Firstly I would like to introduce myself and my daughter, Leandre. She is a real optimist and always has a humorous response to negative comments. She is the light in my life.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit us in South Africa, I ran my own daycare. I am proud to say I was a successful businesswoman. I might not have made millions but I did what I loved working with children. Unfortunately with the pandemic lockdown, I lost everything.
Our lives changed on, 30 November 2020. My 15-year-old daughter was diagnosed with diabetes type 1. I nearly lost her, she was in ICU for a week and thereafter a few days in a normal ward. This was the most awful time.
Leandre had to deal with this life-changing diagnosis all by herself, as I was only allowed to see her 1 hour a day, with the covid regulations.
She is such a brave girl. She had a phobia of needles. Only our house doctor could inject her or draw blood from her when necessary. The amazing nurses taught her how to inject the insulin and only after a week my little hero did it herself.
Before the diabetes diagnosis, she suffered from severe anxiety. Due to her anxiety, I homeschool her.
After the initial shock wore off, reality set in. This has caused her anxiety to go through the roof. This has gotten to the point where we take turns to sleep. She sleep the first half of the night and I second. She has a serious fear of going into a coma and/or having a seizure while she sleeps.
This has been causing havoc on our lives. I try to keep things as normal as possible for her. I can see how the lack of sleep is negatively impacting her school work and general well-being
She is at the Red Cross Children Hospital for her diabetes treatment. The specialist there are fantastic, they are still struggling to get her sugar levels under control. In addition to their diabetes diagnosis, they diagnosed her with an underactive thyroid disorder. It feels like at every turn and corner it is just some new that's waiting to take another piece of our happiness.
Living with diabetes type 1 is challenging. You must check your blood glucose level a couple of times a day, to ensure your glucose level isn't too high or too low. It can be life-threatening if it goes too low. And the worst part is that it mostly happens at night.
We did research and found this amazing company "Honey Gardens in Cape Town" where they train medical dogs to assist people with diabetes and anxiety to help them lead normal lives. The dog will be trained to warn her before her glucose level starts to fall, and at night time to wake her up and warn her.
The cost is R50 000 ($3642.11) for the diabetic alert dogs. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, my current income just keeps us afloat. We had to move from Bloemfontein to Cape Town to ensure Leandre can be near the Red Cross Children Hospital for her treatment. We are not on any medical aid, as I cannot afford it.
I am pleading as a mom for assistance. Please help my little girl get a service dog. This will give her the independence she desperately desires. The dog will grow with her as she moves through all stages of her life, graduating from school, going to university, and into adulthood.
Her biggest wish is to lead a normal life. I truly believe this will give it to her. The service dog will be allowed to go with her everywhere. This will curve her anxiety as the dog will be trained to recognize when she is having an anxiety attack and help her to calm her down.
Diabetic Alert Dogs (DAD) are trained to alert diabetic handlers, in advance, of low or high blood sugar events, before a dangerous situation can occur. By using their incredible sense of smell, these dogs can sniff out any changes in their owner’s glucose level up to 30 minutes before a blood glucose monitor, giving the owner time to alter their artificial insulin level or sugar intake before symptoms occur.
Dogs have over 200 million sensors in their noses that can smell individual scents at 1 part per trillion. Rapid changes in blood sugar levels are expressed in a person’s breath and skin. Diabetic Alert Dogs are trained to associate this change in scent with a reward, and be persistent about receiving it! They have prevented thousands of glycaemic episodes across the world and changed the lives of children and adults everywhere.
Companion Animal Psychology UK has studied the psychological benefits of owning a DAD and found that owners experienced significantly fewer hypoglycemic episodes, reduced paramedic call-outs, improved independence, and even described having a DAD as “an enhanced quality of life”.
The psychological advantages of having a service dog are second to none. The alert itself becomes especially important for people that have developed hypoglycemic unawareness and aren’t able to recognize the changes on their own. People who sleep heavily and struggle to wake up to check glucose levels at night, often have trouble falling asleep at all, due to fear of missing an alarm. This decreases focus during the day at work or school. Parents of type 1 diabetic children also have sleepless nights of worry and have to constantly monitor their child. The added benefit of a Diabetic Alert Dog is that they can be trained for nighttime alerts.
Although they will never be a replacement for current protocols, checks made by a Diabetic Alert Dog can certainly be an extremely beneficial, added safety net. They can bring a sense of independence and comfort to anyone suffering from the disease, as well as being a long-term friend and companion. Living with a DAD can bring so much comfort to a busy household with a type 1 diabetic child; it is an added layer of protection for unpredictable changes in blood sugar that happen daily
Thank you so much for reading thus far. It means the world to my little family.
For every person who donates to my worthy cause I will give a Diabetic type 1 T-Shirt or give back by spending time with underprivileged children to say thank you.