Seven-year-old type I diabetic in need of ‘alert dog’

Kyzr Emerson, 7-year-old grandson of Jeff Emerson is a type I diabetic. He is the son of Dylan and Brook Emerson. His family is trying to raise $18,500 to purchase a diabetic alert dog that can detect low blood sugar even before a continuous glucose monitoring system can alert the parents. This will help to avoid seizures and aid in long-term health by keeping blood sugars stable.

An alert dog is trained to not only alert to lows but help wake their handler up and get help if needed. The dog will work for about 10 years and will be extremely beneficial to Kyzr as he goes into his preteen and teen years. Kyzr is currently home-schooled. It will help provide some independence and freedom during those years that his parents would be nervous to give without this extra layer of protection. Kyzr has never complained or had a bad attitude about his diagnosis.

Unfortunately type 1 diabetes is tough, especially for a 7-year-old who just wants to do all the things every kid does. Because Kyzr does not make any of his own insulin, he requires seven-10 insulin injections daily and has to constantly be aware of his blood sugar. Low blood sugars can be extremely dangerous and put any diabetic at risk for seizures (especially overnight). Even with a continuous monitor on Kyzr it’s far from perfect technology and is about 20 minutes delayed in showing blood sugars and can vary about 20% from actual blood sugar. When he is asleep and his blood sugar drops, he does not respond to alarms and his parents have to physically shake him to wake him up (the dog will be trained to do this as he is growing up). This is the scariest part of type 1 diabetes, as it is a very real possibility that night-time lows end up in seizures or even Kyzr never waking up.

Kyzr Emerson. (Photo courtesy of.gofundme.com/f/diabetic-alert-dog-for-kyzr)

Kyzr’s diagnosis story: In February of 2022, his mother and dad noticed what they thought was a growth spurt in Kyzr. He was 6 years old at the time and eating like a grown man on steroids. They tried adding to the amount of protein he was eating but he was still hungry. Kyzr does ninja at a local gymnasium; he is pretty talented and extremely dedicated and self-motivated. When he told us that he could not do any flips, we started to worry a little but thought that he had been training too much and needed a break.

His mother began to suspect that he might need a diabetes test after reading an article about Covid causing diabetes in kids (we all had Covid about six weeks before). I called his doctor and asked for a diabetes test. She said his sugar was probably dropping (causing the shaky legs, mood swings and some other symptoms) that we should give him orange juice and bring him in the following day. So, his mom got some orange juice at the store and bought a scale. She noticed Kyzr’s collar bones were more noticeable than usual, and they thought he was thinning out from a growth spurt.

When her husband got home from work, they went to the store. Kyzr was insanely thirsty while at the store and also had to pee . . . quite a lot. He could not feel his ears and his mouth felt funny. That was soon followed by his vision going in and out with huge black spots. They left the store and began to really worry that this diabetes test could not wait until the following day. Her husband stopped at a Walgreens, and I bought all the stuff to do a blood sugar test at home. When Kyzr’s blood was tested it would not read on the meter. I rushed Kyzr to the ER and he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (no one in either of our families is type 1). His parents were told he was in diabetic ketoacidosis and was near a coma. Kyzr’s blood sugar was at 777 (a normal blood sugar is around 80 to 120). Kyzr had lost about 10 pounds and his body was in complete starvation mode even though he had been eating nonstop. In the blink of an eye his whole life changed. We are now eight months into our journey and learning more every day.

If you are interested in donating to help Kyzr’s parents purchase the dog described above, go to “Go Fund Me” – Diabetic Alert Dog.