Laura and Darwin
Early Alert Canines has just finished another team training where two adults with diabetes were placed with blood sugar alert dogs, as well as one family with a four year old daughter with diabetes.
The young family has been home with their dog, Darwin, for almost one week. Face Book postings are telling the wonderful story of how Darwin is reveling in his job of alerting to high and low blood sugar changes. Sometimes when a dog first goes home with his new partner, it takes a while for the dog to adjust to the new routine, new people, and new environment. NOT DARWIN! In the few days he has been in his new ‘forever home’ he has alerted the mother of his new young charge, Laura, at pre-school, at home, during soccer practice and during dance class. Good boy, Darwin!
I would like to share this ‘post’ written by Laura’s mother, explaining how difficult it is to regulate a young child’s diabetes, and what a gift Darwin has already been in their lives:
It was brought to my attention that with all the posts recently about how great Darwin is at helping us manage Laura’s type one diabetes, as well as posting about highs and lows, that people might perceive it that we didn’t have control without him. First of all, T1D Managment is an art, not a science. The body is always changing and so do insulin needs. When Laura is getting sick, we know ahead of time from wacky numbers. When she’s stressed, we can tell from the numbers. We are constantly changing insulin ratios to try to match her insulin needs. As you can imagine, it’s a daily battle that is hit and miss. Large swings in the numbers is normal, while not ideal. One has to be most concerned about lows and chronic highs.
Prior to having Darwin we would have to rely on trying to read the signs of highs and lows from Laura’s behavior and mood. She’s 4. Sometimes a 4 year olds behavior is similar to a diabetic having a low. With Darwin, he smells a difference and he can let us know. Laura can tell us if she’s low if she’s relaxed. But in the soccer situation, she showed no visible signs of a low nor did she mention anything. Darwin helped us intercept that before it got very dangerous.
We have also used a continuous glucose monitor that works with her pump. The CGM can give us an indication if she’s on the way up or down. It’s not 100% accurate and there are delays in the readings. There is a 20-30 minute lag time generally. Darwin will, in most cases, be able to catch a low before it happens. The CGM is also one more piece of equipment Laura has to have punctured into her. As a mom, if I can get similar or better information from a black fuzzy doggie rather than a sensor stuck in her I will use the dog.
That being said, new technology is always in the pipeline for T1D management. When the new stuff comes out, Laura will have it.
In future posts I will be more clear about how Darwin has changed the way we handle things.
Type one diabetes sucks. I will use anything and everything to make sure Laura is as happy and healthy as she can be. For now and for ever.
T1D means Type 1 Diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, called beta cells. While its causes are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved. Its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D, and—at present—nothing you can do to get rid of it. (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation)
A person who has been diagnosed with T1D must take insulin in order to say alive.