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A Diabetic Alert Dog

Organized by: Cierra Thomas

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THE STORY:

Hello, I am a 16 year old living with Type One Diabetes since I was 11 years old. I was diagnosed in October of 2011. If you did not know, Type One Diabetes is where the body does not produce insulin. The body breaks down the sugars and starches you eat into a simple sugar called glucose, which it uses for energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. Anytime a diabetic is sick, has a head cold, or even an infection it can affect their blood sugar. Diabetes is managed with the help of insulin therapy and other treatments. Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) condition that needs constant close attention. There is currently no cure. Diabetes is an illness that is a life sentence and is very difficult to handle at times. According to the American Diabetes Association, some complications with Type 1 Diabetes include, kidney disease, hypertension, eye disease, nerve damage, and heart disease to name a few. It is also the 7th leading cause of death. My family and I have researched Diabetic Alert Dogs and know that it is for us. D.A.D. service dogs are trained to recognize and alert on the scent of low and/or high blood sugar in diabetics. Partnering with a D.A.D. will have a significant impact on my life including the potential to save it. With the help of your generous donation this goal can be met. Here is what my mother said about my diagnosis: “1 year ago today my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Oct 10, 2011 is forever etched into my mind & heart as I sat helplessly watching my daughter slip away from me with a BG of 647, (a normal BG is 120). I'm forever grateful to the ER doctors that responded expediently and got us transported to the PICCU, before I could even comprehend what was going. I am forever indebted to the 2 PICCU nurses that were sent in the ambulance to stabilize the very critical condition she was in. For our 4 day stay in the PICCU department we were treated by a wonderful staff doctors and nurses, who diligently cared for her and taught us how to deal with the diagnosis. I'm fortunate to say that my daughter is here and thriving. Other than the "pager sized" insulin pump that she has attached to her 24/7, you wouldn't even know that anything is different about her. We are managing the disease, one day at a time.” What is a diabetic alert dog and how will it help me?: A Diabetic Alert Dogs can do the following: - Detect impending Hypo (low) and Hyper (high) Glycemia (*Most Important) - Dial 911 - Bringing needed objects, such as medications, juice, snacks, etc - Alerting other family members and friends if help is needed - Another benefit is being a comfort during things like site changes (meaning when I have to change my insulin pump) and finger pricks - Retrieving a cell phone for assistance -Test your breath on command for low or high blood sugar. - Act as a brace if I've fallen and need support getting up - Helping keeping a watchful eye during physical exercise as blood sugars are known to spike up and down rapidly during activity Over the years I have started to fall into hypo and hyper glycemia unawareness— a condition that means I don’t experience the symptoms most people do when their blood sugar gets too low or high. It is life threatening and dangerous every time it happens. Seizures and blackouts are common after these events. Having a DAD would help alert me before it gets to this point so that I could correct the blood sugar. Lately it’s been getting increasingly harder to get up and find a snack/juice or get my meter because by that point I am very shaky, dizzy, nauseous, etc. A DAD would provide decreased worry about hypoglycemia/hyperglycemia episodes, improved quality of life, enhanced ability to participate in physical activities and so much more. At my latest endocrinologist appointment my A.1C was in the low 8’s.. not good as normal ranges are in the 6.x range. Having my A1C stay in this range for an extended period of time could cause some serious complications and further impact my health negatively and I already have enough on my plate. Before the unawareness and other things my A1C was actually at 5.6- which is near someone who doesn’t have diabetes. I would like to get that, or near that, range back but it is frustrating as I am doing all on my end that I can. I believe with the extra help of a DAD I would be able to accomplish that, and much more. Additionally, in a couple years (2) I will be heading off to college and this would provide a lot of peace of mind to my family and myself. Dying in the middle of sleep, known as "dead in bed", is all too common among diabetics. Sometimes I am afraid to go to sleep in fear of not waking up in the morning. Having a DAD there to alert me during the night before sugars get too high or low would be great as I don’t wake up or have any feeling for them and also am a heavy deep sleeper. It will also be a big transition to a new and independent lifestyle, and having a DAD would be like having a second mom watching over my condition. Change of environment and stress, two things common in college, also cause unpredictable changes to blood sugar. Luckily, the Americans with Disabilities Act consider a Diabetic Alert Dog a “Service Dog” and by federal law are permitted to accompany me everywhere I go. What will the funds be used for?: $1,200 – Vizsla Puppy (chosen for it’s temperament, personality, needs, proven service dog track record and strong scent ability) $10,000-Diabetic Alert Dogs of America Training (http://www.diabeticalertdogsofamerica.com/#!starter-school/c1zxx) $336 -CrowdRise 3% charge per donation. Grand total: $11,536 which we’ll round to $11,600. We chose to go with Diabetic Alert Dogs of America because of their highly experienced trainers, have the best alert dog-training program in my opinion, and they offer the most “bang” for your buck. Here are some testimonials: http://www.diabeticalertdogsofamerica.com/#!testimonials/c1p39. How does a DAD “work”?: Dogs have over 200,000,000 sensors that can smell individual elements in parts per trillion, versus current technology’s ability to identify items in parts per million. Rapid changes in the blood sugar levels cause chemical changes in the body that are expressed through a person’s breath and skin, and include unique chemical elements that the dog can smell. Research indicates that the identifiable changes in a diabetic’s chemistry derived from his/her breath or sweat precedes the measurable change in blood sugar currently measured by glucose meters by 15 to 30 minutes. The dog can be trained to identify the onset of these changes and react to his/her handler when it is smelled. Dogs are trained to react in different ways to an owner who is having a high or low blood sugar episode. Examples include: • holding a particular toy in their mouth as a signal • jumping on the owner • sitting and staring at the owner • touching the owner with the its nose As much as I wish, I can’t make diabetes go away, so I’ll just have to manage it the best I can until they find a cure. It would mean a lot to me if you can share my story and page to others. If you can donate, any amount is a huge help on helping me achieve the goal. If you can’t, even just simply sharing my page would help. Through the help of those who donate to my cause or share my page, I know I can achieve the goal to afford a Diabetic Alert Dog! Any extra funds accrued will be donated to JDRF (www.jdrf.com) for research. For more information on Diabetic Alert Dogs, please check out: http://thebark.com/content/service-dogs-diabetics http://can-do-canines.org/ourdogs/diabetes-assist-dogs/ https://www.diabeteshealth.com/diabetes-alert-dogs/ Thank you for your time.

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Cierra Thomas

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