Summertime

We have had a really busy last couple of weeks!

We have a local group of type 1 families that get together now and then.  Sometimes with kids, sometimes just moms (and occasionally dads).  It stemmed from Diabetes Outdoors and sort of took off from there.  We have a facebook group where we can all ask questions, share thoughts, or just be constant support.  Last year, a handful of us went to diabetes camp together.  This year, I think we had 14 families come along!  It’s so awesome to get to build on friendships but even better that we’re also building relationships and friendships for our kids in their own community.  They’re all different ages and genders, but they all get to know each other, have get-togethers and know that their parents are all friends.

This is just the families from our local area at camp! We made up about 40% of the population that weekend!

The following weekend, Bret Michaels was playing at our county fair and we decided to take a bunch of the kids.  Parents worked together to get a hold of his manager and they decided to allow a quick meet and greet before he played.  As we lined up for a picture he said if anyone needed anything, they’ve got lots of supplies.  I responded that the same went the other way, if he needed anything, we’d all have plenty of supplies with us and he said, that’s right, we’ll take care of each other.  Pretty cool.  He signed autographs for a few kids and generally seemed like a good guy.

Kids waiting for Bret Michaels

Camden meeting Bret Michaels

Then, last night we went to a Dodger game.  I’d won tickets in a drawing from JDRF just a few days before and figured it would be great training for Miss Molly!  As we walked into the stadium we were shocked to see a guide dog group was in the same section as us with several of their puppies-in-training!  I talked to a couple of the girls and found out that none of them had been there with the dogs before either.  We were all wondering how these big dogs would fit, but it worked!  We brought a “place” (rug) for Molly to lay on under our seats and she did great.  We had to clear out piles of  peanut shells that were tempting her (I’m pretty sure she found a few strays to snack on) but otherwise she fit just fine.  Although she was in super tight quarters, she was on excellent behavior and twice scooted herself around to reach and grab her bringsel (C was running pretty high for some unknown reason).  Without any commotion or having to get up she grabbed it, we responded by testing C and then gave her a treat and lots of petting.  She was able to keep her excitement totally under control and stay right where she was.  I’ve often wondered how alerts will work in certain situations and this eased all concerns I’ve had.  I did take her up to the deck above our seats to get a drink of water and walk her around a bit and I think most people were surprised to see a big dog walking up the stairs.  She was such a good girl, I don’t think most people had realized she was there!

Miss Molly checking out the game

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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.

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.