Sally and Robbie
Sally’s epilepsy began as a child and has affected, if not dictated, every aspect of her life. Sally experiences a very high number of seizures, at least four or five seizures during the day, every day and as many as 19 each night.
Sally says “Life was difficult growing up and my epilepsy had a huge impact on my whole family. I could never be left alone, I had to be home taught and making friends or meeting new people was difficult. I often felt very lonely.”
Yet she was determined that epilepsy would not stop everything and she married her childhood sweetheart, Philip, who she first met after writing to a Royal Navy Ship in search of a pen friend. At the age of 28 Sally thought she had come to the end of the line. She had just undergone an
intrusive and potentially dangerous brain surgery procedure that she hoped would end her seizures. It proved unsuccessful and made no positive impact on her health. While coming to terms with this, she read an article about Support Dogs in an Epilepsy Society magazine.
Sally explains “At first I was very sceptical of the idea of a seizure alert dog, and remember laughing about it with Phil. But then I saw Support Dogs had an Open Day coming up, I thought why not as nothing else had worked for me. When I went along I met a lady who had a seizure alert dog and I was amazed as I watched her dog alert her. It was enabling her to go somewhere private and have relative control of her seizures in safety. I immediately signed up on to the waiting list for one.”
That was over 13 years ago and Sally is now benefiting from life with Robbie, her second seizure alert dog, after enjoying a partnership with her first seizure alert dog, Star for 11 years.
Sally tells us “Having a seizure alert dog instantly made my life liveable. One of the first things I did when I first had Star was to make myself a cup of tea, something I had not been able to do in 30 years because of the risks of having a seizure when holding boiling water. I then went into town on my own, again a life time first.”
Sally says of her second dog Seizure Alert Dog Robbie “I can’t believe how good he is. Having him in my life means that, once again, I can get out and about, away from the house. When I am out it is reassuring to know that Robbie will give me a 100% reliable 50 minute warning prior to every oncoming seizure I have. So plenty of time to get somewhere safe. This incredible improvement in the quality of my life in terms of reducing the stress and worry of an unpredictable seizure striking at any moment has, I believe, also helped to reduce the number of seizures I experience each day.
These dogs do more than break down the barriers erected by illness or a deteriorating condition. Without a dog people tend to look right through you if you have a disability. You feel ignored quite a lot. But with Robbie people stop and ask what he does to help me. That gives me a chance to explain how he helps make my life so much more liveable.”