By Dan Walk
Before the morning of Dec. 7, Conneaut Lake resident George Mercier didn’t know that he was living with a hero.
Mercier, a diabetic, was almost fully incapacitated with a low blood sugar level at 1:15 a.m. that night, when he attempted to call out for some assistance from his 9-year-old son Braden. His son was asleep with his door closed.
Mercier, weakened and partially blinded by a steadily declining blood sugar level of 46 (he strives for readings of about 100), called for Braden the best he could, but his vocal attempts were barely louder than his normal speaking voice.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do because my wife (Janice) was working (night shift) and my son was in his room sleeping,” Mercier said. “When you’re down that far, you can’t really holler like you’re out in a playground or something.”
But he knew if Brandon heard him, the boy would be a big help.
“Thank God he was here,” Janice said about her son, “because a lot of times he spends the night at grandma’s next door.”
Braden, a fourth-grader at Conneaut Lake Elementary School, was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at a young age. “So learning has never become easy to him,” Mercier said. “It’s always been on the difficult side. But he’s done rather well” — especially in his family’s health-safety lessons.
Braden still knew and remembered the step-by-step drill he was taught to carefully follow when his father’s sugar levels were low.
At the second call, Braden woke up and was immediately prepared to rescue his father. Braden did exactly as he was trained to do — pour a glass of orange juice and prepare a slice of buttered toast in order to improve his father’s deteriorating condition. He even brought out some desserts to assure his father’s health.
“He went a little overboard with ice cream,” Mercier said with a laugh before mentioning that the flavor was chocolate marshmallow, “and milk and cookies.”
A half hour later, Mercier’s sugar level was at a stable 69, and by then his vision had come back.
And it was all because of a heroic Braden.
“This guy right here, he’s my hero,” Mercier said as he patted Braden on the back during an interview with the Tribune. “He probably ended up saving my life. I mean, I was going under. There’s no doubt about it.”
Experiencing such low blood sugar levels was a bit of a surprise for Mercier, who went to bed that night at 197. It was plenty high enough, considering he should be within the 80 and 120 range, he said. Inside the range of 110 to 125 is considered normal for persons tested after fasting.
So, Mercier went to bed at 9:15 p.m. but he woke up four hours later feeling immobilized and with severely impaired vision before Braden’s assistance.
Mercier’s wife usually works until 6 a.m. and then meets with Braden at his grandmother’s neighboring house to take him to school before 8 a.m. If not for Braden, Janice may have found her husband in a lifeless condition once she entered the house.
“I think if I would have had to wait 6 1/2 hours, I don’t think I’d be alive today,” Mercier said. “That’s just something you don’t forget. If he wouldn’t have been here — if he was over at grandma’s or somewhere else, I think I would have died.”
When he headed to school a few hours after saving his father’s life, a modest Braden didn’t say a word about his eventful morning to his classmates.
“I didn’t really tell anybody,” Braden quietly said. “Because I didn’t know I was going to be in the newspaper.”
Even though Mercier checks his blood sugar levels four times a day — when he wakes up, before lunch, before dinner and at bedtime — nothing is guaranteed due to his diabetes. But he can rest easy knowing his son Braden isn’t too far away and will be ready to save his father’s life.
“He’s dad’s hero,” Mercier said. “I love him to death.”
Dan Walk can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.