Let’s bring back the vibe of Type One Geologist and Veggies, Volcanoes and Vials of insulin as I embark on a month long adventure as a vegan geo-nerd thriving with type one diabetes!!
This May Term (a one course semester during the month of May focusing on field experience), I completed the last, most significant barrier between being a geology student and a geologist with a degree- Field Camp!
During this field camp, we spent 4 weeks out in the field- making observations, taking measurements, plotting study areas on maps, creating geologic maps with legends and descriptions, and turning our observations and interpretations into a beautiful history written to us in the rocks.
Prior to embarking on our camping adventures, I taught both of my professors how to use a glucagon (I kept one in my personal day pack and gave a 2nd one to be kept in the medical kit in the shuttle bus), as well as what all of my medical gear is, what is relevant to them and where everything is kept. I keep two water proof bags which I have mentioned before in prior gear lists to store all of my medical gear. A smaller one for my day pack and a larger one to be kept for resupply in my tent. As well, I bring a portable charger and a solar panel to charge my dexcom G6 receiver and extra batteries for my omnipod meter.
Week 1- Chequamegon Bay Area
Our first day was spent in the classroom, acclimating to topographic maps and a stratigraphic column abundant with un-conformities and non-conformities. In non geologic terms, the boiled down layers of rock that go by oldest on bottom up to youngest on top, aka our earth’s crust that we walk upon, had a lot of missing sections. Where did it all go??? Well that wasn’t our goal. Our goal was to see what we see and see how each rock layer (each layer is definitive of a change in rock type- structure, composition, texture) contacts the underlying rock layer. Was it at an angle? Are the layers/ beds horizontal? Is one sedimentary and another igneous? Stay tuned to find out.
On to the rest of the week. Day trips were taken south of school to Copper Falls State Park and surrounding outcrops as well as northwest of town into the Bayfield Peninsula. Copper Falls showcased some lovely MCR (mid-continent rift) volcanics (igneous) that have been heavily uplifted- near vertical; whereas the peninsula showcased glacial till stair cased to resemble ancient lake levels post Glacial Lake Duluth.
This week lead to some of the best, consistently in-range blood sugar levels I’ve had in awhile. I remember thinking, “wow, I’m obviously meant to be a geologist. I am meant to be doing this work. This is what makes me happy and healthy and feeling good.” Great week, a slow start to what I was expecting from an intensive 400 level course, but an all around good experience!
Week 2- Baraboo Hills Quartzite
Our first week camping!
A long first day was had unveiling the camping gear from the basement storage unit of the science building prior to a 6 hour drive with tour spots along the way. Well worth it though. At camp, I ended up with 1 of 2 solo tents (tents were provided by the school for either 1 or 2 people per tent). I decided against bringing my personal tent to force myself to be more social, but alas, it did not carry through. I preferably enjoy having a personal tent just to feel more at home and be able to have alone time after socializing all day. It helps me recharge and refocus and eases my social anxiety.
This week was really rough on my blood sugars which led to some not so dandy headaches, migraines, and moodiness.
We were told the cook stoves would be fired up just after 6:30a when our professors would arise. Thus, I planned to arise at 6a, do some yoga/stretching, eat breakfast and be ready to start the day at 8 maybe 8:30a. This latter step never happened. Our days began at 6:30a for a few of us, who would pace about camp and cook for the rest of the crew who slowly came out of their tents between 9 and 10. Eating a high carb, high protein breakfast every morning with little movement made my sugars run in the upper 200s most of the day. Lunch time gave me the chance to over-correct but no matter how much insulin was given, I just stayed in the 200s. Unfortunately this lead to great aggravation for folks being disrespectful waking up so late so that our dinner would then be served at 9p and that I felt that much of our beautiful mornings were wasted. I blamed everyone else for my crappy blood sugars when in reality I should have gone for a walk around the campground or raised my basal (long-term) insulin in the mornings.
The 200s are a very stubborn blood sugar range for me that amount of insulin will ever correct for- only exercise, of which I was deprived. On top of this, the headaches and overall ickiness I felt lead me to not crave lunch or food during the day. By not eating as much, less insulin was flowing through me, also not giving my blood sugars any 2nd chances of decreasing.
