By Brad Heineman
At the tender age of two, Blissfield toddler Brooks Seeburger, the son of 2002 and 2001 Blissfield High School graduates, Aaron and Ashley Seeburger, can be found running around his rural Blissfield home like any other tot. And like any normal two-year-old child, Brooks also plays with his two older sisters, five-year-old Laila and three-year-old Scarlett.
However, at just 10-months-old, when he was sick and taken to the hospital in March 2015, it was discovered that Brooks had Type 1 Diabetes, or also called juvenile diabetes.
For diabetics like Brooks, who have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, their bodies cannot produce insulin because the beta cells in the pancreas are damaged or destroyed. In order to receive that insulin, it must be administered via a pump or injection so to avoid conditions and complications of hypoglycemia, or high blood sugar.
Brooks’ Father, Aaron, said being diagnosed at such an early age was a shock to both he and his wife, Ashley.
“It’s such a rare condition for someone at such young of an age,” he said.
Brooks will celebrate his second birthday April 23.
When both Seeburger parents learned what it would take to monitor and control Brooks’ condition, they knew it would not be an easy task.
“He is doing well,” Seeburger said of Brooks. “But it is a 24-7 struggle and especially dangerous at his age.”
Within months of his diagnosis, Brooks has been on an insulin pump, which is attached to his forearm. He requires at least 15-20 blood-sugar finger-poke tests-per-day and he also has a Continuous Glucose Monitor, or CGM, transmitted in skin, which can be routed to an electronic device for a reading. The only downside to the CGM, according to Seeburger, is a general time delay of 15-20 minutes on receiving the reading. Since the CGM runs on a Wi-Fi connection or Bluetooth, any glitches in service, can slow down the readings.
“He’s just so young right now that it’s hard for him to communicate with us and for us to communicate back with him,” said Seeburger.
Seeburger said anytime during the night, Brooks’ blood sugar can fluctuate high or low and communication via the CGM could possibly be delayed or cutoff due to a connection issue with the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. For each hour of the night, the parents set an alarm and take turns checking on him, making sure his readings look correct and he is OK.
After much discussion within the family and extended family, Aaron and Ashley decided to get a diabetic alert dog to assist Brooks with his diabetes. Most properly trained alert dogs range anywhere from $15,000-$25,000.
According to Seeburger, the price of the dog is reflected in the canine’s rigorous 12-18 months of training and handling. Most diabetes alert dogs are trained for various types of blood sugar patients and they generally are trained to alert handlers, in Brooks’ case his parents, of the advancement of low- or high-blood-sugar events before they become dangerous.
The alert dog will also be with Brooks all night. When the dog senses a change in Brooks’ blood sugar, its training will send him to Aaron and Ashley alerting them of the blood sugar change.
A GoFundMe online campaign was launched by the Seeburgers to raise money for the cost of the alert dog. More detail about Brooks’ story, his daily life and information about the dogs can be found at www.gofundme.com/dogforbrooks.
The family has also set up a bank account at Blissfield State Bank named “Diabetic Alert Dog for Brooks” for anybody who wishes to make an anonymous donation.
For the complete story, please see the Feb. 24, 2016, edition of The Advance.