Diabetic Alert Dog for Garik

My name is Tanya.  Three years ago, at the age of 8, my son Garik  was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.   He has struggled since that time with control of his blood sugar.  His numbers can range from 50-500 within a few hours.   As a single mom, working two jobs just to take care of her family, I worry every moment of the day and night for my son's life.

For Garik, this diagnosis has taken so much away from him.  He struggles during school, at home, with friends as his blood sugars bounce all over the place.  He can no longer live in the moment, like all kids should.  Every event, every decision, and every activity must be closely planned and monitored in order to keep him safe and healthy. 

So, why are we fundraising for a diabetic alert dog?
There is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes, no answer as to why Garik has Type 1 Diabetes, why his blood sugar spikes high, or drops dangerously low randomly.  A diabetic alert dog will alert us when Garik's blood sugar is above or below a "good range" in order to avoid dangerous situations.  The morning of Dec. 29, 2018 pushed me to start getting serious about the diabetic alert dog.  I walked into the living room to find Garik pale as a ghost, breathing heavily, shaking, barely responsive.  He actually asked me to call 911.  While waiting for paramedics, I checked his blood sugar...he was over 500 (his meter stops at 500).  He has been that high before, but never had the reaction he was having now.  A trip to the ER confirmed he was in DKA - diabetic ketoacidosis and the Flu and was quickly deteriorating.  Garik spend almost 36 hours in the PICU being carefully treated and monitored.  It was nerve-wracking watching my son lay there and knowing how quickly he went from perfectly fine to DKA.  If we had a diabetic alert dog, the dog would have been able to alert us BEFORE this happened.
How does the dog work?
A diabetic alert dog uses its sense of smell to detect when the blood sugar is going "out of range".  The chemicals in our bodies are full of different scents, and when your blood sugar is rising or lowering, a specific chemical is released and the diabetic alert dog senses it and then does its job and alerts.  A diabetic alert dog can do several things to alert, but will typically paw or bark until you take appropriate action and correct the issue.

Why is the dog so expensive?
From the time they can leave their mothers, puppies spend every single day and night with a trainer.  Training Diabetic Alert Dogs is incredibly labor intensive and time consuming.  While it doesn’t look like work when you see a service dog in training out in public, those trainers are constantly socializing, teaching, creating work opportunities, caring for, and exercising dogs.  It’s a job that doesn’t end when the clock strikes 5:00!  The dogs are working, in various stages of development, around the clock- 24/7, until they are delivered to their new home. 

Our new everyday life:
Garik pokes his finger up to 10 times a day to check his blood sugar...that is over 10,000 finger pokes since diagnosis.  He checks his blood sugar when he wakes up, before bed, before every meal, and I have to check in the middle of the night.  I have to check him if his behavior is out of the oridinary, and if he is about to exercise or be active.  We also have to recheck his blood sugar anytime it is low, meaning below 80.  If his blood sugar is low, we re-check every 15 minutes or until after he is at or above 80.  Garik has had over 500 insulin injections.  Garik receives insulin anytime he has a normal or above normal blood sugar and is going to eat.  He can also get an insulin shot anytime his blood sugar is high and has been past a certain amount of time since his last injection.

What is a normal range for Garik? What is a normal range for a non-diabetic?
Garik's blood sugar target is 130.  A "normal range" for him is 80-200. At bedtime Garik has to be 150 or above.  Anytime he falls short of these ranges he has to eat a fast carb, that means waking him up in the middle of the night to eat candy- which most people would think is AWESOME, but it really isn't. It means Garik crying, not wanting to eat, just wanting to sleep.  A normal blood sugar for a non-diabetic ranges from 80-120.

Why does Garik have Type 1 Diabetes?
There is no answer! It was nothing that we did.  He didn't eat too much candy, he isn't an unhealthy kid, it's not contagious, he can still eat whatever he wants. It just means he'll have an insulin shot to cover the carbs. There is no family history; there is simply no answer as to why. He can still do anything else that someone without type 1 diabetes can do- other than ARMY, or being a commercial pilot. 

We can't thank you enough for taking the time to read our story, Garik's story.  It would mean the world to us if you would share his story.  If you can donate, we can't tell you how much it would mean to us!  Any amount helps.  If all you can do is share, please do, that still would mean the world to us!  By donating, sharing, and spreading the word we know we will be able to reach our goal.   I just want to see my son feel safe, unafraid of the effects of the disease, or the stigma that goes with it. So, I am here, asking for any help you might be able to offer to a boy with big dreams, and a big obstacle. Can you help him realize those dreams?

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Tanya & Garik Steinback

Donations (0)

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Tanya Steinback 
Fairview, TN
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