Paws for Lili

My mom wrote this in our walk letter five years ago:

Spring Break at Disneyland, March 2013

I knew something was wrong, the moment I heard the gurgling, gagging, grasping for breath sounds while she lay beside me in bed. We had just spent the entire day at Disneyland, and her numbers were out of control from the adrenaline rush caused by the excitement of all the rides.  It was supposed to be a magical day for the whole family, but it quickly turned into the worst day of our lives.

We had arrived back at our hotel very late, around 1:00 AM after a fun-filled day at the “Happiest Place on Earth.”  I had given Lili a correction for her high numbers, but she was low by bedtime.  I gave her a juice box and told her to go to sleep and that I would check her in fifteen minutes. I set my alarm to ring in fifteen minutes and closed my eyes, even though I’m used to staying up until 2:00 AM. With the time change my body still felt like it was 3:00 AM, and walking all day in the hot California sun with six kids didn’t help. Within minutes, Lili started seizing. It was the first seizure she had ever had since being diagnosed in 2010, and to be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on.  I leaped out of bed and grabbed her into my arms. She had that glassy-eyed stare I’d read about so many times, and then she started screaming at the top of her lungs in long, consistent drones, as if to the beat of a drum. It seemed to go on forever. I hugged her tight until the screaming stopped. Her blood sugar was 32.  After a few minutes, she finally came out of it and was able to eat some glucose tabs. She didn’t remember a thing. I never thought I’d think to myself, “Thank God she had a seizure—if she hadn’t, she’d be in a coma.”

Now after 8 years of living with diabetes, I have finally decided to apply for a diabetes alert dog. Our trip to the Friends for Life--Children with Diabetes Conference and learning more about diabetes alert dogs reinforced my desire for more insurance in my diabetes care before I head off to college. Because I have hypo-unawareness, I have only woken up on my own to my low blood sugars twice since I've had type 1 diabetes. That's why my mom and dad check me so often during the night, often every 2-3 hours. Dangerous lows for long periods of time can lead to seizures, coma and possibly death. My hope is that with the help of a diabetes alert dog, I will be able to go places on my own more confidently and that my parents will worry less when I leave for college.

It will be an 18-24 month waiting process, so we are hopeful that I'll be fully prepared to bring my alert dog to college after a couple of years with her at the high school.

I'd like to thank my coach, Dan Mitchell and my school nurse, Sheryl Henry for writing reference letters for me for my application for my alert dog. I am so lucky to have good health insurance, wonderful healthcare providers and a school district that understands my special needs. I wish all type 1 diabetics were as lucky. For now, for me, until there's a cure, there's a dog! Thanks for your support!

Here is a link to "My T1D Journey"
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Lori Lee Roden
City of Middleton, WI

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