East Belfast lady credit ‘life-saving’ canine with serving to her overcome Coronavirus

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A Belfast woman living with diabetes said her life-saving golden retriever was one of the main reasons she was able to successfully beat Covid-19.

Wendy Smith, from east of town, caught the virus last October and is still suffering from its effects, with a loss of taste and smell.

She shared her experience and told how the virus had brought her to the hospital.

“With type 1 diabetes, I was very concerned about contracting Covid-19 because I knew diabetes made me more prone to disease than anyone else with no underlying health condition. My lips turned blue at one point and I ended up at Ulster Hospital in Es was a worrying time. ”

Wendy uses an insulin pump to treat her diabetes, and during her recovery she noticed a nasty infection that settled where her pump connected to her body.

“In November I got an infection at my insulin pump site. It got very red and hot. After four days on antibiotics, the area where I moved my insulin pump also swelled. My whole upper arm turned red. I ended up in A&E, ten days on IV antibiotics and then three more weeks on oral antibiotics.

“I think because Covid hammered my immune system, it took me much longer to get over such an infection. I don’t think it would have had that much impact in normal times.”

Not only did the mother of two grapple with the physical effects of Covid-19, her recovery from the virus coupled with the lockdown also took a mental toll on her.

Wendy and Echo

“I got a lot of support from my family, but it wasn’t until I was talking to other people with diabetes and someone else who also had Covid that I realized I was mentally exhausted,” she said.

The Coleraine native says it was the unconditional love of her ‘working dog’ Echo, 5, and an online peer support group from the Diabetes UK NI charity that helped her through the dark days.

Echo is Wendy’s “four-legged everyday savior”, as the officer has not been able to determine when her blood sugar level is dangerously high or low since an operation some time ago.

“I gradually lost my hypo-consciousness after surgery, but after taking Hypo while driving my car about five years ago, I knew I needed a working dog from the Hypo Hounds Charity to manage my diabetes to get.

“I had up to 15 Hypos a week, some of them at night. I have no doubt that Echo has saved my life countless times. She is trained to alert me when my blood sugar is too low or too high. She’s trained to put her paw on my knee and bark to alert me, or when I’m in bed and Colin (Wendy’s husband) is down she’ll pester him so he’ll know he’s looking after me got to. “

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She added; “Echo takes the pressure off the rest of the family as they trust her to look after me and she is always great company but I appreciated her even more when I was recovering from Covid.

“Echo and Diabetes UK NI’s online peer support group definitely helped me deal with this. This was the first time I got involved in a peer support group with other people with type 1 diabetes.

“I liked how the groups for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are divided. I think this is a great idea because there is so much misunderstanding about type 1 diabetes. “

Wendy says Lockdown gave her a new appreciation for what other people with diabetes go through when they have little support or are isolated.

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“People who don’t have anyone at home or a family to talk to can feel very isolated. The online peer support sessions encourage people to talk about issues related to their diabetes that they may never have talked about before and encourage people to take this first step.

“It was great to chat with people who understood your concerns and concerns. I would highly recommend it. “

And now the super cute zoom loving Echo is bringing a smile back to others living with diabetes during lockdown by crashing online peer support sessions.

“She loves the camera and sees other people, so she shows up next to me in the zoom sessions,” laughed Wendy.

The five-year-old pooch’s remarkable lifesaving skills don’t end with Wendy. The Golden Retriever recently proved she’s a puppy by rescuing her canine colleague Max when she donated blood to the seriously ill terrier suspected of being accidentally poisoned.

Donate blood to Echo to save a pooch

“Echo gave Max a blood donation and she is recovering well. Echo really is an exceptional dog, I am happy to have her. “

The next online peer support group for people with type 2 diabetes starts on Wednesday, February 24th at 7.30 p.m. and lasts for five weeks. To register for the Type 1 or Type 2 peer support groups, send an email to nivolunteer@diabetes.org.uk

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