Diabetes is a condition that requires careful and serious management. It is even more challenging and frightening when a child has diabetes. Parents have to watch their child suffer through numerous pokes, prods and worst of all health scares. They are in a constant state of worry about their child’s blood sugar. Any changes in blood sugar have to be monitored carefully as they could quickly escalate into an emergency situation.
With this in mind, Nutall’s parents made the choice to get their son a diabetic alert dog when he was barely 2 years old. His condition required them to be extra vigilant because he was so young and there was no way he could understand when his blood sugar was too low. He needed help to do this and they, therefore, got him an alert dog. They named the new dog, Jedi. The dog was to help in monitoring Nutall’s blood sugar. Jedi was to alert them when the blood sugar was too high or too low. This would help manage their young son’s condition.
When Luke Nutall was only two years old he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. This meant that his pancreas had stopped the natural production of insulin. From then on he would require round the clock monitoring of his blood sugar. The diagnosis crushed his parent’s hearts. They knew the future would not be the same for their little son. But they were determined to give him the best care they could afford.
They then enlisted the help of the adorable diabetic dog, Jedi to help manage their son’s situation. They received donations from their friends and family members to ensure that Jedi would get home to their little boy. The Nutall’s watched a strong bond of friendship form between Luke and the alert dog. The dog became their son’s new best friend. They watched as Jedi followed Luke closely wherever he went. It was clear that the cuddly chocolate lab knew his job and took it seriously. Luke’s parents were glad that it was working out well and Luke clearly adored Jedi.
Unfortunately, things took a drastic turn one night. Luke and his parents were deep asleep when Jedi began to bark like crazy. Something wrong was happening. And it involved Luke’s life. His mother relayed the events of that berserk night, through a picture, on the duo’s popular Facebook page: Saving Luke. It was followed by a lengthy post but it was definitely worth reading as it conveyed a very important message.
She wrote that what looked like a dog, a sleeping baby and a number on a screen was so much more than it appeared. A picture that could simply be taken for granted had captured a life-saving moment. It showed Jedi saving Luke’s life. It was not just from high and low moments; Jedi saved Luke from ever feeling alone and scared.
Luke’s mother wrote that just before she took the picture the entire family was deep in slumber. It was quiet in the house. There was no sound of alarms going off and no one was checking blood. None of them was thinking of diabetes. Everything was calm and the family was not only relaxed but they let their guard down. They were just living life. Their minds were far from diabetes. But it is in moments like those that things take a scary turn so fast that you hardly know how to manage. At that moment, Luke’s parents were grateful to have Jedi in their home. That dog helped save their little boy’s life.
According to the Facebook post, the alert dog was frantic. He was jumping on to the bed, then back and on repeatedly. Luke’s mother was aware of this but did not rush to wake up. But the dog kept at it. On seeing that no one was waking up, Jedi laid on Luke’s mother. She woke up immediately. Jedi jumped off the bed then got halfway on and stayed there. He refused to move even when she urged him to get back up on the bed. She knew she had to check on Luke as the dog was clearly trying to bring something to her attention. She noted his frantic behavior and got up to go examine on her son.
Luke’s CGM said he was 100 steady. She tried to calm the dog by telling him that they would wait and see. But Jedi bowed again – which was his low alert. When she told him to get up on to the bed, the dog remained still. Jedi refused to move. That’s when she knew something was definitely wrong. By holding his ground, Jedi meant business. Her drowsiness began to wear off and her mind cleared up. She had to find out what was making Jedi give the low alert. She had to confirm her son’s status immediately.
She was fully awake once she realized there was an issue. She decided to check Luke’s blood sugar at once. She pricked his finger and she got a result of 57. That was way too low and given that Jedi was giving the low alert, then the drop was happening very fast. Luke was recovering from a stomach and anything less than 70 was low.
Luke’s mother was scared by the realization that her son was sleeping just inches from her yet without Jedi she would not have known that he was dropping out of a safe range. The realization was quite sobering. That dog was the only help for her son who just next to her. If it wasn’t for Jedi they would have had a dangerous situation in their hands.
She explained that her son’s CGM should have caught up and alerted in the next 20 minutes or so and she had an alarm set for an hour from then to get up and check, but he would have been much lower. She couldn’t begin to imagine what would have happened then. Jedi’s early and timely alerts help them prevent such dangerous situations. Luke sleeps soundly and in 4.5 years has never woken up on his own for a low.
His parents are his safety net. He goes to bed oblivious to the fact that he relies 100% on them and Jedi to be safe throughout the night. They keep him safe by monitoring his blood sugar. They make sure that they check it overnight and they do this every single night. They have acquired everything necessary to do so. They have every tool, every monitor and have spent the better part of the last 3 years ensuring Jedi is well trained to alert on the highs and lows. This is crucial because type 1 diabetes is relentless and they need all the help they can get to ensure that their son is healthy. They cannot afford to take anything for granted or leave anything to chance. Their lives revolve around taking care of Luke and making sure he is safe. They are grateful for every day that passes and has much hope for their son’s future. That is why Jedi is such an important part of the family.
The picture that was shared showed Jedi rescuing their son from a potentially dangerous low. It captures Jedi’s abilities and his dedication to his job. The dog has love and is loyal to Luke. Diabetes is a disease that needs utmost attention and perseverance. Luke’s mother hopes the picture will become a reminder that they will not let diabetes win, that they will never stop fighting, and that there is no giving up on our children. Parents will do their best to give their children a normal a life as they can especially with loyal helpers such as Jedi.
Jedi definitely earned a snack that night and Luke’s mother was ever so glad to give him one. He had done a good job on alerting her on the low and she wanted to encourage him to keep doing so.
She snapped the picture after giving Luke a glucose tab to raise his blood sugar. She admits how alone she feels in that moment of waiting for her son’s glucose to come up. It can get lonely in a world that doesn’t understand all that somebody with Type 1 diabetes goes through on a daily basis. Even if one has done it a thousand times before and will probably do it a thousand times more, the feeling never changes. Many people don’t comprehend that moment and she wanted them to have a glimpse of it through the picture.
So she took a second to quickly take the picture so as to capture that moment and use the picture to encourage other parents in her situation. She shared her story to let the world know what her, and millions of others, go through every single day as they live with diabetes.
She and her family work hard to manage Luke’s condition. They are dedicated and diligent. But no matter how much they do, what most people do not understand is that they often see multiple lows and highs every single day.
It is not easy replicating the job of a pancreas. It is at times a daunting task that requires one to be always alert. It is difficult to live with the fact that Luke has had thousands of shots and finger pricks that started when he was just two and will never stop unless there is a cure.
Luke’s mother is calling for more awareness about a disease that most of the world doesn’t understand. Parents like her need to help show the world why they so desperately need a cure. Worse things could have happened that night. Without Jedi, Luke may have slipped into a diabetic coma or passed away. The Nuttall’s know they are lucky and blessed to have that alert dog in their home. Jedi is like a guardian angel looking over their son at all hours of the day! They are grateful for him every single day.
With Jedi by their side, the difficulty of managing Luke’s condition had been lessened.