Small World

We took the family to Disneyland to celebrate my son’s 8th birthday. We also took our service dog Raven with us. We had a fantastic day, and Raven was amazing. Stella did the handling all day and Raven earned her keep with several low alerts. (The excitement of the amusement park tends to burn off blood sugar)

Based on a compliment we received from another SD handler and just how crowded it was yesterday, I realized I have never discussed how important it is or what is meant by protecting your service dog while out in public.

For public access work, distractions, obedience, and crowd control work, I can’t imagine there is any place more challenging¬†than Disneyland on a gorgeous Southern California Saturday. The park was jammed full of guests making it hard enough to traverse the park with kids, let alone a teenager handling a dog.

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20141012-IMG_7637-3With the exception of 1 parent, everyone in this image is a type 1 diabetic. Look at all of them. They are happy. Smiling. Holding cute, amazing dogs. They were all gathered together for the Canine Hope For Diabetics 2014 Diabetic Alert Dog Conference at a gorgeous location in the Southern California woods. Perfect weather, lots of friends, dogs, great conversation, activities for the kids and the dogs, training sessions for the dog handlers, discussion groups about diabetes, diabetes technology, animal care and training, it was an amazing weekend. And I captured it all with my camera. So what’s not to love?

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1920563_889170107777889_8138000872323637805_nToday was one of those days. A “perfect storm” in the diabetic world. And I blogged nervously through the whole thing on our Facebook page. I feel the need to put it all in one place, and explain a little more what is happening as we go through the day. The image above was our starting point. We use a technology which enables us to remotely watch the data generated from my daughters Dexcom. For more info on this, click “CGM in the Cloud”.

Our daughter uses an Animas pump to provide her insulin delivery. And the insulin we use is Humalog. For us (different people have different results) we find that we only get 2-2.5 days of use out of the Humalog during the summer before we require a site change. The heat causes the Humalog to lose it’s effectivity. Today was day 3. Why? Because she had great numbers last night, and woke up at a nice 139. We thought we would be okay. After breakfast, Stella started to climb. And climb. And climb. We waited a reasonable amount of time to see if she would come back down. She didn’t.

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Back CameraThere is one question I get asked more than any other, most often by families with a newly diagnosed child. “Does it get easier?”. While I like to remain positive, I also like to be as honest as possible. Here is my answer: It doesn’t get easier. you get better. Let me explain

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July 30th, 2010. A day I will never forget. It was a Friday, and I was preparing for a week of vacation to spend time with the family before they had to go back to school. Yes, 7/30/10 was the start of my vacation. I no sooner turned on my out of office notification when my wife told me we had to get Stella to the hospital.

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10496961_851824471512453_4865614828018179791_oRaven is our rock star night alerting dog. On most nights she wakes me up at least once to alert to an out of range blood sugar, and generally it will be a high. But last night was a little different. More »

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My girls. I look at this image, and at first it is sad to me. I see and focus on the bringsel on her hip, the alerting tool that a dog will grab when her blood sugar is out of range. I see a CGM on a pouch on her hip. And I see a backpack, with another CGM receiver connected to a cell phone that relays her BS levels to me, with lifesaving tools like a bottle of Gatorade, glucose tabs, and a glucagon needle, her blood sugar meter, and a myriad list of other things for her diabetes. I can’t see it here in this image, but I know that on her left side is a pump that has a tube that is inserted into her abdomen, that provides her with life sustaining insulin.
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This is what most of the media would have you believe diabetes looks like:

tats27

And that is a shame. It is an awful stereotype that many of us work hard to combat. Every. Single. Day.

I have had the honor of photographing many diabetics since my daughters diagnosis almost 4 years ago. And I’d like you to see what diabetes looks like to me.

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