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Friday, August 30, 2013

Stand back we've got a servant dog working here!

The scariest thing about having a child with Type-1 Diabetes is the constant reality that one simple mistake can cost her life. Which is why we are arming ourselves with every tool we can to make things a little easier. Buttons being one of those. Despite the high price tag on a Diabetic Alert Dog, Buttons may have justified that investment tenfold today.

Bella and I walked to Mason's school today to pick him up. As we were packing (yes, with T-1D you have to literally pack a bag to walk 5 blocks) I suggested we leave Buttons at the house. Bella insisted that he come. So I let Buttons outside to attend to any 'business' that may avoid an embarrassing school yard scene. Ok, I've got five minutes to kill. So I check BG just to be sure and Bella is 144, good number for her. We let Buttons in and we're off to the school.

After a ten minute walk we're at the school. Bella spends some time on the playground and finally 2:30 rolls around and we get Mason. The kids want to play some more before we head home. I give Buttons some water, he gets a ton of new fans from all the kids getting out of school. Bella and Mason keep playing. Buttons got one new fan in particular, probably a second grader, who followed us around announcing "We've got a 'servant dog' working here, nobody touch. I repeat Buttons is working!"

Buttons is surrounded by a sea of young admirers and all of a sudden he turns to me with a hard paw to the thigh and focuses on Bella who is probably 300 yards away with her brother. I ask "do we need to check" and he starts literally hopping off of all fours.  I round up the kids, find a place to check, open up the bag and...NO TEST KIT!!! I didn't put it back in the pack before we left.  Buttons is very addled  by this point and keeps pawing and nudging me. I go with my gut that we're low from the heat, running and excitement and give a juice box and fruit snacks. 32g of carbs, it should only take 15g to bring her up but I erred on the side of caution. She is acting fine at this point and we start the 5 block journey home, I didn't want to be stuck out without her testing supplies. We get about a block and Bella starts stumbling. We wait a second, she says she just tripped and she feels good. About a half a block later she falls in the street. I pick her up and start speed walking with Buttons, the supplies and a screaming 3 year old. As my 2 blown discs are starting to feel it, Bella starts talking nonsense and slurring her words, I can feel her head nodding into my shoulder. I've seen this before. I ask her to keep talking to me (something I don't ask of my children much) and walk faster. Poor Mason is lagging behind and has no clue what is happening. I get home and check and Bella is 87 after the 32g of carbs she had 20 minutes earlier.

I have no clue how low she was at the playground because of my boneheaded T-1 brain lapse, but I do know that Buttons let me know that something was wrong in time for me to fix it. Judging from her behavior after treating he very well may have actually saved her life today. Even though we haven't raised all of the money for Button's training yet, I would find a way to pay a million dollars for this dog if I had to.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bella's "Diaversary"

.Last Wednesday (6/19/13) marked the first anniversary of Bella's diagnosis with type-1 diabetes. One year down. We have seen many changes to our way of life in the past year. Most notably learning to care for our daughter. Trying to strike a balance between keeping her safe without putting her in a tiny bubble and insulating her from the rest of the world. We also took up the mission of providing Bella with a Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD), as well as raising funds for said dog. When not fighting the T1D we were focused on fundraising. We still have a little less than a third of the funds to raise but Buttons has been delivered and started his job and continues to train everyday. Throughout this year I have learned how tough our family is. Mommy and Daddy constantly watching, counting,learning,checking and more checking. 24/7. There are no breaks, no time off. Mason the big brother watching his sister and sometimes willingly taking a backseat and always putting Bella's needs first. And then there is Bella, toughest of all of us putting up with the highs and lows, the poking and prodding, the waking up to eat smarties in the middle of the night and still finding the energy to be a vibrant and curious little kid. 

