My name is Elijah Emery and I am 13 years old. I got diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in May, 2014, on the last day of school. I was at home with my older sister when she noticed that something was wrong. She called my mom who rushed me to the hospital. I was unresponsive and was in full blown DKA (Diabetic ketoacidosis: a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones). My body was turning purple, my organs were shutting down, and I was dying. I spent 3 days in ICU.
Diabetes has totally changed my life. Every day I live with the reality that I can wind up in the hospital, or dead, if I don’t manage it correctly. Although I am good at managing my diabetes, I can’t always tell if my blood sugar is high or low and there are times when I have been in the 30’s and I didn’t even know it.
I believe a Diabetic Alert Dog could save my life. It would make me and my family feel a lot safer. It would be like having a guardian angel with me.
Thank you so much to Canines of Hope and all of the people who help me raise enough money to finally have a Diabetic Alert Dog in my life.
My name is Lesley and I am Elijah’s mom. I have always referred to Elijah as “my joy.” Each one of our children is special in their own unique ways. Elijah was a hummer. As a little boy, he would hum and hum and I knew he was happy.
Elijah is a son, a big brother, a little brother, a friend, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin. He’s a lacrosse player. He plays the cello and he’s a great student. He is a strong, young man with a tender heart who feels deeply as he moves through life.
Elijah was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in May, 2014. He was 12. He had stayed home from school that day because we thought he had the flu. It was his older sister who called me to say that something was horribly wrong with Elijah. When I looked at him, we knew we were not dealing with the flu. When I arrived with Elijah at the hospital, he was unresponsive, turning purple and his chest was heaving as he gasped for air. I carried Elijah like a baby into the emergency room at St. Ann’s Hospital and the woman at the intake desk took one look at him and asked me, “Does he have diabetes?”
I said, “No, we thought he had the flu.”
Dr.’s swarmed him, checked his blood sugar and confirmed he had Type 1 Diabetes and that he was in DKA. With a blood sugar over 800, we were told he was turning purple because his organs were shutting down and that his whole body was working to keep his brain and heart alive. Our entire family was shocked trying to understand what was happening. He was transferred to Columbus Children’s Hospital where he stayed in ICU.
The doctors tended Elijah and educated us on what was happening as well as helping us identify signs leading up to this very, horrible day. It was all making sense: mood swings, occasional bed wetting, lethargy, throwing up, being treated for strep throat a month earlier. We thanked God for His care of Elijah and for the wisdom and knowledge of the doctors.
When we left Children’s Hospital with our 61 pound 12 ½ year old with T1D and a load of diabetic supplies, I was overwhelmed and terrified. I was asking myself, “Are we all smart enough to keep our boy alive? Can we do this?”
A lot of prayer and the support of Children’s Hospital, family, friends got us through those first months and continue to get us through. Elijah’s life was changed forever that day, yes, but he is still the same amazing young man he has always been. He perseveres in highs, lows, good times and bad, happy or sad. He has good friends he keeps near to him and if kids are unkind toward him because of his diabetes, he never gives up. He has learned to work through the grief, sadness, depression, fear, anxiety that comes with having his life turned upside down. I admire him every day.
Our whole family is educated on living with diabetes and we all support Elijah. Elijah’s 21 year old brother knows what it feels like to check his blood glucose. Elijah’s 10-year-old brother knows how to mix and administer glucagon if he needs to save his brother’s life. His older sister already saved his life once and keeps a watchful eye when she needs to. Elijah’s dad, step-father and I all keep an eye out, assisting Elijah in his management. I’m sometimes asked, “What is your biggest fear for my T1D son?” That’s easy: What will happen if no one is around to assist Elijah, to help him identify if something seems off or to remind him to check his BG when he forgets?
There are many times Elijah has checked his BG and he has been in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. He looks at me as I’m panicked and says, “Mom, I didn’t even “feel it.” I couldn’t even tell I was going low.” These are words I dread hearing from my social, active, becoming-more-and more-independent every day, soon-to-be high schooler. I won’t always be there. Someone won’t always be there. It’s terrifying until I think about Elijah having a Diabetic Alert Dog. A “guardian angel” Elijah calls it. These dogs have saved other peoples’ lives and I know one could save Elijah’s life. Just the thought of having a DAD has changed Elijah’s perspective for his future and his personal safety. A DAD doesn’t take the place of Elijah’s every day management and care, but I can now picture him at lacrosse practice, his dog watching over him, being safe. I can now picture him in college, never having to be alone in his dorm room with a life threatening low. I can feel the same peace for his young future that I do when I envision his siblings’ futures because I can picture him safe.
If I could take Type 1 Diabetes away from Elijah and give it to myself, I would in a heartbeat. Any parent would, but we can’t. Yes, diabetes will always be a part of Elijah’s life, but with management and the extra care of a “guardian angel” (aka: Diabetic Alert Dog) with him, he will not let it control him.
Elijah just broke 100 pounds and has grown to 5’1 ½” tall. He’s who he has always been, just with T1D. He’s a beautiful person and he’s a fighter. He’s patiently waiting to meet his new best friend and “guardian angel” in the Diabetic Alert Dog divinely appointed for him. We are thankful to Canines of Hope and every single person who reads Elijah’s story and helps him get one step closer to his dog. His heart has joy as he hums, and the hearts of all of us who love him have peace.
If you would like to make a donation to help Elijah, you can use the PayPal link on the homepage of Canines of Hope webpage. Simply put Elijah Emery in the “donation for” box and that will allow all donations made in his honor to go directly towards payment for his Diabetic Alert Dog.*** ALL DONATIONS ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE .*** You will get a receipt confirming your PayPal donation or you can email Canines of Hope to request a receipt:
You also have the option to mail a donation, with Elijah Emery in the memo line, to: Canines of Hope
4911 Schneider Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103 (Checks payable to Canines of Hope).
Thank you so much for caring.