Cub Scouts Go Camping!

Last weekend we got out our camping gear to check it all out and make sure we were ready for the Fall Cub Scout camping trip. Stuart showed Nicholas our mess kit. Nicholas thought is was cool how all the cooking gear stacked so neatly inside itself.

Nicholas was a great helper with putting up the tent. He jumped right in and did his best.

Once the tent was up, Nicholas, Daddy, and Rachel climbed inside and zipped it up. Almost immediately, Rachel was whining to get out.

We talked about it some and decided that maybe Rachel wasn't up for sleeping in a tent this year. So Mommy and Rachel would spend the day at the campsite but go home for Rachel's nap and bedtime.

Nicholas and Stuart were content to keep playing in the tent in the backyard for quite a while.

The Cub Scout campout started Friday night. We couldn't get out to the site until Stuart got home from work plus we had to pick up a few last minute items. We had hoped to cook dinner at the campsite but the first priority was getting the tent up and by the time that was done the sun was down. We were glad we had grabbed some Wendy's for dinner!

Rachel and I stayed at the campsite until the boys were about to get ready for bed. We headed home and went to bed ourselves.

The next morning, Stuart called me to let me know that all went well in the tent that night. They were up and about to have breakfast with the Scouts but he wanted to let me know that Nicholas had been playing at an empty campsite nearby and had picked up a hypodermic needle that he found in some leaves. Nicholas showed it to Stuart who promptly explained the danger of needles (who knew we should have explained this to our 6 year old before going camping?). He told Nicholas that he could accidentally poke himself with the needle and that would be really bad. Nicholas then showed Stuart his finger which appeared to have a tiny dark spot on the tip of it.

Stuart didn't freak out because Nicholas said that he never felt the needle poke him. However, he did struggle as he took the cap off of the needle (again, who knew we had to explain the danger of taking the safety cap off a needle before going camping?) so a puncture was possible. Perhaps it was a light poke and he didn't discriminate that poke from the struggle with the cap. Nicholas couldn't recall how he got the dark spot on his finger. Stuart said that when he wiped the dark spot, it wasn't bleeding and it may have been dried blood but it seemed to be more of a blood blister under the skin. But being The Mom, it was my job to worry. If there was even a chance that he could have gotten poked with a contaminated needle, shouldn't we do something???

I spent many of my pre-motherhood years as a social worker in various dialysis clinics and I'm rather familiar with hearing about nurses accidentally getting punctured by needles. Although I never paid attention to the specifics, I knew that there was some kind of treatment that a nurse got one time in order to keep her from getting AIDS from a needle. I immediately called our pediatrician. He explained that we mostly should be concerned about Nicholas contracting HIV or Hepatitis C from the needle. He said that the risks of him actually contracting one of these from a needle that has been left outside in the elements for who knows how long is very, very slim.

Doc said that Nicholas can not be tested for HIV or Hep C for about 3-6 months because that's how long it will take for it to show up in his system so we won't really know for sure for a while. He said that in a clinic or facility setting, if a nurse was stuck with a needle, then they would do blood work on the patient to see if they showed positive for either of these diseases. If they had HIV, or were at high risk, then the nurse could start a round of treatment that prevents HIV from developing into AIDS. It's a toxic treatment and lasts about a month. Doc said that if we were really concerned about this then we could take Nicholas to the ER where they will start him on this preventative treatment. My gut said that I needed to do whatever I had to do to protect my little guy from a potentially life-threatening disease. But Doc reminded me that his risks is very low and the treatment is extremely toxic, especially in little people. The needle could be a harmless insulin needle. It could be old and exposure to the elements would have likely killed any disease on it. But again, if we were concerned then we could take him to the ER. I couldn't think straight so I simply asked him what he would do if this happened to one of his children. He said that he would NOT start them on the treatment.

I tried to breathe a sigh of relief from his quick and confident answer. But again, being The Mom, I stayed in a low-level anxiety mode for quite a while longer.

Rachel and I got to hang out with the Scouts and had a good time. Rachel loved
picking up rocks, often more than she could hold in her little hands.

That's when she would walk over to me and dump the handful of rocks into my hand to hold for her while she went back to collect more....and then I promptly dumped my handful of rocks, hoping that she'd just forget about them. And she usually did.

We enjoyed a delicious campground breakfast with pigs in a blanket, hash brown casserole, cereal, and fruit. Those Scouts know how to do campground breakfast right. If I had to plan a campground breakfast, I probably would have brought along a box of Poptarts (chocolate, of course) and said, "Breakfast is ready!"

