Monday, April 30, 2012

Things I have learned.

I really need a reminder sometimes that listening to my diabetic alert dog really is in my best interest. I was sitting at my desk at work today and had just finished lunch about 1:15 before that. Duchess paws at my leg to let me know that my blood sugar is moving down. I was thinking to myself there is no way it was low after over an hour. So I ignore her and go back to working. Then Duchess being the character she is gets upset with me. She picks up her water dish that she just finished drinking out and throws it at my leg. She is getting really agitated with me at this point. So I tell her I will test right now so she will leave me alone for two minutes. I test it was 65. Goes to show you that she was right again.

Honestly I need a dog who is very persistent. I can get into quite a fog when I drop quickly and Duchess always seems to get my attention one way or another. She knows me all too well. I get so hyper focused on my work from time to time its almost to easy to ignore things like my blood sugar. One of these days I will learn to consistently listen to my diabetic alert dog until then I will continue to attempt at doing so.

Life with Duchess has been quite entertaining to say the least. I had no idea that having a service dog with a personality meant the water dish being thrown at me but I guess it does. She has so much more personality than I ever expected to see in a service dog. She is a blessing and at the same time drives me crazy but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My story and how it brought Duchess into my life.

My life as a type 1 diabetic has never been dull. Always something going on. I used to feel like I was on a roller coaster as a kid. I would swing from high to low frequently. I was tested for epilepsy quite a few time because of all the seizures I had as a kid. Things did calm down for a bit but even as a child I remember times where I would not have the normal symptoms of low blood sugar but never thought any thing of it.

In 2008 my life took some dramatic changes my mother passed away at 52 years old. She was my best friend and biggest supporter. My mother and I shared a great deal of things in common including type 1 diabetes. I was diagnosed at 18 months old and she was diagnosed at 36 years old. My mother was incredible and went above and beyond in everything she did. She even became a nurse to better understand diabetes and how she could help me. I still miss her dearly especially as things went very awry after she passed away. When she was gone things were so tough. My mother died of a heart issue. It was a surprise to us to find out shortly before she passed that she had rheumatic fever as a child and it was never treated. Which destroys your heart valves. I learned grief is like having a second job and I was so busy with it my diabetes monitoring went down sadly.

In June of 2008 I was driving home from work and blacked out driving. I don't remember any part of the drive home. Except waking up in an ambulance and a cop yelling at me. I was really scared and confused. The ambulance driver kicked the cop out and got me treated. I did start to remember some things about that drive but not much. The cops on the scene wanted me to do a sobriety test because they felt I was either high or drunk even after the EMS telling them I had low blood sugar. My roommate had showed up and thankfully told the cops I would not be doing a sobriety test. That a diabetic would fail when their blood sugar has been low like mine was. I know the incident with the cops was not good in fact a woman took a video of what happened with the cops they had been extremely rough even with my cooperating with their instructions according to the woman. I woke up the next day with bruises every where. I talked with my endocrinologist the next day and we decided it was time to got back on the insulin pump which I agreed with.

I tried to see if the pump would help reduce the number of lows I was having but after 6 months it really was not making enough difference. On several occasions after work on the way to my car I would get disoriented and get lost. I worked at a big university and that could be very dangerous. I also had passed out at work and home. I really need something more to help. I tried the CGMS but that also was not helping enough. Most of the time It would alert after I had passed out. I have had times where my blood sugar would drop 60 or more points in just minutes. That could be very dangerous for me. So i was researching online when I came across this article online about diabetic alert dogs. I knew that was probably my best option. I had had several concussions, stitches and stress fractures from lows since all the crazy lows I was having.

I did a great deal of research on having a service dog and what that would entail and I knew that might be right for me. I was losing my life as I knew it. I was so afraid to drive, and go anywhere for any length of time. I started staying home and missing out on life. I knew I wanted my freedom back. So i started the process with a trainer outside of Texas where I live. I had to do quite a bit of fundraising these service dogs are quite expensive and insurance will not help pay for one. I received Duchess my service dog in August of  2010. It has been an interesting adventure so far but I would change a thing. I really feel that my service dog is a great match for my personality and lifestyle. Duchess gave me back my life and there is just no words to how thankful I am. Especially to the trainer, my family and friends who donated money to help make this happen. There has been some great improvements since I got my dog. My Alc have never been better. I don't have as many lows and rarely get high numbers which is wonderful.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Is a diabetic alert dog right for me?

Is a diabetic alert dog for me?

I think any tool in a diabetics arsenal can be a wonderful thing. I have been seeing a large amount of people who see diabetic alert dogs as a way to test less. This is not the case. I test even more now that I have my diabetic alert dog.

I have seen a growing number of people seeking out the dogs to help with their children's diabetes but there is so much that goes into having a diabetic alert dog. I spend time each week to keep up my dogs training. To take your dog out in public their is expectations of how they must be groomed. Their is the food, vet bills, and gear. I know their is a very delicate balance of all these aspect to take care on top of the diabetes.

These dogs are not cheap and need a proper balance of time to be a dog and working. Their is so many aspects that can affect if  your dog will work or not work. I know when I first started the process to get a diabetic alert dog I was out of options to help with my hypoglycemia unawareness. I tried the CGM's and that did not work well for me. I do have one now to help me with basal changes or for when I might have to leave Duchess at home. I am on a pump which did reduce the number of lows but not enough.

I am hoping that a person puts a great deal of thought before getting a diabetic alert dog. They are wonderful and mine has saved my life several times. I have had to fight to get access to stores, malls, grocery stores and movie theaters. It is not easy having a service dog. A percentage of the general public will ignore the patches you have on your vests. They will ask intrusive questions and you could be exposed to negativity because some people just don't understand. It has given me a great deal of time to educate the general public which I take every opportunity I can. I think these dogs are wonderful but will never be or should be the end all of your diabetic care.

There is also the aspects that most would not think of. When I walk into a grocery store people are constantly pointing me out to others. There is never a normal shopping trips like I had before I got her. They are more stressful because navigating a shopping cart and a service dog is not an easy thing. I am not a big fan of drawing attention to myself and it makes me very self conscious it is getting easier over time but I would love one day to feel a little more normal.