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Soup supper will support cost of life-saving service dog

By Drew Wilder |

Published 11/11 2013 03:51PM

Updated 11/11 2013 05:16PM

SHELBYVILLE -- Veterans Day is a chance to say an extra "thank you" to service men and women who fought and made sacrifices for our country's freedom. A young veteran is adjusting to life back home with his family. Now, he's fighting an entirely new kind of war. WCIA-3's Drew Wilder has the story.

Life has a way of testing us; never letting us get too high or too low. Each of us is in a constant search for that perfect balance.

For this Operation Enduring Freedom veteran and his wife, finding the perfect balance may take a whole family effort. A family which began in a way only a military family could know.

"We found out I was pregnant with Adeline the day he deployed to Afghanistan."

"It was mind-rocking, just waking up every day, going to sleep was, 'man, I wonder what's going on at home.'"

"He came home for two weeks for his leave, so she was a month old and he got to meet her then."

"There's really no way to describe that feeling. I was, it was an awesome moment."

With Dad back home, the balance is restored. But, just as Dereck, Daphney and Adeline were experiencing one of life's highs, came a low.

"He was losing weight. He lost almost 30-pounds in three weeks, while drinking a case of soda a day, so that obviously said something to me that doesn't add up. That' doesn't work together and I walked up to him in the kitchen and sort of blindsided him and said, 'I think you have diabetes.'"

"I was in denial to be honest. I was like, 'there's no way. I'm 21-years old. This can't happen.'"

"And he was diagnosed with type one diabetes."

"Even after I was diagnosed, I was in a period of denial. 'This can't happen to me. This can't. There's no way they got this diagnosis right.'"

"I will forever go to bed hoping that I wake up and I still have my husband."

"It's just something that I had to come to grips with."

"Everything that we planned for our life, just went up in flames because he can't continue his service in the military with type one diabetes."

Dereck's duties overseas and in the service were over and his job in Afghanistan was an important one; training Afghani police officers.

"It was one of our main challenges that start roughing people up automatically, just making sure that they ask questions before frisking people and stuff like that."

Mid-interview, we are interrupted. The newest member of the family, 7-month old Dayrah, is telling Dereck that his blood sugar is dangerously low. We had to stop the interview to find out if this puppy is right.

Dayrah is a service dog which signals Dereck to check his blood sugar. Modern technology confirms what the puppy already knew. Dad needs help to find the balance.

"It's a huge weight off my shoulders because I can't tell from sitting next to him if he's feeling fine and not exhibiting any clinical signs of anything going on. Everybody assumes it's fine."

Dayrah is using her powerful sense of smell to detect small changes in Dereck's body scent. It wouldn't be noticeable to you or me, but this service dog can tell when his blood sugars are too high or too low, simply by the way he smells.

"And she allows him to fix that before I look over and he's passed out."

Five years into his diagnosis, Dereck is experiencing hypoglycemic unawareness. His body has trouble telling if his blood sugars are too high or too low.

If it drops dangerously low, and he can't physically get himself to a life-saving food or drink, Dayrah springs into action. The service dog rips open the refrigerator door, fetches a juice box and brings it to his side, saving him from a possible diabetic seizure or coma, potentially saving his life.

Dayrah is also learning how to press a button, and when she's fully trained, she'll be able to make an automated 911 call to order Dereck an ambulance if his blood sugar has dropped or risen into life-threatening territory.

"It's just really helped calm my nerves. I'm sure, with my wife, it's doing the exact same, especially at night. She does a great job at night, just making sure that if I start running low or I'm running way too high, she'll wake me up and then it's time to go check my blood sugar. It's time to get some insulin in me and something to eat before it gets out of hand."

It's a never-ending series of tests which could take a turn high or low at any moment, but life tests us like that; an endless search for that perfect balance.

The Bly family, along with others, is hosting a soup supper Monday night. They need help raising the remaining $16,000 they owe for Dayrah. Since November is Diabetes Awareness Month, the company which sold them the service dog will match any donation dollar-for-dollar.

Lion's Club Forest Park Shelbyville
Fundraiser & Raffle
Monday, November 11, 6:30 pm

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