Running Into the Horror Stories

I don’t know how to start this other than to say that it’s not an upbeat positive post, it’s negative and scary.  I wasn’t sure how/if to share this with anyone else, but keep feeling the need to express the story.  That’s my disclaimer.

Molly (C’s Diabetic Alert Service Dog) came home a few days ago.  She’d been with her trainers for an entire month.  She goes to work with three different super-trainers who work on obedience, public access and scent work in order to make sure we’re on track, see where we need help and give pointers.  We picked her up from T who told me this story.

T and a friend took Molly and some kids to a restaurant for public access work.  The kids wanted to eat outside, but the adults stayed in with Molly for practice.  After eating, they went to the outdoor area to talk to the kids.  There was a couple there and the man walked over to tell T that they give money to support a service dog organization.  T explained that Molly is a Diabetic Alert Dog and what her role is.  The man proceeded to tell her that they had just lost their son to type 1 diabetes the previous week.  He died in his sleep apparently from a low blood sugar despite having five roommates in the house.  He was 24 years old and using a pump.  He asked T if she would bring Molly over to meet his wife, which of course she did.  T told me that the woman hugged Molly and just cried on her for quite some time.  Molly didn’t budge and just provided this mother with the therapy she needed in that moment.

I can’t imagine how this couple felt meeting Molly.  I can’t imagine how it would feel to be in T’s place.  She told me that Molly had touched a number of people over the month that she was away, but this was by far the most significant.  I can’t figure out how this story makes me feel.  Does it scare me? More than I can imagine.  For obvious reasons, but also it scares me that I could run into this couple or another just like them and be faced with it in person.

C overheard the conversation and asked me about it later.  I asked if it made him worry and he said no because B (our old Animas rep) had diabetes for “a really long time and nothing like that’s happened.”  I wish that were enough for me.

This disease is not just about chasing numbers and trying to achieve your goal A1c.  It’s about keeping your child (or yourself) alive.  It’s praying that everything you’re doing works without ending in tragedy.  I know this isn’t an isolated story.  I have heard way too many of them.  We cannot afford to live in blinders thinking that in this day and age our kids will end up just fine.  It’s not a fair to the families who’ve done all they can and who’s kids weren’t ok.

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It’s Happening

C’s application was approved.  He will be receiving a Diabetic Alert Dog!!

This is such exciting news.  We’ve struggled for a while now with him having trouble feeling lows and not feeling a hint of a symptom of highs.  He craves freedom and I want him to have it more than anything.  He’s 12 years old.  Yet, sleepovers scare me to death.  The idea of him forgetting to test and not feeling a low; not feeling the high that comes from a site accidentally pulling out; the thought of him not having help while he’s out or a friend not knowing how to respond when it comes down to it.  These thoughts get to me and it’s hard to move past them.

We’d considered a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM).  C’s insurance does not cover it so we weren’t in a big rush, but have definitely discussed it many times.   C knows that I wanted it.  and I know that he doesn’t.  He does not like the idea of another site.  He hates the idea of carrying another item.  He’s already silenced all of the alarms on his pump so that they don’t go off in class and embarrass him…  But a dog?  He would definitely not resent a dog.  He loves the idea of a dog.  I love the idea of using a natural resource and tapping into its abilities.

This is the route for us and I cannot wait to start the journey.  Oh, that’s right… it’s going to be quite the journey.  The organization, Guardian Angel Diabetic Alert Dogs, is doing a sort of co-training with us.  Instead of us waiting 1 1/2 to 2 years for a fully trained dog, we will be receiving a brand spanking new baby puppy in January.  But not just any puppy, one who has been diabetic scent imprinted, meaning exposed to the scent we want it looking for since birth when nursing.  This puppy is bred to be a working dog and is being taught the scent we want to know about.

Still, we won’t be alone.  When we get the puppy (who’s due to be born in about 5 more weeks) we will get a full weekend of teaching us how to train.  We will enroll in a standard puppy training class, we will do scent work.  After 2-4 months, puppy will go back to the trainers for a month.  They will do more intense training including lots of public access work (remember, this dog will go everywhere!).  Then, it comes back to us for another 2-4 months with new instructions on what we need to focus on.  This cycle will repeat until the dog is 1 1/2 to 2 years old and fully trained.  We will be getting our hands held through the entire process yet by having the puppy live with us from the start, it will get precious bonding time with C AND will have the advantage of having real-time training by living with a diabetic.  Not just scent samples, but real-time highs and lows.

