If you take your ability to go where you want, when you want, for granted, it can be hard to realize what a life-changing impact a trained medical alert dog can have on the independence of a Type 1 diabetic.
After an automobile accident related to her diabetes, Lia Nelson was no longer able to drive. Here's how EAC O’Shea changed that and gave her back her wheels.
Lia shares, "On the day of my accident, my co-workers had all chipped in on a big breakfast, which I took additional insulin to allow for. However, instead of going to lunch that day, I went to the bank. And my sugar was very low, and I crashed into a metal beam on a bridge approach! The accident location was right behind the Medevac Helicopter facility, so they came running to the car. And the first thing the responder said was, “You are a diabetic. I can smell you."
Fast forward two years, and I have O’Shea. I got my license back and can drive again, because she alerts me to my lows. Carol had drilled into me not to second-guess the dog, but while on a long drive I did question her alerts – two of them around 45 minutes apart. After the first one I stopped to check, but my sugar was in range. I actually wondered if maybe there was something in the car that I had been wearing when I had a low before, but there was nothing in the car. I had a very long drive ahead of me, so I kept going.
When she alerted me the second time 45 minutes later, finally my sugar was low and still dropping. She had started alerting before the drop was registering on the equipment!
Now, I've had diabetes for 46 years. As a kid, my hands used to shake and the teacher would know I needed apple juice or something, but now, unless it is extremely low – even as low as in the 40s – I cannot tell I'm low. But that doesn't matter anymore, because of O’Shea. It is the best thing in the world to have your partner next to you."
People often look at me and wonder why I have a dog. I explain she is my service dog because I am a type 1 diabetic and I cannot feel low blood sugar anymore. O’Shea can alert me before they get too low or too high. It gives me a positive outlook on life, having her and knowing everyone loves her," said Lia.