On the anniversary of the diagnosis we decided to have a small gathering of friends and family to celebrate our accomplishments dealing with our first year and to celebrate Bella's strength and courage. Once again it reminds of of how much support we have and all the great people in our lives. Thanks for everything that everyone has done over the past year. Thanks to all the new friends we've made and to all of the old friends who came out of nowhere to support us. We had a great time celebrating with cupcakes and ice cream and punch. A great menu for the diabetic kid, but she loved it and like always we checked and counted and poked and prodded and had a great time. Here's to many more years of kicking T1D's butt!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

4th Annual Thrash for Cash Skate Contest

This Saturday June 1st we will have a table set up at the Backdoor Skatepark for their 4th Annual Thrash for Cash Contest. Backdoor is at 108 River Bluff Rd, Greenville, North Carolina 27858. 

The Contest starts at 11:00, I would guess we'll be set up around 10:00 AM and we'll stay as long as Buttons & Bella can. We will have information on Type-1 Diabetes and Service Dogs. We'll also have wristbands and T-shirts for sale and we'll also have a special raffle for the contest. We will be Raffling an *Almost Lewis Marnell Skateboard deck. Tickets will be $3 for 1 and $5 for 2 chances. Thanks so much to Billy at Backdoor Skatepark for inviting us and supporting Bella & Buttons

Here's more about Marnell from the Redbull website:

Time will answer our questions about what happened to Lewis Marnell, but it's going to take a little longer to figure out what exactly the skate world lost when this Swedish-Aussie Rastafari died suddenly last week at age 30.No friends or family have spoken to press and the cause of death is still unofficial, though since a short ESPN post claimed that Marnell died of "reported complications related to diabetes," many others have gone with the story.
Early this week an email from the Marnell family was forwarded to explaining that the cause of death was "a massive hypoglycemic reaction which did not respond to ingested glucose." Our deepest condolences go out to Lewis' family and close friends.
Type 1 diabetes was at the center of discussion on skate sites and Facebook, as Marnell was diagnosed when he was 10 and needed insulin shots and gummy sour watermelon candies at the ready every day of his life.
No matter what happened, a light has gone out in skateboarding. Marnell's talent was the rare type that's immediately evident in a few seconds of video or even a photograph. A naturalism developed only through thousands of hours practice and countless falls over hard, uneven, paved ground -- Marnell's best surface.
Watch Marnell's body in flight, or even the shadow the flash sometimes leaves on a wall behind him. Like Brian Herman, or Almost brethren Sheckler or Daewon, Marnell had full control over his body, his board, and when and where the two would come back together so he could land with the rare and perfect "chock" sound of all four rolling wheels touching down at once.
And it's one thing to land 360 flips or switch heels like this, but it's a whole other thing to land them down big drops at high, Tom Knox-type speeds, and it's a whole OTHER thing to land them over sets of stairs or broken aprons of concrete in a gravelly parking lot. Marnell made it look not just easy, but natural.
He wore big pants tucked into the tongues of loose Nikes and dreads that nearly reached his waist, but his skating was hard, fast, and clean in the rare Willowish way that makes you either want to skate or to quit skating.
Marnell was born in Melbourne in 1982 and grew up in both Australia and Sweden. By age 12 he was ditching school to go skate, eventually dropping out of his Swedish high school to pursue skating in Australia full time. His dreadlocks appeared about a decade ago. He was sponsored by Menace Skateboards (later City Stars) and Axion Footwear before signing with Nike SB, Volcom, and Almost.
"You are a true inspiration and you will be missed," tweeted teammate Daewon Song. "Thank you for showing the world your amazing gifts, and thank you for being such a positive, kind, and giving friend to all."

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Our First Week With Buttons...

And what a week it's been.

I knew that Buttons would be a wonderful tool to help us take care of Bella. Nothing could've prepared me for the things I've seen this week.  This dog is a very special boy, I could tell after he had been here for 10 minutes when he squared up on Bella and put that foot in the middle of her chest to tell her there was something wrong. A high BG right after breakfast.