I started a facebook page to give updates on our process.  I’d love it if you’d LIKE it and pass the word!

www.facebook.com/camdensguardianangel

D.A.D.

I took a big step today.  A really exciting step.  I sent in C’s application for a Diabetic Alert Dog (D.A.D.).  Please help us say a prayer, think good thoughts, whatever you do to help him get approved and start moving forward on the process.

RIP Pump #1

On Friday afternoon I got a phone call from C letting me know that while swimming (with his summer day-camp), he noticed his pump’s screen was filled with water and he couldn’t get it to turn on.

Yes, that’s a small lake of water in the bottom of the screen

*Yes, the Ping is waterproof.  Yes, I’ve let him swim even with the new one already.  No I don’t think it’s a problem.  C’s Ping has been in the ocean, many swimming pools, jacuzzis (oops! taken off quickly), and water slides and lazy rivers at the water park.  I completely trust its waterproofness.  I later discovered that there was a small tear in the rubber covering the buttons that allowed the water in. 

I called Animas and a new pump was scheduled to be delivered the next morning.  It would end up being about 18 hours later.  I tried to get a hold of his Dr. and another Dr. that he’s seen to double check the amount of Lantus I should give.  I didn’t hear back from anyone for about 3 more hours.  Only 15 hours left until he should be back on a pump.  As soon as the pump should have arrived, we were to be jumping in the car and heading to Dodgers Stadium for the game.  I did not want to deal with overlapping the Lantus and the pump’s basal.  I didn’t want to deal with trying to figure out when the Lantus quit working and the pump started.  I would’ve been happy to under normal circumstance, but not while we’re out trying to watch baseball and eat stadium food in under the blazing hot sun.  I wanted “easy.”

This may or may not be for everyone, so please don’t take advice from me…  I decided to forgo the Lantus and just give corrections every 3 hours. (Yes, I checked with his Dr. to make sure they thought it would be ok FOR US)  It ended up going really well and his numbers were suprisingly “in range” (I’m calling under 200 “in range” when we’re talking about no basal).

At bedtime his number was 117 and he wanted something to eat.  It would’ve only been about 3/4 unit of insulin to cover it and he didn’t need a correction.  I was torn as to whether or not he should give another shot.  I decided against it being that we’d be correcting soon enough.

When I walked in his room carrying a meter, alcohol, a syringe and a vial of insulin I felt fine.  I moved his blanket to find his hand and immediately it hit me.  My son looking so perfect was falling apart on the inside.  I knew his body was being ravaged from that stupid GoGurt he ate.  I realized how the pump masks the issue so well.  Sure there are highs and lows but they always seem so easily treatable.  Knowing there was no pump and no basal, the reality of what would happen if my son didn’t have insulin hit me very hard.  My stomach was so tight waiting to see his number 347 pop up and the 0.7 right after on the ketone meter.

I had to try to wake him from a deep sleep, get him down from his bunk bed and into my room so he’d wake up enough to give himself an injection (he did not want to grant me permission to do it in his sleep).  Two hours later he was in the low 200s with no ketones and had to get up to give another shot.  He was hovering around 100 when we woke up and 97 three hours later when we were getting ready to leave for the stadium.  It’s really interesting seeing how the body reacts when it’s in shock like that.  His numbers were actually super manageable.  Not what I’d expected.

p.s. whole other story but…. UPS didn’t get his pump delivered in time for us to have to leave.  Luckily I text messaged the rep in Los Angeles who we’ve gotten to know pretty well.  He met us 15 minutes away from Dodgers Stadium to hand us a loaner pump.  What a blessing!

Marble Slab

As I may have mentioned many times before, we go to RedBrick Pizza every week or two for their delicious gluten free pizza.

A few doors down from them is a Marble Slab Creamery.  A couple months ago I gave in and we stopped there for some dessert.  I explained C’s celiac disease.  I asked to see their ice cream ingredients, I asked them to use a clean scooper and I asked them not to mix C’s ice cream on the slab, just to put the toppings on top.  Like toppings.  They gave him an extra big bowl so he’d have room to mix his own gummy bears or sprinkles or whatever it was he had.

Since then, we’ve gone a few times.  Maybe 5 or 6?  It not always the same person working, I think we’ve come across two or three people.  The last time we went in something magical happened.   As I was about to order I noticed her walk over and grab a clean scoop, I didn’t think much of it.  Just thought it was time to grab a new one.  I ordered “one scoop bubble gum ice cream with gummy bears…”

She cut me off.  “Not on the slab, right?”

