Reader Chides TV Program for Inaccuracies About Type 1

I don’t know if you watched this show that aired the week of January 20 here in Rochester, N.Y., on WXXI Public TV. The program included a short segment where a 12-year-old type 1 diabetic relied upon a medical dog to avoid seizures. It was very incomplete and misleading.

It left viewers with the distinct impression that seizures are ever-present and that having a therapy dog was essential to avoiding them. It’s this kind of misinformation that does a disservice to all with type 1.

Here is the note I sent to the Nature Program Director(s):

Dear Program Director,

We certainly enjoyed your Nature feature, “Dogs That Changed the World,” however the segment on Delta the diabetes dog left the viewers with incomplete and misleading appreciation for type 1 diabetes management.

Like the boy featured, our now 12-year-old daughter has had type 1 diabetes since age 7. We/she manage her disease effectively with frequent blood glucose checks with her insulin delivery via a Medtronic Insulin Pump, always worn. Fortunately, with good management practices, our child has never had a seizure, severe hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.

Viewers were left with the incomplete impression that Delta’s intervention was the only way the boy avoided seizures and that seizure risk is a constant high-level threat for all with type 1 diabetes. True only if the patient ignores commonly accepted and well understood testing and insulin administration routines.

Your story minimized the significance of good management practices that are clearly the key to avoiding problems. The visual of the boy monitoring his glucose was the sole exception.

Yes, your story was about the role of medical dogs but it left too much out in the case of diabetes management. Makes me wonder what else I saw in the program that I should understand more fully?

Ronald A. Wellman Webster, NY

(Father of Laurel with type 1 for four and one-half years and an A1c = 5.7)

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