April 7th is World Health Day, and this year’s theme is DIABETES. As most of my readers know, my son was diagnosed with diabetes, shortly after his sixth birthday. Diabetes is a Chronic Condition that affects nearly 6 million people. Today my son is all grown up, married and the father of two beautiful children.
A parent’s worst fears for a child living with diabetes is low blood sugar. It can happen at any time of the day or night, and may often lead to a seizure. My son’s condition was considered brittle, meaning his blood sugar dropped dangerously low in a matter of minutes. Often in seconds.
One day I heard of a possible miracle. A dog that could detect low blood sugar in diabetes patients by scent. The year was approximately 2008 or 2009. My son was graduating from college and engaged to be married. Regardless of how tight my son controlled his blood sugar, he was still plagued by unexpected seizures. As a mother, I was desperate at the time.
I did my research online and off. I spoke to doctors together with local organizations who did not support the dog-scent idea. Why? Because there wasn’t any science to back it up. No data, no human trials. This is only what I was told. I often wonder, if the powers that be were parents of a child living with seizures due to diabetes, would they have thought any differently?
To make a long story short, my son received his diabetic alert dog, a beautiful British black Labrador puppy of six weeks old in the spring of 2009. Four of us spent the weekend in Mississippi learning all that we could about D.A.D’s (Diabetic Alert Dogs). We took training classes for several days while relishing my son’s new hope of living with fewer seizures. I want to make it clear, these dogs are not to be considered pets. First and foremost, they are working dogs. They are only as good as their masters are willing to work with them. It is not easy and is a full-time commitment.
Although hard to believe, on the very first night that the dog slept in our barren motel room, sounds of “sniff-sniff-sniff” alerted my son to a low blood sugar! Tiny fur of jet black crawled and pawed to lap and lick his neck and face. Yes, the little pup knew!
Today, Nimbus, named after a cloud, has been a faithful servant to my son ever since that very first night. He’s saved him from seizures and perhaps even his life more times than I can count. In fact, I can’t recall the last time my son suffered a seizure! Nimbus loves the whole of his family, especially his younger sister and brother, who tosses him a tennis ball during his off time.
Nimbus has slowed down during the last couple of years but still goes to work with my son at the National Weather Service, where he’s treated like one of the brightest stars high in the sky.