She remembered us!  Can you believe that?  It was so rad realizing that the more we go out, the safer C gets.  The more people we inform of his needs, the more people will help him.

Diet Suicide

My kids are big fans of suicide… not the real deal… the soda mixing deal.  That’s what we called it when I was a kid, do other people call it that?  You know, when you mix all the flavors from the soda fountain?  I hope so or else this whole thing already sounds weird.

I never really bought soda for the house before diabetes came along but if we went out somewhere that had a soda fountain though, I’d let them have at it.  I’m no longer a fan of the mixed soda, but they always love it. 

We went to see the Clippers play the other day.  On our way home we had a car full of four hungry kids who were driving me nuts.  We HAD to make a stop at McDonald’s.  And guess what?!!!  The one in Encino had Diet Coke AND DIET DR. PEPPER!!  C was so excited to make a diet suicide!  Woohoo for restaurants that have more than just one diet option!!

***

p.s. A lot of people around me think that C can’t have sugar or soda BECAUSE they see me giving him diet sodas.  I just want to clear it up that diet sodas = no hassles with blood sugar.  He CAN have regular soda, it just means it’s one more thing to THINK about.  I have to figure out how many carbohydrates to give insulin for it, assuming he’ll drink all of it.  I have to factor in the amount of exercise he’s getting.  I have to understand that the sugar from the soda will hit him fast, there is no protein, fat or fiber to help slow it down.  Full on, liquid sugar is just tricky.  Diet is not.  When we are at a party though and C’s only option is DIET COKE, just like everywhere else, and everyone else is drinking Sprite or Root Beer and that’s what he wants, as long as we’re not already in the middle of a blood sugar nightmare, I let him go for it.

Dear School,

So here’s my day so far and the email sent to the school (and district) today.  Blahhhhh

Hi [School Psychologist] and [School Nurse],

I’m just checking in to see if you were able to come up with any ideas at the meeting this morning about C’s education. I’m also wondering if independent studies of some sort were an option or idea. I’m quite aware of how behind he is and am getting increasingly frustrated, as is he, by not knowing how to help.

I just picked him up from school today due to a high blood sugar and his infusion site (where his insulin pump attaches under his skin) was pulled out. This is not uncommon or very noticeable until a high blood sugar. His clothes will continue to hold the tubing in place making it not that obvious of a problem. However, when I came to change the infusion site, [Health Tech] made it quite clear that she felt that C was lying about the problem and that he’d pulled the site on his own to come home. His story made perfect sense to me as to why he was in the office, how he noticed the problem and everything else he said. [Health Tech], not knowing how the pump operates didn’t think this made any sense. She seemed sure that the pump would’ve known that it had become detached and alarmed to alert him. It would certainly be helpful if it worked that way, but the pump does not know. When C realized that it had become detached he ‘suspended’ the pump, meaning he stopped it from continuing to release insulin, which is exactly what he should’ve done. It would’ve continued leaking insulin until it ran out. When you stop it, it does alarm. Every few minutes it alarms to remind you that it’s no longer delivering insulin, a safety feature. [Health Tech] seemed to assume that when it started alarming is when it was disconnected from his body and that that’s when he pulled it off himself.

I left, taking C with me, feeling very frustrated with the attitude I was feeling from her. C told me that when he showed her that it was detached he grinned (probably because he had just realized the problem??) and she asked why he was smiling and told him it made her think he’d done it on purpose to go home. Type 1 diabetes is a complicated disease.  C is a child doing his best to figure it out on his own while at school. When he has a very high blood sugar my first steps are to check the pump and make sure he’d given insulin for all food eaten and then check the site where it’s connected to make sure it’s still attached. [Health Tech] seemed to be acting like this was totally abnormal and could only happen on purpose.

C is a child who does not need guilt piled on top of everything else. If somebody suspects foul play, I would appreciate a phone call outside of my son’s earshot to talk to me, an adult, about it. I am quite upset by the attitude I received while in the office and can only imagine how a child, already feeling less powerful than an adult, would feel with it directed at them.

This is just another piece of the puzzle that’s leaving me lost as to how to help him succeed at school. C needs another learning option, this one is clearly not working on any levels with him.

Emily B

cc [ ****** Unified School District Health Services Coordinator]