How Gizmo The Dog Saved My Life

Written 7 months ago by Angel Croitor

Lily Corcoran, a dance instructor at Explosion Dance Fitness in Tullamore, uses dance to alleviate the pain that comes with being a victim of Chiari Malformations.

When you meet Lily in person you wouldn’t be able to tell she was suffering from an incurable mental disease – but Gizmo could tell from a mile away.

Gizmo is Lily’s nine year old Yorkshire Terrier. He started life in America, where Lily has lived all her life until six years ago when she moved to Tullamore in County Offaly.

“I have a non-curable brain disease called Chiari Malformation – 80% of Irish people, northern European people, have it and don’t know they have it.”

Lily goes on to explains that Chiari Malformations means your brain is too big for your skull.

“Its a very dangerous conditions – it leads into other diseases which I have. We’re trying to get doctors in Ireland to recognise it because none knows how to treat it – you’d have to leave Ireland to treat it.”

Lily says that one of the downfalls of the condition is that she doesn’t “look” ill – it’s one of the invisible illnesses.

“Chiari is running rampant killing 30 and 40 year old people in their sleep.”

She says that it all started with headaches as a child. At the age of 12 she was living on prescription drugs to kill the pain. Neurological issues such as not being able to move your hands or your feet and particularly, in relevance to Lily, in relatinon to her breathing halting altogether in her sleep are just a few ways the diseases wreaks havoc on it’s victims.

Gizmo, her trusty little Yorkie, knows exactly how to snap Lily out of sleep in order to save her life.

“When I started complaining part of the test was to have a sleep study done – they film you when you’re sleeping and the electrodes will show when you stop breathing. I did stop breathing and I told them about Gizmo and they redid the test – they saw Gizmo knew before the alarms on the machines went off that my oxygen level was dropping and he was able to jump on my chest and wake me up.”

Gizmo sleeps with Lily every night and she says that she would be lost without him.

You can hear more about Chiari Malformations and how Lilly takes 108 pills a day to stay alive.