The Proof is in the Lab Work

I haven’t written a post in what seems like forever.  I will be totally honest, it’s because things just haven’t been good, but are looking up (fingers crossed).  I will only give a brief summary of the events that led up to this post as I am just not ready to confront the issue totally (publicly) just yet.  I was informed that Judah was no longer welcome at my place of employment.  This stems from him having a less than favorable reaction to someone cornering him (while sleeping) up against a building while they were wrapped in a hose (from head to toe).  He didn’t bite, lunge, or otherwise put anyone at risk, he did however bark and jump back trying to get around her.  Upon me saying, “Judah no, down.” His belly hit the ground and I took his leash and led him out of the tight space he had been backed into.  I am a behaviorist and don’t expect all people to see what I see when it comes to dogs so I can see how this reaction by Judah may have caused concern but the outcome was simply devastating to both Judah and me.  After this took place I took Judah home and wrapped him in a garden hose and did a multitude of desensitizing exercises.  My employers took this opportunity to express ‘concerns’ about his level of training and my ‘claim that he is a service dog’.  I was both surprised and hurt by the outcome of this event.  A place that I have worked at (grown up at) since I was a young child, that I thought cared about my well being and health took the opportunity to shank me.  Sorry, but no one thought to discuss with me any alternative to banning my dog from the property.  In a later post I will explain further the situation at work and the things I did and what more I could have done.  I will also explain in more depth the circumstances that led to Judah’s reaction (100% a product of the situation, a product of people NOT respecting his status or our partnership).

Judah goes on visitations to schools, hospitals and wellness fairs.  He has been buried under a crowd of 15 squealing kindergartners with nothing but love and trust coming out of him.  He is a good boy and is no more likely of causing harm to someone than any dog (service dog or not).  Sure, he is trained to not react to most stimulus in any given situation but he is after all a dog.  They do make mistakes, and then when those mistakes are dealt with the dog has learned from the experience, as has the handler.  Judah showed no aggression, he did not put his hackles up, growl, show his teeth or make a move to stop this person from doing what they were doing.  He was startled and reacted how he thought he needed to in order to stay safe.  Was his reaction appropriate?  Of course not, he should have stayed down and waited for me to remove him from the situation.  He immediately responded to my verbal correction and had no issue from then on out.

Of course as with all things there is a lot more to this story and it hasn’t been pleasant for Judah or I.  After everything started to unravel at work I made the decision to remove Judah indefinitely from this particular working situation because he began to show serious signs of stress resembling PTSD in dogs (it really happens).  He stopped alerting, would hide from me as I got ready for work in the morning and actually was hiding his head whenever we drove past my place of employment.  To me the most important thing to deal with immediately was the health and wellness of my dog, I owe him that much.  

So I have been going to work without my lifeline and it has been a long, sick, tired, high, low, dehydrated kind of summer.  I have missed on average one work day a week all summer due to various diabetes complications.  I have ‘unawareness’.  Most of the time (more than 90% of the time mind you) I feel the same at 110 (perfect) as I do at 40 (SO bad) and 400 (SO bad).  I act normally until, WHAM- I can’t think, can barely walk and feel so sick all I want to do is sleep.  This is why Judah has been such a valuable partner for me.  He is the part of me that is missing, he is the rest of me.

As I said before there is a lot more to this story and errors were made on both sides (them and I).  I will certainly follow up on this further when I am ready to tackle it as an educational post on workplace accommodations and all that.  My goal is to use it as a teaching exercise and NOT make it a personal issue that I express on my blog (at least I will try).  I think it is an issue that is bigger than just the dog- but we will get to that some day.

The point of this post is to give some hard numbers involving the impact Judah has on my care.

Before our partnership was put in turmoil I RARELY ever had a reading below 70 because Judah was catching my lows before they were dangerous.  This summer I averaged 4 lows BELOW 70 A DAY.  Anyone who deals with diabetes knows that once you have a true LOW it’s a roller coaster for the next 24 hours or more, I have been doing that ALL SUMMER.  Not only that but there are days where I come home and Judah is going insane, I check and discover that in the last hour or so of work my glucose has shot up to over 300 and I don’t sleep all night fighting it back down just to go back to work and do it AGAIN.

I just returned from a recheck after using my pump for over three months.  Upon first receiving my pump my A1c was 7.1% and I was incredibly excited to watch it go down with the added control of the pump.  Not only did my A1c shoot up a percentage point  but this happened with a ridiculous number of low blood sugars (which really should give me a falsely low A1c).  Pump Doc and I had a pretty serious conversation about why my graphs and numbers were so terrible.  I explained my situation and told her that I just didn’t have a choice and NEEDED the job (just as my employers were aware that I had no other options).  Pump Doc. wanted me to leave the job immediately (I SO wish I could have) but there are only about 3 weeks left and I need the money so bad…  

SO we compromised and I went to work and informed my boss that I would no longer be able to work full days, no more mornings at all.  I told him that I couldn’t be separated from my dog for that long without causing serious complications.  Pump Doc. also informed me that it is time that I stop playing the tough girl.  “If it’s low, you treat the low and you SIT for 15 minutes.  End of discussion.  You don’t keep treading water, you don’t keep paddling, playing, or whatever else.  They need to see what is ACTUALLY going on.  Too bad if it is inconvenient for them.  This is YOUR LIFE they are playing with and I hate to say it but they won’t ever understand unless it happens to them.  Do you need me to go down there and do some educating?”  (I LOVE this Doc.)  I opted out of Pump Doc going down and giving them a piece of her mind, I am almost done and I don’t think it would change anything anyway.  It’s incredibly obvious that no one there cares about my well being so I will bow out as gracefully as possible at the end of the season and they will have to deal with losing someone who is EXCEPTIONAL at her job (don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I LOVE that job and I am EXCEPTIONAL at it).  

After going to work and telling my boss that I would no longer be able to work mornings he replied, “Well I think if you just stay out of the water and stay hooked up to your monitor you will be fine”.  Oh boy….

“It’s not a monitor, it’s a pump, it only does what I tell it to.  It is simply a delivery method so I don’t have to stab myself all the time.  AND staying hooked up to my pump isn’t the problem seeing as how my issue is lows and more insulin would make that worse.”

I wanted to hand him my time card and my keys and leave right then.  I hate being a victim of my situation and I can’t wait to be in a situation where I can tell them to shove it.  It’s almost over, I am almost done.  I already have some part time work lined up working in a friend’s horse barn and she knows how amazing and trustworthy Judah really is.  She knows he is the missing parts of me and she respects that, and really that’s all we need as a team- respect.

The reality of this situation is that Pump Doc. immediately knew from the numbers on the page in front of her that something wasn’t going well.  The proof was right there on the paper in front of her.  Not only has Judah gone back to alerting and doing his job as perfect as ever but he once again proved himself sitting in the office alerting to a low at 85 mg/dl while I was talking to Pump Doc.

Judah and I have managed to continue changing lives this summer despite being apart more than usual.  Including a young man I met at the river while working one day.  Judah wasn’t even there and we changed this young man’s life just the same, I will write all about it soon.  Needless to say it’s been a rough summer and now my only goal is to get well.  Regain control over my body, regain my health and confidence and get back out into the world trying to help.

We will be alright.  It doesn’t matter what happens we are a team and anyone who matters knows that.