What is Type 1 Diabetes? The more severe form of diabetes is type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes. It’s sometimes called “juvenile” diabetes because type 1 usually develops in children and teenagers, though it can develop at any age. The body’s immune system attacks part of its own pancreas. The immune system mistakenly sees the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as foreign, and destroys them. This attack is known as “autoimmune” disease. These cells- called “islets” are the ones that sense glucose in the blood and, in response, produce the necessary amount of insulin to normalize blood sugars. Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells to allow you to use the glucose for energy. Without insulin, there is no “key” so the sugar stays and builds up in the blood. The result, the body’s cell starve from lack of glucose. If left untreated, it can damage eyes, kidneys, nerves and the heart, and can also lead to coma and death.
Having a blood sugar that is too high or too low is life threatening and could make Nevaeh really sick, causing unconsciousness, seizures and coma. Nevaeh's glucose levels have proved difficult to manage, with unpredictable highs and lows, which has made this situation very frightening for us all.
Not only do we have to check Nevaeh's blood sugar throughout the day, but it has to be checked throughout the night as well, because of a syndrome called “Dead in Bed Syndrome”. This happens when a diabetic’s blood sugar dips so dangerously low overnight that a person cannot recover. This is our worst fear. Some nights I don’t sleep, worrying about her blood sugar dropping. Some children and adults can feel when their blood sugar is getting low or high, Nevaeh does not. During the day someone is usually always able to watch her, but night is when it is especially scary as we aren’t awake to watch her!
Type 1 Diabetes is something she will have to live with every minute of every day, for the rest of her life, and it will affect everything she does, including: hanging with friends, sports, concentration in school, driving (when that time comes), eating, sleeping and even things as simple as just going for a walk or reading a book, as there is no cure!
Nevaeh has made huge strides in adapting to her disease. I have seen her show so much strength and she is not letting this disease consume her. She is taking charge! Because of the active lifestyle she leads, and the possibility of dangerous lows at night and just a sense of security, we have decided to do all we can to get Nevaeh a Diabetic Alert Dog, DAD. This dog will be her constant companion to help her physically and emotionally, and keep her safe. DAD’s are trained to detect the chemical change produced when blood sugar begins to become too high or low (often up to 40 minutes before a blood sugar monitor can detect it). The dog will then alert whether Nevaeh's levels are high or low, and even retrieve her necessary supplies in the event she is alone. This is important because when blood sugar drops really low, it causes a person to become immobile, and not able to get their own life saving supplies. A DAD is trained to alert through the night as well. I can’t even begin express the fear I feel when I’m so exhausted that I sleep through an alarm and wake up in a panic, praying that when I get to her room she is ok. Having the DAD will allow Nevaeh some independence to just be a kid, without hovering parents, and gain her confidence back. It will also give us piece of mind and rest. Also, the DAD will help her to continue playing soccer without having to continually leave the field to be monitored.
We have already found a dog that is in the process of being trained. These dogs are very expensive due to the extensive training they have to go through, and this is why we are trying to raise the funds for this life saving companion for Nevaeh. With the enormous cost of her monthly prescriptions, medical supplies and doctor bills, it has made it really hard to make ends meet. Words could never express what this would mean to our family. No amount is too small. We greatly thank you in advance for any help you can offer, whether it be financial or helping to share her story! Thank you!
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