Raven is an amazing night alerter. What exactly does that mean? That means that after a full day of excitement in a house with 2 children, 3 dogs, type 1 diabetes, a running partner, and all that goes along with that, she is still capable of picking up diabetic scent after all the lights are turned off, the house has gotten quiet, and we have all gone to bed.
What that doesn’t mean is that when Raven picks up a scent and alerts, that she does so ninja style so as to not wake any of us up, runs into my daughters room, fumbles with the meter, tests her blood sugar, and reacts accordingly to either lower a high BS or raise a low BS. Nope. What that means is that she gets up, spins around on her Kuranda raising a ruckus, shakes, puts her paws up on the bed, nudges me, and if I still don’t get up she starts to whine. It is the most effective alarm ever. And then I get up and I get to go “ninja style” trying not to wake anyone else in the house up.
Something else this doesn’t mean, is it doesn’t mean that we no longer set alarms during the night. My wife still sets her alarm. On most nights we head to bed at 10. We check Stella at that time, and if all is good, my wife sets an alarm for 12 and 2:30. We are up between 5-5:30 to check again. WE DO THIS EVERY NIGHT. On a rough night, where we are battling lows, or like a night we had a few nights ago when we were battling a bad site and some awful highs, we are up much more than that. By both alarm clocks and Raven alerts. Why? Because we feel it is important to rectify these BS issues ASAP. Even at 2am, when we are exhausted. It makes for a better quality of life. And when you have a history exam or big math test the next day, waking up at 300 can be a miserable experience,
Some diabetics can feel their highs and lows. Some diabetics will wake up and are capable of taking care of the issue themselves. Our daughter is not. 40 or 400, she normally can’t tell. She certainly doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night. So for us, our over night regimen stays the same. Set the alarms, hope to wake up and not turn them off, check Stella, fix what needs fixing, and stumble back to bed.
Did you notice what wasn’t part of our overnight routine? Relying on Raven. Why? Because Raven isn’t responsible for our daughters health. Yes, she and Major are an integral part of our diabetes management, but we (my wife and I) are the important parts. We can still function without a DAD. We can still make decisions. We are the most important part (for today. Someday, SHE will be the most important piece). Major and Raven are redundant systems. Back ups. Amazingly fun, furry, alarm systems.
Why is this important? Because of nights like last night. You see, with all this overnight checking, and the long diabetic night we had the night before, we were exhausted. It seems like EVERYDAY we are exhausted. So after doing the 10pm bedtime check, we went to sleep. Raven woke me up at 1:17. We went to go check on Stella. We keep a log book by her bed so that my wife and I can easily see if one of us has done anything during the night, in an effort to prevent giving to much insulin, or just to get a feel of how the night is going. Normally there is a midnight notation, but I noticed it was just the 10pm entry. I checked Stella, she was 220. Way to go Raven! Good high!
Why is this important? We were so tired that when we went to bed, we forgot to set our alarms. But we have a redundant backup system. Raven came through and alerted to a high. Why is this important? Because if my wife and I slept through the night, we could have woken up to a miserable 300 or even worse. The morning could have been spent battling a miserable high, with the possible decision of missing school. Instead, when we tested at 5:30, she was a much better 154. Thank you Raven! Way to keep an eye on your girl! Because of Raven, our morning routine was unaltered.
Please know that there are a lot of us that have DAD’s. But those DAD’s DO NOT take the place of a person making decisions based on the data presented to them. Those DAD’s are merely providing another piece of data. In most cases, the data we get from these dogs is quicker than what the electronic devices or physical signs would indicate, which is why these dogs are so amazing and become so important to our diabetes management. But please don’t think that our diabetes care is any easier, any simpler, or that we have a medical staff surrounding us 24-7. That just isn’t the case. If anything, living with these dogs makes day to day “non-diabetic” related life more difficult. More preparation goes into our day. More thought is given to even the most basic tasks of things like grocery shopping or going to the movies. There is more work involved with training, maintenance, exercise, and care. There is an associated expense on top of the extraordinary cost of diabetic related medicine and tools. These dogs aren’t easy. As a matter of fact, even if you think you are pretty dog savvy, these dogs are a lot more work than even the most well behaved pet. They aren’t for everybody, and not every family is capable of having and maintaining one. But it is also a very rewarding experience. And our family wouldn’t have it any other way.
We love and cherish our DAD’s. We work hard for them, and they work hard for us. They both are amazing in their own right, but together they provide us with 24/7/365 coverage. And for that I am thankful.