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Friday, July 20, 2012

Why a Diabetic Alert Dog? (part I)

It occurred to me last night that we're telling everyone we're trying to get a Diabetic Alert Dog (D.A.D.) for Bella, but no one has really asked why. Lots of families deal with Type-1 Diabetes everyday without the assistance of a D.A.D.

 So why is this so important to us?

This is a "gianormous" undertaking for our family. Adjusting to the diagnoses, learning about Bella's disease and trying to obtain a service dog in a span of 31 days (as of today). I've had to think about the why a lot, and there are lots of reasons.

Anyone who knows us knows that we are "animal people". A service dog would just fit into our family and settles into our general philosphies of the people / animal dynamic. I spent parts of my childhood with a duck that chased the school bus and a sheep that wore diapers for crying out loud. And I didn't even grow up in the country. So we get animals, we get their value to the family and all the responsibility that comes with them.

Here are the things that stick out to me, for our situation.

Bella is 2 1/2 years old, she is not able to articulate what she is feeling. An older child would be able to say "I don't feel good" or "I'm dizzy" etc. when a low is coming. Bella isn't able to do this as of now. When we asked the doctors about this, they gave us a list of signs to look for to catch a low:

1. Grumpy baby
2. Sweaty
3. Sleepy / Lethargic

That's a great list, but I got to thinking about the common signs of having a two-year old in North Carolina during the summer months around noon everyday.

1. Grumpy baby
2. Sweaty
3. Sleepy / Lethargic

A trained D.A.D. will be able to to tell the difference between a low and the terrible 2s (3s,4s,5s etc.) immediately.

Then there is bedtime...
Since Bella has come home from the hospital she has slept in the bed with her mom most nights. (which puts me on the couch with 2 dogs and 2 cats most nights, although I have developed a disturbing trend of falling asleep in the recliner with a banjo in my hands this week.) We are checking BG#s every few hours during the night. Mostly Mommy is doing this because of proximity and motherly instinct, but there are still incoherent late night "what do we do if...." conferences. The problem with lows at night is that they can lead to seizures and coma. Although these instances are fairly rare I challenge any parent who knows this is a nightly possibility to sleep soundly. Again, once trained the D.A.D. will sleep in Bella's room and will be able to alert us if there is a problem in the night.

There will be a part two to this post in the near future, but I did want to get some of our thinking as a family "out there".
In the meantime Bella made you some wooden cookies...

1 comment:

  1. Well said and I hope you are well on your way getting the dog.