It's happened once or twice.
Liz Meyer will roll over in the middle of the night and use to her phone to check the blood sugar level of the 9-year-old boy sleeping down the hall — and not like what she sees.
Meyer's son Logan was diagnosed with Type I diabetes almost 2 years ago, the day after the family returned from their annual summer beach trip in Ocean City, New Jersey. She knew something was wrong when he didn't want to go the boardwalk, play video games, or indulge any of the other things that little boys like to do when not being forced to perform arithmetic on command. Once Meyer and her husband finally coaxed Logan down to the beach, they could see the outline of his rib cage poking against the skin.
"His doctor diagnosed him in less than 30 seconds," Meyer said.
Her phone is synced to a device wrapped around Logan's arm. It was manufactured by Dexcom and provides what the company calls "real-time glucose data." His teacher at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School in State College has access to the same information on her iPad.
There have been a few hiccups. The late-night scares have involved Meyer pricking her sleeping child's fingertip only to discover that his blood sugar levels are actually well within normal range.
"For the most time it's a very reliable tool, but it's technology," Meyer said.
There are, of course, alternatives. Logan's doctor settled on a diagnosis after getting a whiff of the fruity scent on his breath, which is essentially the same function that a diabetic alert dog performs give or take 8 years of college.
Instead, Logan's new friend will spend the first two months of its life in Utah under the tutelage of an organization called Tattle Tail Scent Dogs, learning to detect the odors generated by low or high blood sugar that are imperceptible to humans.
"They'll train him and then we'll have to continue training him," Logan said.
He's accustomed to taking responsibility for his own health. Logan wears an insulin pump and always makes sure that he has an emergency juice box nearby just in case. Meyers said that his outlook is generally positive, even if she occasionally catches herself wondering "why him?"
"He obviously can handle it — I guess that's why him," Meyer said.
Earlier this week, Logan traveled from classroom to classroom to teach his peers at Our Lady of Victory more about Type I diabetes. On Thursday, students and faculty were treated to an extra dress down day for raising $1,124.39 toward the cost of Mickey (the dog, not the cartoon mouse he's named after).
The Meyers have also been selling t-shirts to help reach their $10,000 fundraising goal, but if your summer wardrobe is more or less set, you can still donate on PayPal or at any Kish Bank location. Money can also be mailed to Logan's address at 36 Sandy Lane, McVeytown, PA 17051.
Beyond Mickey's imminent arrival — possibly this fall — the Meyers are working to establish a nonprofit to help other children like Logan.
"I just think that he's going to do something amazing one day," Meyer said.