From there it was about 36 hours of intensive training with our trainer Phoebe. (Phoebe was so awesome that she deserves her own posting. But Bella bonded with her almost as quickly as she did with Buttons). Since Phoebe left us until early August, we have been working with Buttons nearly constantly. We've taken him out and about, walked him through just about every aisle in two different Wal*Marts, he's been to Bella's Endo appointment and to Sheetz several times. We've been focused on his obedience work but he's been a natural at alerting to Bella. He's gotten the paw alert down but still will stop and stare holes in Bella or simply get the hiccups if something is off. Of all the alerts he's given, and it's been a lot of them he seems to be 95%-98% accurate. We have a log and I'll go back and be more scientific about the numbers. Several times he has alerted and the numbers seem to be perfect, but we'll look and see she has enough insulin in her pump ready to be dispersed that she would be dangerously low in no time.

I've seen this dog make a complete stranger cry who witnessed Buttons alerting to a low. This dog has made me want to cry just seeing Bella's confidence with him. After her first night with Buttons I asked Bella how she slept and she replied "My dog protected me" very matter-of-factly.

It is still a long road, Buttons is a puppy and will challenge us I'm sure. But he has already proven to be exactly what we expected, it will still be a while before we can sleep through an entire night leaving it up to him but that day is coming. I slept through the 2AM alarm last night and woke up at 4:19 to a Black Lab paw to the head. I got up and checked a guy and Bella's BG was 88. Her low range starts at 89. Good Low Buttons...Keep them coming!

Hide and Seek in Lowes

Bella, Phoebe & Buttons!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Buttons day 3....

Before I go into our Day #3 adventures, I'd like to once again thank everyone who has supported us and donated to help us get Buttons. The things I've seen this dog do in the past two days have been made possible by all of you. We still have about 1/3 of the money left to raise to finish his training but we are so very grateful to each and everyone of you that has supported us so far and in the future.

Sunday's training was again intense and tiring. We started out with a trip to Lowe's to see the dogs in a noisy environment with lots and lots of distractions and once again they did great.

Buttons alerted to a low in lowe's. What a good boy. Among all the distractions at lowe's slamming toilet seats are a good one. We also played hide and seek, so that Buttons will be able to find his girl if he needs to. 

We then went to lunch at Arby's...

The day wrapped up with a trip to the playground. Buttons went up all of the equipment and even went down the slide twice just to stay by his girl. All this and he still very accurately alerted to lows at the playground while bella was playing hard.

Buttons worked on an awesome command today, "place". The blanket is an invisible crate. He stays on it, thinking it has walls. 
 Before bed Buttons alerted low again. We checked and Bella was 138 which is in range but she had over a unit of insulin onboard her pump which can drop her 100 points. Good low Buttons, and Good Night! Another tough day at his new job!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Buttons day #2

Another tough day of training for us. Started off with Button's well puppy visit with the vet. He got a couple of vaccines but everything checked out with him. 
Then it wAs off to petsmart for some more buttons supplies. Then we walked through the dollar tree. First terribly rude people experience. A lady got upset because we were working and didn't stop to indulge her. For lunch we met Bella's 'betes' sister and her diabetic alert dog, Hope. 

When lunch was over we took the army of DADs to the mall. Everyone did really well. Back home we reviewed our obedience work and added some new commands as well. 

So far wonderdog buttons has been great at alerting to highs, we haven't had any lows yet but I'm sure he can catch those as well. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

It's Buttons Day!

What a great day today was! Buttons came at 9:00 am today. He immediately went to Bella as if he knew why he was here. Within 10 minutes of getting out of the car he began pawing Bella. We thought it was a cute way of him saying "hi". Until the trainer let us know that pawing is an alert and sure enough Bella's BG was close to 300. Nearly 100 points out of range. Mind Blown!

From there we got to know Buttons and did some basic obedience with him. Then we went to do some work in the public. We went and walked through Target and TJ Maxx. Buttons did great, Mom and Dad did okay. Buttons has a "shop" command, more on that later. After that back home for a rest and obedience work with Mason, Bella and Buttons. Buttons learned how not to eat Bella's crackers if they drop on the floor.We're all worn slam out as they say, but a great day overall. Buttons has a well puppy check tomorrow with the vet and then more training. Bella has been having high BGs all day and Buttons has caught most of them with a paw or a nudge. He's an amazing dog already. This will be lots of work but it will be worth it. Thanks again to everyone who's helped us get this far.