Elle & Coach

The worst day of my life was a cold November day – November 28, 2007 to be exact. It was this horrific and terrifying day when my oldest daughter, Elle was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.


On my way to bring Elle to the doctor’s office that day, I called my brother-in-law, who at the time had been living with Type 1 Diabetes for nearly five years. After playing Web MD, I was already convinced that she was a diabetic, but I called him wishing and hoping and praying he might describe different symptoms. Maybe her excessive thirst, frequent urination, headaches, irritability and pale face were caused by a virus that would go away in a few days? I thought please just let this be a virus. Sadly, my brother-in-law could offer little comfort because all of these signs screamed diabetes.

When we arrived in our doctor’s office, I discovered that Elle’s regular pediatrician was out of the office. Skeptically, I began to thoroughly and methodically describe all of Elle’s symptoms to the other guy. I was careful not to leave anything out. His verdict was unconvincing – CONSTIPATION!!! Hmmm…didn’t he catch the part about how Elle had a bowel movement that morning. Remember, I was careful not to leave anything out.

Elle ShaheenFortunately, armed with an obscene amount of information I collected on-line, I knew that a simple office-administered urine test was all that was required to confirm whether our daughter would be handed this dreaded diagnosis. After pleading for a urine test, the other guy finally relented, proclaiming “if it would make me feel better he would do the test, but he was nearly certain that this was not diabetes.” Five minutes later, my worst fears were confirmed.

I will never forget that phone call from my pediatrician. She told me to “prepare yourself for a long road”. What she left out and what I would not have understood at the time is that Type 1 Diabetes is not a long road – it is a never-ending journey, one that requires constant management of insulin doses, blood sugar monitoring, physical activity and diet.

elle and coach book cover
Our lives changed again in 2012 when we welcomed Coach into our home. Coach is a medic-alert dog trained to detect dangerous changes in Elle’s blood sugar. The impact Coach has had on Elle’s life is truly remarkable. After he joined the family, Elle seemed at ease for the first time since her diagnosis, and our family instantly fell in love with Coach. My gratitude for what he is doing for my daughter, and our family, is immeasurable, and it inspired me to write a book about the experience. Elle and Coach tells the deeper story of Elle’s diagnosis, struggles to learn to live with diabetes and how Coach changed our lives.



For more information about the book or for media requests, please contact:

Hachette Books
Michelle Aielli

Nancy Seltzer & Associates
Nancy Seltzer

Kim Correro

One Comment

  1. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at the age of 34 yrs. In just a little over a year, my endocrinologist said it was Type 1. I have no family history, no risk factors….nothing. They have no idea why I developed it other than bad luck.
    I am amazed at the ability of these dogs to detect the highs and lows. I’ve had a few scares of my own, and am fortunate to have corrected them.
    I never complain about having diabetes, but in all honesty, some of the “lows” I’ve experienced have occurred so quickly that I’m very lucky things haven’t been more serious.
    Diabetes really does suck; and all the technology available still isn’t enough sometimes to warn you soon enough.

Leave a Reply