First Day Of Summer Camp: A Dose Of Reality

It’s a drizzly, gray Monday morning and I just shoved a bottle of pills and a syringe into a 20-something black kid’s hand.

“Are you a doctor?” I ask. It’s my weak attempt to flatter.

I have 10 minutes to win over the young EMT-turned-camp-medical-director before he pushes back and says: “Sorry, we can’t be responsible for your child’s medical condition,” a response I heard before.

“Savannah needs to take a ½ tab every day at 3:00,” I say matter-of-factly, pointing to the bottle.

He squints to read the label.

Law suits.

“Oh, don’t worry. She has no problem swallowing pills,” I say, trying to make my 8-year-old camper sound responsible and mature. He doesn’t have to know she still believes in the Easter Bunny.

The conversation occurs in the corner of a playground, under flying balls and surrounded by screaming campers in oversized white T’s. The dance I do to ensure that Savannah has a “normal” but “safe” childhood, despite her rare medical condition, triggers every feeling from fear to anger. In another life, I’d ship her off to grandma’s in Florida or a posh camp in the Berkshires. But right now I’m single mom scrapping by in an urban jungle.

“Can you administer an injection?” I ask, knowing that most EMTs can’t give medicine handed to them from another source: mom.

Law suits.

His baby face tells me he is in the scraped knees phase of his career and like most has neither seen nor heard of Savannah’s condition. I’m trying to be charming, while informative, as I quickly rattle off the signs of an adrenal crises, so if, God forbid, she gets sick, he doesn’t hem and haw and has the courage to act.

“If she gets sick — and that’s not going to happen — but, IF, just give her the injection and call me,” I say, talking incredibly fast.  “Don’t worry.  She can’t O.D. on solu-Cortef.”

This is insane.

He fingers the crumpled baggie holding the syringe and solu-Cortef. He’s a nice kid and seems eager to please both parents and his boss.

“I’ll read up on the condition,” he says.

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