Rachel was obsessed with the screened bathroom door. Fortunately, it was the women's bathroom door. She opened it and closed it, opened it and closed it, etc, etc. She went in the door, looked around the bathroom and shower stall, danced in the bathroom, went back out the door. Then repeated the whole thing all over again. I'm not sure what the fascination with it was but it could have provided hours of entertainment for her. Maybe I need a screen door for the house instead of the pile of toys that she has to play with.

The campsite was really pretty. We were on a penisula with many of the campsites right on the water. The weather was cloudy with the chance of heavy rains to come but the temperature was perfect and we were dry for the moment.

Time for games! The Scouts had a competition where they had to get into teams of two and work together as they walked with these boards on their feet. It was funny just watching them try to practice on their own. It was even funnier when two of them were on a set of boards together!

There was also an egg toss competition as well as lots and lots of running around and being silly.

The Scouts did a craft activity where they made hovercrafts out of old CDs and balloons. It was really quite a neat project.

There was lots of time spent playing on the camp playground.

Many of the Scouts know Rachel from when she was a baby and they like to talk to her and help "take care" of her. It's sweet and she loves the attention.

Next thing we knew it was time for lunch! Frito Chili Pie! You can't go wrong with that :)

Of course, the boys can't just smile nicely for a picture. Pull out a camera and they can't help but make silly faces.

We knew that bad weather was on the way so we weren't surprised to feel some drops of rain starting to come down. Then we heard that it was about 30-40 minutes away and the winds were pretty strong. Time to suit up!

Unfortunately, not too much later, a police officer stopped by to inform all the campers that the weather was going to get really bad with potential for hail and possibly tornados. The Scout leaders pulled everyone together to inform us that we were all welcome to stay because the site was paid for through Saturday night but that the Scouts were officially calling off the event due to safety reasons.

We packed up our tent and gear then pitched in to help to Pack gather up their tents, tables, and all the gear they had for the whole event. We had only a short drive to get home but about half way there we were hit with terribly strong winds, hail, and very heavy rains. I almost pulled over to the side of the road because the weather was so bad and the rain was so hard that I couldn't see the road very well. But I was also afraid of a tornado so I wanted to just get home and out of the vehicle.

We all made it home safely and eventually got all of our gear back into the house. We rested and relaxed but I was still having a hard time shaking the feeling that we should do something more for Nicholas. Stuart and I prayed for Nicholas' health and for guidance for us. We prayed a lot.

That was Saturday evening. By Sunday, I was starting to go into Freak Out mode with worry over Nicholas. What if he was really stuck by the needle? What if that was a "dirty" needle and his life will forever be changed by this? How can we not do something? By Monday, Stuart and I both were in a flurry of activity and phone calls. We had learned about the treatment protocol, how hard it can be on the body and especially detrimental for a young growing body, but we also learned that there was only a 72 hour window from the time of the needle stick for the treatment to do any good. Now we were under a time crunch. It was Monday and that window would close the next morning.

We got on the phone with the campground, the city's Park Department director, the police department, the emergency room, the Texas Department of Health, multiple nurses and doctors, a pharmacist, and we prayed some more. There were issues about how devasting the medication would be for Nicholas if we decided to go forward with it, just in case. But we were also working to try to find out who had stayed at the campsite where the needle had been found. We hoped that they would be informed of what had happened to our little 6 year old son and they would easily offer up the information that someone in the family had diabetes and that it was just an insulin needle and not a sickly drug user carrying who knows what kind of disease and that we didn't need to go forward with the toxic treatment.

There was lots of drama, more discoveries made, and lots of anxiety during this time but I'll spare you all of those details.

Although the old couple that stayed there previously was located and questioned and they freely disclosed their full list of medical problems, they said that they did not use needles for any of their medication and denied that the needles were theirs. So we were back to square one with no idea of who that needle had belonged to or how long it had been out there. We had to give that up and went back to the original facts that Nicholas doesn't know for sure how that spot got on his finger. Was it puncture wound with dried blood or was it just a blood blister under the skin from his struggle to take the cap off the needle? We have a dear friend who is a pharmacist and he came over to look at the wound. Since he has prepared many needles in his work as a hospital pharmacist, he has accidentally stuck himself with clean unused needles many times so he is very familiar with what a puncture wound from that kind of needle would actually look like. He examined the skin and although it was two days later, he didn't see anything to make him think that the skin had been punctured. This together with the uncertain origin of the injury and Nicholas not having felt a puncture and our pediatrician's recommendation, we decided to just keep praying about it and not seek the AZT treatment. We feel that we made the right decision but he will get blood work done at his next well exam, just for my peace of mind.

All of the drama aside, it was a fun campout and we are all sad that it had to end so soon due to bad weather. But we are looking forward to the Spring campout. We hope to get a bigger tent by then. Maybe Rachel won't feel so scared in a bigger tent and we'll actually get to camp out overnight with the boys.

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