We would like you to introduce you to our Gavin. He is a happy, fun loving, and energetic 7 year old. He loves all things dinosaur and outdoors. He loves to laugh and joke. He loves to play with his brother and sisters. He is full of life and fills our lives with laughter. Gavin also has Type 1 Diabetes. T1D is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks beta cells in the pancreas. These beta cells are responsible for insulin production. Over time the body in unable to produce its own insulin and has no way of getting rid of excess sugar. The sugar builds up in the body and levels become so high the person may develop Diabetic Ketoacidosis or DKA. DKA can lead to coma or death. In order to avoid this and the many other complications of diabetes, multiple daily injections of insulin are required. Gavin requires at least 4 injections a day, more if he wants to eat extra or if he needs a correction for high blood sugar. It also requires he check his blood sugar levels with a finger prick at least 4 times a day. Again this can be more depending on his sugar levels that day. A low or a high may cause the need for several extra tests leading us to test as much as 10 to 12 times in one day. Gavin’s Story In August of 2015 Gavin caught an upper respiratory infection. It seemed to get worse so we took him to the pediatrician. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and after a round of antibiotics his pneumonia was gone but he didn’t seem quite himself. He looked pale and tired. He began taking naps. I would often find myself asking him if he felt okay. I told my husband he just didn’t look well and didn’t seem like himself. September came and went with no major changes. October came and I noticed Gavin began asking for water to drink more often. He began having accidents at night which was very unusual. It was the week of Halloween that I knew something was very wrong. We went to meet friends for lunch at a playland. Gavin played and ate a few bites of lunch before he came and told me he had been sick and wanted to go home. The following night he was unable to make it an hour trick or treating without having to go to the bathroom despite using the restroom right before we left the house. I called our pediatrician the next morning. As soon as we got to the office that afternoon Gavin had to use the restroom. I asked for a specimen cup and took him to the bathroom. Within minutes we were in a room. The nurse asked a few questions and Gavin’s doctor came in. He simply asked if I suspected Gavin was diabetic. I told him yes. He said I was correct, the glucose in Gavin’s urine sample was over 500. He told us to get to Children’s Hospital right away. I took Gavin and his siblings straight to the hospital. I called my husband and he left work to meet us there. We arrived and I explained to the triage nurse that the pediatrician had sent us and we were taken to a room within minutes. Gavin gave another urine sample and we waited. After three long hours in the emergency room the doctor ordered a blood sugar test which indicated Gavin’s sugar was over 500. Further testing showed he had an A1C of 11.9. An A1C is a test of blood sugar levels over the past three months. A normal A1C is between 4 and 5.6%. We were admitted immediately and taken upstairs. After we were settled, my husband took our other kids home, and I settled in for the first of many restless nights. I watched all night as the nurses came in and changed saline bags, checking his ketones, and blood sugar levels. At the time I thought I knew what diabetes was but I didn’t know how serious and difficult Type 1 Diabetes is. The next day was much of the same. A nurse educator and dietician came in to give us a rushed education in diabetes care. We were sent home that very night, overwhelmed, exhausted, and scared. They taught us how to count carbs, how to dose insulin, and how to check for ketones but they didn’t tell us about stubborn lows and highs. They didn’t tell us how exercise such as running, swimming, or sledding can cause scary drops hours later sometimes overnight. For every one thing they had time to teach us there were ten things they didn’t have time for. We weren’t told about Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) or pumps or D.A.D.s (Diabetic Alert Dogs). We weren’t told how certain foods can cause a delayed high, even when you dose for them, hours later blood sugar levels can increase causing a delayed high, extra treatment, and later a possible low. When you only have 3 hours there is only so much you can say to already overwhelmed parents. It is now March of 2016. We still wake at least once a night to check Gavin’s levels at 2:00 a.m.. We still worry if we are giving enough insulin or to much. Leaving the house requires we pack all of Gavin’s supplies even for a quick trip to the store. Lows can come on quickly and requiring fast acting sugar to help bring him up. Every day something changes and new challenges arise. Why We Chose a Diabetic Alert Dog We have learned as much as possible about caring for Gavin on our own. We have presented him with his options and made a promise to provide the best care possible. We know that a CGM and monitor will be useful tools, when Gavin is ready for them. Right now he doesn’t want anything attached to his body. We could force him to use these tools, however, we feel Gavin is already overwhelmed in dealing with a new diagnosis and realizing he will require life long care. We would like to work on getting him to accept these tools willingly, when he can fully understand their benefit. Gavin’s best option at this point is a D.A.D. (Diabetic Alert Dog) not only will this give us the added layer of monitoring and safety it will give Gavin the comfort and companionship that only a dog can provide. A D.A.D. won’t take the place of the monitoring we already do but it can help us catch highs and lows before they become too high or too low. It can also help monitor when we are out on activities such as hiking when lows can come on quickly with little warning. We are new to this disease and what changes will come. Gavin is still growing and as he grows his diabetes management will change but his need for constant monitoring and insulin will not. We would like to be prepared with all the tools available to us to ensure Gavin is well taken care of and to avoid complications resulting from diabetes. No one method is perfect but given enough safeguards Gavin will have the best chance of growing into a healthy adult while learning to be vigilant and care for himself. After looking over many great service dog providers we have chosen to work with Alert Service Dogs because of their commitment to providing quality trained Diabetic Alert Dogs. We have chosen to utilize Canines of Hope for their commitment to helping families raise the funds to acquire a service dog. These are both amazing organizations and we feel they are the best choices for our families needs and to provide Gavin with a highly trained companion. We appreciate you taking the time to read and share our story.
If you would like to make a donation in Gavin’s honor to help us reach our goal of $20,000 you can use the Paypal link on the homepage of Canines of Hope webpage. Simply put Gavin’s name in the ‘donation for’ box and that will allow all donations made in his honor to go directly towards payment on his Diabetic Alert Dog. All donation are tax deductible. You will get a receipt confirming your Paypal donation or you can email us to request a receipt. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or you can mail a donation, with Gavin’s name in the memo line to: Canines of Hope, 4911 Schneider Rd., Ann Arbor, Mi 48103. (Checks payable to Canines of Hope)
Thank you again for your time, consideration and support as we work to raise the money to place our son with one of these life saving medical alert dogs.