Thursday, November 22, 2012

Diabetic alert dog - Thankful family

For weeks I tried to think what I was going to post on Thanksgiving. I am thankful for my family, but I have posted about that before, so today I want to share a story with you that I read in THE OKLAHOMAN NEWSOK.COM by Jaclyn Cosgrove. I am thankful that the Buckminster family is going to be able to obtain a Diabetic Alert Dog for their little girl. The story is one of those that makes you THANKFUL that your family is healthy or semi-healthy. Yes, my Granddaughter is Type 1 Diabetic and my Mom, sister and I are Type 2 Diabetics, but this little 3 YEAR OLD GIRL'S story made me thankful for everything me and my family have. I get a little ticked off when people say "a diabetic just has to watch what they eat," well it is NOT that simple! Yes, watching your diet helps, but if you are a Type 1 diabetic that is not the are stuck with a lifelong disease...please read this entire post and learn.
Every two hours, every night, an alarm goes off in Taylor and Joy Buckminster's bedroom. And every two hours every night, Taylor or Joy gets up and checks their daughter's blood sugar. This is a routine the parents have had for the past two years. In about two months, the Buckminsters, of Enid, Oklahoma, will receive an $18,000.00 "diabetic alert system" that will better enable them to predict their daughter's blood sugar. The "system" weighs about 40 pounds and is about 8 months old and is named Memphis. Kaleigh can't wait for the diabetic alert dog to arrive. The Buckminsters will get Memphis from the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs, one of the first companies in the nation to train dogs for this specific purpose.
Kaleigh was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 13 months old. Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease in which there are high levels of sugar in the blood. She was diagnosed after being sick for three weeks. After several doctor's appointments her parents took her to the emergency room. When the hospital staff took Kaleigh's blood sugar, it was 868. A normal range is 80 to 180 and doctors like 80 to 100 best. The staff thought their equipment was broken. They told the Buckminsters that they were lucky Kaleigh was still with them, it was a miracle she was alive.
The family has held at least nine fundraisers to raise money to buy Memphis who costs $18,000.00. According to Jaclyn Cosgrove's story they have raised about $15,800.00 so far. They also will have to feed the dog a special food that costs $50.00 per bag. Add veterinary bills, and the family is looking at taking on a significant commitment, but they appreciate what Memphis is going to do for their family. (They are such a young family and I can't imagine all those expenses. Just the diabetic testing and doctor visits add up)
The National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs, explained that a diabetic alert dog is trained to smell its owners' changes in blood sugar levels. When someone with diabetes has high blood sugar, their body produces ketones, which produce a sweet smell. Ketones are produced when a diabetic's body start burning fat for energy instead of glucose, according to the American Diabetes Association.
If a diabetic's ketone levels are too high, it can lead to a diabetic coma or death. (Ketones are what has put our Granddaughter in the hospital ER several times over the years.) Alert dogs also smell when their owners' blood sugar gets too low. In this instance, it's more of an acetone smell. When levels are 30s or 40s a person can have a seizure while they are sleeping. For Memphis to learn what Kaleigh's smells were, her parents placed cotton balls in her mouth when she had different blood sugar levels.
Memphis is being taught to paw an adult to alert them if Kaleigh's sugar levels are off. When she is old enough, he will learn to paw her to let her know. It will take between six months and a year before a dog is accurate. But the more time Memphis spend with Kaleigh, the better he will get. This will be really important once she gets older and starts school.
IF YOU KNOW A CHILD ANY CHILD MAKE SURE THEIR PARENT HAS THEIR BLOOD SUGAR CHECKED!!! We did not find out about our grandaudhter's Type 1 diabetes untill she was 11 years old...just one finger prick and a test at the doctor's office would have found it sooner!
Why all doctors everywhere do not automatically check blood sugar is beyond me. The check should be done every year at the regular check up for every child! Yes, I do get on my soap box when it comes to this topic. 
Thank you readers and thank you Jaclyn Cosgrove for putting this story in the paper.

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