A Service Dog for Louishope for the future
My name is Lou Hawley, and I was diagnosed with epilepsy six years ago when I was 21 years old.
Since having epilepsy, I have had more than a dozen episodes of epilepsy related sleepwalking and seizures, which has compromised my work abilities and quality of daily living.
In my journey with epilepsy, I have learned to face challenges. These challenges allowed for the development of resilience and a recognition of the importance of creating a safe environment. As recently as the Fall of 2022, I recall a sleepwalking episode that brought on fear and confusion when waking up not in my apartment but in the house next door. Police were at the scene. I thought I was in my bed. I tried opening a door only to have it immediately slammed shut. To my surprise, someone was on the other side, and I was told I was about to enter their apartment. Once I became aware, I understood that this was another one of many episodes. I explained to the police that I have epilepsy and that sleepwalking is characteristic of this condition. They understood and helped me into my apartment. This episode initiated my earnest investigation into acquiring a service dog.
Before this occasion, I had been hospitalized at least four times in my six years with epilepsy. These are not pleasant memories. The physical and emotional strain of nausea, vomiting, and not knowing what sparked a seizure was concerning. During these challenging times, my loved ones, especially my mom, have kept me strong and inspired me to be responsible with my situation as best I can because my experiences of having seizures at work have impacted my ease at work, relationships with colleagues, and career progression.
There have been various treatments, lifestyle modifications, and coping mechanisms I adopted to regain control over my life. I have been highly compliant with my medication to the point of having a phone app to log in my medication dose and timing. I meet regularly with my primary care physician (who specializes in neurology). I have taken her advice for preventive measures (e.g., no glass framed picture hangings, alcohol avoidance, regular exercise, epilepsy alert bracelet). Having a highly trained dog that can recognize subtle changes in my body and give me advanced warning will help immensely, especially since I live alone. Such a companion would bring a crucial lifeline during unexpected, critical moments. This opportunity would give me and those around me peace of mind and an increased sense of security. A specially trained dog would significantly enhance my well-being and overall quality of life.