A Service Dog for Dagny

                                 Dagny's Story

I was cleaning up after breakfast when my 4-year old daughter, Dagny, ran up to me with her colorful-sparkly-fruit purse she had lost three months ago.

     "Mamma, look I found my purse from vacation," Dagny said. "And my squished penny with the butterfly on it from the zoo."

     I probably muttered something about how nice that was. A million other things were on my mind at that moment: Was it time to order Dagny's prescriptions? What are her numbers right now? Do I have stuff to make lunch? All thoughts that were new to me now, or much more important, now that Dagny had Type 1 Diabetes.

     "Mamma, can we look at pictures from Arizona?" Dagny asked.

     I stopped at once and put her on my knee. I took out my phone and scrolled through the pictures of our day at the Phoenix Zoo.  I didn't think about the dirty dishes piled on the counter. Didn't think about the wet laundry sitting in the washer. Didn't think about prescriptions or needles or continuous glucose monitors. This moment was Dagny and pictures and my little girl sitting on my lap for one priceless moment.

"Mamma," she said, with huge tears welling in her eyes, "do you know that I like to be the same? I want to be the same!"

     She paused. Why did she pause? what was she thinking? What did she mean by SAME? And I waited, slowly dying piece by peice, waiting for her to explain, trying not to cry, trying to think of a million answers all at once to show her light when things seemed very dark.

     "Do you know WHY I am different?" she finally said. " I have Type 1 Diabetes."

     I broke. Tears rushed out. And soon both of us, Dagny and I, were crying. Dagny crying because she knew that she was different than she used to be. Me crying because I couldn't take away her pain. I could do nothing to fix the problem. I could only treat a disease that may shorten her lifespan, make her blind, or take away her limbs. I could only try not to think about all Dagny had lost or all our crushed dreams. Right now she was my perfect Dagny, and she was in my arms, and we weren't going to be afraid of change, needles, or anything. We would find lost things. We would cherish squished pennies transformed into butterflies. We would fight, and fight for a cure, like a butterfly.... like butterflies breaking free of their cocoons and finding they had changed into something new and beautiful.

     Since Dagny's diagnosis on April 10th 2017, our lives have been a whirlwind of fear, success, roadblocks, and overwhelming support. It is heartbreaking as a parent looking into your daughter's big brown eyes and knowing that this a four-year-old trying to process having a disease for a lifetime. Her trying to make sense of getting finger pokes no less than five times a day, being injected with needles every single day.

     Our daughter, Dagny Lorraine, is thoughtful, energetic, compassionate, and downright hilarious. She was very active in her gymnastics and swimming before her diagnosis and I am happy to say that she continues these activities! Everywhere she goes people are drawn to her glowing spirit. In the last few months we are astounded by her bravery and adaptability. Our family has made many adaptations in the past few years.  Now, once again, we are adapting to manage and monitor Dagny's Type 1 Diabetes. As a whole family, along with a tremendous support group, we are working through the tough times toghether!

     However, Dagny's initial diagnosis was follwed by another and then another. Unfortunately, she has another auto immune disease. Celiac Disease. Even more devestating, her doctors believe she is hypoglycemic unaware. This means that she, physiologically, is unable to feel her low blood glucose levels. She also does not display any outward symptoms that we can observe. We are told this is a lifelong condition of her diabtes, not something that she will grow out of.

     Along with her doctors, we have developed a care plan for her that includes a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) which gives us a reading of her blood glucose every five minutes. The advancements in diabetes technology is very exciting and fortunately we have an endocrinologist that is supportive of these advancements. What technology connot provide, however, is a Diabetic Alert Dog's natural ability to smell her low and high blood glucose levels. The service these Diabetic Alert Dogs provide is phenomenal, and the companionship is unmeasurable. She would have a built in best friend, one to comfort her and experience life with...the good and the bad.

Our family has partnered up with Southern Diabetic Retrievers because, quite simply, we could never afford a diabetic alert dog for our daughter.  Not being able to provide this on our own we have decided to humbly ask for help. Dagny has been through so much and the reality is that she will continue to face obstacles. She is a warrior and I know, no matter what, she will always fight.
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Joseph McDonough 
Red Wing, MN
Southern Diabetic Retrievers (Southern Diabetic Retrievers) 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.
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