Home' South Gippsland Sentinel-Times : July 11, 2017 Contents THE SOUTH GIPPSLAND SENTINEL-TIMES, TUESDAY, JULY 11, 2017 - PAGE 25
HYPO unawareness is used to de-
scribe a situation where people with
diabetes, usually type 1 diabetes, are
unable to notice when they have low
blood sugar levels, hypoglycemia.
Most people with diabetes are able
to recognise the symptoms of hypo-
glycemia, which include feeling weak,
sweaty, confusion and tingling in the
fingers or mouth. They’ll quickly rec-
tify the situation by eating some food
and getting on with the rest of their
But not so Jeanne Oakley of Won-
Sometimes when her blood sugar is
low, she’ll simply zone out altogether,
unaware of the situation. She might
look like she’s just sitting quietly at
the kitchen table but she’s actually
in danger of losing consciousness or
As if contracting the mystery auto-
immune disease wasn’t enough, a
condition which activates the im-
mune system to destroy the cells in
your pancreas, which make insulin.
Jeanne’s condition is made life-
threatening by the hypo unaware-
That’s where ‘Buddy’ the wonder
dog comes in.
It’s a quite incredible situation that
this beautiful, lively, happy Groodle
dog, a cross between a Golden Re-
triever and a Poodle, can actually
detect minute changes in Jeanne’s
blood sugar levels and alert her to the
fact that she needs to do something
about it before it’s too late.
“People like Jeanne, who are hypo
unaware, are eligible for this pro-
gram,” said Andrea Curtis, a diabe-
tes educator at Gippsland Southern
Health Service in Leongatha.
“We sent a sweat sample down
when Buddy was only a puppy to help
with his training,” said Andrea.
“They have a number of puppies
they are trialling and the dog that re-
acts to the smell is the dog they use,”
said Jeanne’s husband, Ian.
“We got him when he was eight
weeks old and within 10 minutes of
arriving here, he let me know that my
blood sugar was too low.
“He’ll come up to me and put his
public, he’ll bark and he gets agitated
if I don’t do something about it.
“And he’s never wrong. He’s so
smart. Even if it’s just gone down to
four (4) he’ll know.”
“Typically your blood sugar should
be between 4 and 8 and anything
lower than that is a problem,” said
In recent times, Jeanne has been
approved for stem cell treatment,
which hopefully could cure her dia-
betes, but while she waits for the op-
portunity, she has been fitted with a
wearable device called a Continuous
Glucose Monitor (CGM) which moni-
tors her glucose levels 24 hours a
day, sending readings by blue-tooth
technology to a mini-insulin pump
which delivers minute drops of insu-
lin into the blood supply to maintain
It still means Jeanne has to take
pin-prick samples of her blood twice
a day, but it’s far better than having to
prick your fingertip six or eight times
a day and administer upwards of five
Between Buddy and the CGM,
Jeanne only has to inject herself once
every three days now and not only
does it allow her a lot more flexibility
in her daily life and when travelling
etc, it allows her, her husband and
their family to feel a lot less anxious
about Jeane’s day to day health.
And on top of that, Buddy is a beau-
tiful companion to have around.
“When we got him eight months
ago, he was only 4kg but look at him
now. He’s grown to 25kg.
“One problem we do have, when
going out in public, is accessibility.
Some people don’t realise that he’s
the same as a guide dog for me and
he’s allowed to go in anywhere.
“I think the only places he’s not al-
lowed to go are sections of the Mel-
bourne Zoo and an operating theatre.
“I carry information and approval
details with me but many people sim-
ply don’t know anything about it.”
If Jeanne is fortunate enough to se-
cure the stem cell treatment, the stem
cells will be injected directly into her
liver where they can grow in the liver
and start producing insulin. The dai-
ly monitoring and injections and even
Buddy, will no longer be required.
Although, regardless of what hap-
pens, Buddy isn’t going anywhere.
Jeanne doesn’t know for sure how
she contracted type 1 diabetes.
“It happened 30 years ago when I
was eight months pregnant. I had the
symptoms then but they thought I’d
get over it after the birth.
“But I didn’t. I went into a coma be-
fore I realised it was serious.”
Thought to be in-part hereditary,
one of her grandmothers had type
1 diabetes and several cousins have
For 30 years, Jeanne’s life has been
heavily compromised by up to five in-
jections a day and all the monitoring
and precautions she has to take to
deal with the fact that her body can’t
control its sugar levels.
“If I can raise awareness about dia-
betes and also that there are more of
these dogs around that will be a good
thing.” Said Jeanne this week.
Education Building, Leongatha Hospital
Koonwarra Road, Leongatha
Diabetes Team: 5667 5643
Management for people with
Type 1 Diabetes
Information Session for people with
Type 2 Diabetes
FlexIT Flexible Insulin Therapy
Thursday August 10
Thursday August 17
Learn how to best match your
insulin dose to your food and
lifestyle with this 2 day program
Living with Diabetes & healthy lifestyles
New Diabetes team supported by Monash
Children’s hospital Endocrinologist’s.
Call 5622 1500 for inital consultation
with Dr Michael Nowotny
Referral required from your GP.
Cost: $5 per session. Bookings essential
Cost: $85 (Concession $55)
Bookings via GSHS www.gshs.com.au
For further information contact
the Diabetes Team
Last Thursday of the month
July 27, Aug 31, Oct 26, Nov 30
42 Murray St, Wonthaggi
25 a'Beckett St, Inverloch
2/1524 Bass Hwy, Grantville
Wonthaggi Hospital, Graham St
Wonthaggi Medical Group can assess your risk of diabetes and provide
support and education for effective management of Diabetes, pre
Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes.
Our General Medical Practice Services include:
! General Medical & Health Screening Services
! Vascular Health Assessments (ABI)
! Wound Management
! General Health Assessments
! Chronic Disease Management
! Diabetes Education and Management
! Pregnancy Management and Delivery
! Specialist Consultations via Video Conferencing
! Medical Services to Aged Care Residents
! Hospital In-Patient Care
For appointments call:
Wonthaggi 5672 1333
Between ‘Buddy’ the wonder dog,
a new glucose monitoring device
and support given by diabetes edu-
cator Andrea Curtis, type 1 diabe-
tes sufferer Jeanne Oakley and her
husband Ian are a lot less stressed
about Jeanne’s unpredictable con-
Love that dog! Wonthaggi resident, Jeanne Oakley’s life, and that of
her family and friends has become a lot less stressful since ‘Buddy’ the
Groodle came along. As well as being a great companion, the dog can de-
tect minute changes in the scent of Jeanne’s sweat, accurately predicting
when her blood sugar is dropping below acceptable levels. In Jeanne’s
case, as a hypo unaware sufferer of type 1 diabetes, it’s a lifesaving skill.
Buddy amazing diabetes dog
National Diabetes Week Ju ly 9 - 15, 2017
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