Shelbyville native Derek Bly deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 and spent almost a year training Afghanistan National Police in paramilitary tactics. It was dangerous work in the south of Afghanistan, facing possible death each time he knocked on a door. “We faced it all,” he said.
Bomb-sniffing dogs trained to detect IED’s helped make the searches a little safer and may have saved his life on more than one occasion. “We had three dog handlers who went out with us on our searches,” he said.
Bly thought his return home would signal a return to normalcy. He was looking forward to holding his four-month-old daughter Addilyn, born while he was in Afghanistan, being with his wife again and going to work.
But not long after Bly returned he soon faced another life-threatening situation that he could not escape—Type 1 diabetes. Dereck was first diagnosed at 21 and is now 25. Addilyn is now four and old enough to appreciate her daddy’s daily battle.
Diabetes doesn’t run in his family and he does not connect it in any way to his military service. “It just happened,” he explained.
Bly said he was thirsty all the time, couldn’t sleep, and began losing weight, around 30 pounds in a just a few weeks. A trip to the VA hospital confirmed his fears. His wife, Daphney is a nurse and had already noticed some of the symptoms.
Now, Bly needs a D.A.D. No, not another father but a specially trained dog called a D.A.D. (Diabetic Alert Dog) that can detect high and low levels of blood glucose. He currently wears an insulin pump that attempts to maintain optimum insulin levels, but science has yet to create anything more sensitive than the nose of a dog.
Bly can recognize when his blood sugar is low, but high levels are harder for him to detect.