Although the sites were beautiful and our mapping project was pretty cool, I really focused my efforts on aggression towards my type one diabetes. Sometimes this autoimmune disease can take over us mentally and emotionally and can be so overpowering to distract us from the good things happening around me.
This week refocused my spirits. I recognized that blame towards others is unneccessary when the problem lies either within or is out of anyone’s control (sometimes t1d is just a bitch and does not want to be managed). I also learned that as one of the few only seniors in the course, I needed to recognize that younger students and peers had never camped in a group before or had never seen many of these rocks outside of the classroom. I needed to be that senior mentor I always looked up to when I was an underclassman. (Shout out to Sophia, aka pops, for guiding me, making me feel included, and giving me space to have confidence to speak up, ask questions and shout out answers!)
Week 3- Upper Peninsula (the UP), MI
LETS SEE ALL THOSE VOLCANICS!!!! I was most excited for this week as I have never explored much of the UP and never been to the Keweenaw Peninsula AND it would all be volcanic rocks we would be touring! WOWZA, this week was truly incredible. I felt so confident in my abilities and knowledge. I learned that most times I had an interpretation and decided not to write it down thinking I had to be wrong, I was typically correct and should’ve believed in my intelligence- I am learning to trust myself and to not be afraid to be wrong sometimes. I have to put in the effort into my own learning- it is not anyone else’s job, only mine.
We camped in 2 locations this week- Marquette, MI and Copper Harbor, MI. The first two days were sunny and warm and lovely and I slept in my green hammock on my green sleeping pad in my green sleeping bag- a cute little green bean I was! However it started raining night 2 and I am thankful I had set up my tent as back up and hopped right on in there the moment I awoke to rain drops on my face, oops!
Our first mapping project of the week was at Presque Isle Point and boy was it gorgeous. Unreal. Truly stunning and elegantly beautiful. I was awestruck.
Onto Copper Harbor, which is the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula: we lost cell service and had minimal water access. However, the stillness of the small lake on which our campsite resided calmed my buzzing nerves and reminded me that my whole world is inside of me. I am enough. And as my buzzing nerves diminished, the buzzing and roaring of the great winds held me in place! So so windy! Thankful to have had such a great windbreaker to keep me comfortable.
Our 2nd mapping project started on some short, but gorgeous trails and winded towards a beach- Agate Beach- with amygdaloidal basalt weathered by winds and crashing waves. I was in heaven looking down and finding the most stunning basalt cobbles I’ve ever seen. Agate Beach is a candy store for us geo-nerds!
And it’s also where my trip ended.
I decided to take a nice bathroom break in the forest behind the beach and upon stepping back down onto the cobbles, I snatched a root with my foot and broke both my tibia and fibula just above my ankle. Don’t worry I’m not going to go into physical detail.
I honestly had no idea what I had done at the time other than it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt. My blood sugars remained stable as my peers comforted and protected me. I lost a lot of heat when I shed many of my layers from the heat of the shock of the injury. I had to be evacuated by my professors and peers carrying me and laying me down on the 5 seat back row of the shuttle bus. A nice 45 min. drive to the nearest emergency room was honestly just what I needed. Gave me a chance to catch my breath, regain some strength, not think about what happened and then hand me over to the bustle and brightness and loudness of an emergency room. Of course, upon our arrival at the ER my sugars crashed to 40 arrow down. A lot of sugar later and the overwhelming nerves of being in an ER sky-rocketed my sugars aggressively increased at 200 double arrow up. Just a little insulin to solve that stunt!
I’m thankful to my partner back in Wisconsin who drove the 7 hour round trip to pick me up after his long day at work. And I’m thankful to my professors who kept checking in on me via text and email and at-home visits and for working with me to complete my may term 1 week short. I am thankful to my classmates and the new friends I made who kept me company during my lonely hours in bed. And I am thankful to my mom for flying out last minute to wait on me hand and foot and be there during my surgery. I feel so abundant with love.