Commonwealth Journal

Features

February 26, 2013

Dog for diabetic child could be a lifesaver

Somerset —  

It’s said that the dog is man’s best friend.
But what about a little girl like Haylee Whitis? For her, a dog might be more than just a friend — it might just help save her life.
Eight-year-old Haylee has Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes. Commonly found in children and younger adults, the condition renders the body unable to produce insulin, a hormone the body needs to convert food into energy, moving glucose into one’s cells. Lack of insulin causes glucose to stay in the blood, which can cause damage to the body and organs. Type 1 diabetes causes one’s immune system to attack the insulin-producing beta cells.
A lot of complicated terms to describe one very simple result: a mother’s fear.
Dana Whitis, Haylee’s mother, told the Commonwealth Journal that Haylee has twice experience seizures in the middle of the night due to low blood sugar. It wasn’t something her family was expecting — but it became all too real, all too quickly.
“It was a shock to us,” said Dana. “The first time it happened, we didn’t know what was going on. We had to rush her to the emergency room.
“Her eyes were going back in her head as I held her on the way there,” added Dana. “I really thought we were losing her.”
It’s not something a mother forgets. Dana admits she doesn’t sleep much at night anymore, keeping vigilant attention on her daughter’s condition.
“I set the alarm every night at 2 a.m. to check Haylee’s blood sugar,” said Dana. “Since she had the seizures I’ve been up and down in the middle of the night. She takes five insulin shots a day.”
Haylee was first diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when she was 4, in April of 2009.

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