things, had amazing counselors, and in many ways, it's a lot like what the social media community does for me today where I see different ways to do things, different perspectives. I see that the kids and other peers my age were struggling with things just like I was and that I wasn't alone. So, as funny as the whole exchange system and swapping my meat in for peanut butter, it adds kind of a funny side of the story to me when I think about camping, the diabetes camp. It's like, all right, my first association I have is puking my guts out down in the nurse's office. But once that was done, kind of like my body getting accustomed to shifting gears away from my diet at home versus diet at camp, then it was all good. But it's funny what associations we have from growing up. I would love to hear if you guys have ever gone to any kind of diabetes camps or if you've gone to any sort of events or camps for adults or if you are adults with children with diabetes, do you send your children to any camps? You know, there's an association that I'm a big fan of Connected in Motion. They have a lot of events around the country and up in Canada called Slip Streams. And we'll track down their event schedule and pull some of their events so that you can take a look at what they've got going on. See if you can connect up with any of those. Diabetes Education & Camping Association is another treasure of resources. But I'm a big, big advocate for connecting with those around you if you can. And it also brings to mind something that Stacy Simms talked about. So, she was a guest that we had on some time ago, and she was putting together a resource, Club 1921, where she's going to be able to pull together events that are around you that you'll be able to look up and track down things that you can attend.

Scott Johnson: So, for me, there's no substitute for in-person events. Being able to connect with other people online and in the peer support community and social media space, it's like a bridge that gets me through those times between when I can connect with people in person. So, I really enjoy those connections. They get me through.

So anyways, enough about that stuff. I would love to hear more about what you guys are up to. I would love to hear more about what we can do to help you guys out, what kind of guests you would like to have on the show. Maybe one of you guys would like to come on the show. I would love to have that happen as well. So reach out, let me know what we can do to help you guys out. And again, we're going to have Quinn on. She's going to come back on tomorrow. So, we're going to have a special kind of impromptu live show on tomorrow. It looks like we're probably going to try and go on at around, I don't know, somewhere around 11 maybe, a little bit after 11 o'clock Pacific Time tomorrow, depending on where we can align schedules and resources and all that kind of fun stuff. So stay tuned, we'll update the announcements and everything as soon as we can and get all that stuff going. But there's lots of stuff happening in Quinn's world. And she's also doing the live event tomorrow night here in the San Diego area. So, at the San Diego Botanical Garden, talking about diabetes and eating disorders, thanks to the work that she's doing with Center For Change. So stay tuned for that as well. And we'll get you guys up to speed on all that stuff. So, once again, the show is sponsored by mySugr Bundle. Get unlimited strips, automatic delivery, personalized support, and more, all for just $49 per month. And as usual, I would love to give away a mySugr tote bag full of some goodies, stickers, pop sockets, stuff like that. So, leave a comment and let me know if you enjoyed the show, and Quinn, again, I hope you're feeling better, and we'll connect with you soon. And that's all we've got for today. Thanks, everyone. Bye Bye.

Scott Johnson

Almost famous for being a Diet Coke fanatic, Scott is the Patient Success Manager, North America for mySugr and has lived well with diabetes for over forty years. He's an active pioneer in the diabetes social media space and along with his work at mySugr, he manages his award-winning blog, when time allows.

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