BENEFITING: EPILEPSY FOUNDATION OF COLORADO
EVENT DATE: Aug 03, 2014
Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder behind migraines, strokes, and Alzheimer’s affecting people of all ages. Epilepsy is defined as a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Over 2 million people in the United States live everyday with various types of and causes of epilepsy.
How has epilepsy affected my life? I had been participating in triathlons for three years when in February of 2010 I had my first seizure and was diagnosed with Primary Generalized Epilepsy (PGE). PGE is a type of epilepsy syndrome of idiopathic or unknown causes. PGE is believed to be genetic yet oddly I don’t have a family history of epilepsy or a seizure disorder.
The hardest reality for me was losing my independence such as driving my car for a period of time, depending on other people, feeling a burden to friends and family but most of all the anxiety and fear of the unknown. I was consumed by the probability of another seizure. I experienced a major depression and lost my identity as a triathlete.
I decided I needed to refocus my life direction. I registered for the 2012 IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene with clearance from my neurologist.
I’m fortunate my seizures can be controlled with medication yet fatigue and stress have triggered or provoked seizures. How was I supposed to train for an IRONMAN without becoming fatigued or stressed with the physical, mental and time demands? What about the demands physically and mentally during race? All athletes push their body to its’ limits during the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a marathon. As a result of a seizure I suffered a concussion when I fell and hit my head on a cement flood. I had to consider if it was safe for me to swim and bike. Unfortunately, there’s no training programs or guidelines for someone with epilepsy participating in triathlons. A formula of strict preparation, medical monitoring, adequate safety precautions, and adhering to my specific race plan had to be established and tracked.
I can’t train as hard as other athletes. I have to limit my weekly training hours, monitor warning signs and symptoms and periodically skip key workouts when I’m not feeling well. I successfully completed the 2012 and 2013 Coeur d’Alene IRONMAN.
I share my story to inspire, encourage and support athletes with epilepsy. From my personal experience I was able to achieve success with appropriate medical monitoring, safety precautions, accepting limitations, and a reliable and caring support group.
I’m proud to say I am an IRONMAN with epilepsy.