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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar. 14, 2010
    Location
    Earlysville, Virginia
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    3,279

    Default Riding/Coping with Epilepsy

    I noticed there was another recent epilepsy thread, but I didnt want to hijack!

    I have had epilepsy since I was 13. Im now 23, and had not had a seizure in 8 years. About a week ago, I got the "seizure feeling" and blacked out for (what I believe was) a few seconds. Freaked me out big time. Chatted with doctor, he said it sounds like a seizure, just not the grand mal's that I used to have.

    Needless to say, no driving for 6 months.
    While on the phone with Dr, I was so frazzled, I forgot to ask about riding. Until I can chat with him again, my dad has made me promise not to ride (which has been terrible!)

    So here are my questions:
    Other than never riding alone and always wearing a helmet, any tips for riding safely?

    How in the world do I NOT GO CRAZY without a drivers license?! It's been a week and im already miserable(the increase in meds probably isnt helping my mood....)

    Any help would be great. Thanks!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct. 27, 2010
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    415

    Default

    My episodes have never been confirmed as seizures, but my athletic trainer has her suspicions that they are a mild type of seizure after seeing one. I have been prone to blacking out usually in response to pain, or warming up after getting really cold, since I was 8 and now I am 23 also. I've fully blacked out maybe 5-10 times and come close many more.

    I'm not sure on the specifics of yours, but as far as riding safety for me goes:

    1) I first identified when I was most likely to black out (after my fingers/toes turn white and then warm up, often after I get off the horse and start moving around after riding in winter) and made sure to take precautions to avoid those situations (hand and toe warmers, Smartwool everything, etc). I have a good 10-15 seconds of my "warning feeling" which is enough for me to get off the horse and hand it to someone else. Do you have a blackout log? Are there any common factors?

    2) I can also fight off the blackouts to a certain extent using a couple different techniques, and immediately consuming something loaded with sugar, like Gatorade, also seems to help, though it is definitely not blood sugar related.

    3) I make absolutely certain my trainers, barn mates and other barn people all know what happens and what they should do if they see me exhibiting warning signs/go down. I think that's the most important part. I failed to tell a new trainer once and really freaked her out when I got off and doubled over in the middle of a lesson.

    And for a laugh, you should hear about the time I came to in the arms of a big, unfamiliar, African American man in a parking lot on Christmas Eve in Memphis, TN, five hours from home. Now THAT is a blackout story!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 2000
    Posts
    12,296

    Default

    Hi there.

    I have never been over to this Forum because I don't consider myself disabled, although I have had epilepsy for 24 years.

    To me, epilepsy isn't a disability -- It's a condition.

    I have ridden and shown everywhere from California to Devon to Madison Square Garden to WEF.

    Twice I have had seizures at shows (I only have grand mal); one time I was standing in the barn aisle, the other time I was standing on a mounting block, about to get on my horse.

    It has never occurred to me to stop riding. Like the OP, I am well controlled and only have a seizure about every 6 - 8 years.

    Perhaps I am not concerned because I have never had a seizure when I was really concentrating and my brain was engaged and thinking. Ergo (I rationalize) I will never have a seizure on a horse because I am "alive" when jumping and competing. My mind is focused and I already have enough neurons firing that there is no "room" for those aberrant and pesky ones to start a riot.

    Besides, what's the worst that can happen? You fall off. I have fallen off hundreds of times (feels like it anyway) in the 50 years I have been riding. At least if I'm "out" when I go off, I won't be awake to know that sinking feeling of "Oh Shit!".

    I am only partly being blase (accent on the final e) about this. As I said, I have always refused to consider myself "different" from any one else because I have seizures. I refuse to let it define my life. I live life and do what I want to do; I will not stop doing anything that does not involve potential injury to others if I should have a seizure. -- Actually I take that back -- When allowed to by DMV, I drive. I know my limitations and I do not drive tired or distracted. When I drive I am constantly focusing on things around me, carrying on an internal dialogue with myself to keep myself alert; to prevent going into a "road coma".

    Because of that, I feel safer than 99% of the drivers on the road. I have never had an accident or gotten a ticket because I am hyper focused when I drive.

    PS: Having no license is a bitch. Sorry about that. I have hired people who need extra income and/or are bored staying home to chauffeur me around. I have met some nice people that way.
    I have talked Maggie into running for President. She will be running on the Curly Haired Dog ticket. Her campaign slogan is "Don't be douchy or I'll pee on your foot".



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 14, 2010
    Location
    Earlysville, Virginia
    Posts
    3,279

    Default

    Do you have a blackout log? Are there any common factors?

    No blackout log, because it very rarely happens. The common factors/triggers have been flashing lights, sleep deprivation, and forgetting to take meds(wont make that mistake again!)

    2) I can also fight off the blackouts to a certain extent using a couple different techniques, and immediately consuming something loaded with sugar, like Gatorade, also seems to help, though it is definitely not blood sugar related.

    I also feel like I can fight them off. I believe thats what happened during this past episode. It felt like it was going to be a grand mal seizure, but I "focused" and fought it off. Hard to explain!

    And for a laugh, you should hear about the time I came to in the arms of a big, unfamiliar, African American man in a parking lot on Christmas Eve in Memphis, TN, five hours from home. Now THAT is a blackout story! [/QUOTE]

    Haha that sounds like the best blackout story of all time. Must have been a little scary at the time, but glad youre okay and can laugh about it now!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar. 14, 2010
    Location
    Earlysville, Virginia
    Posts
    3,279

    Default

    Lord Helpus-- I too think that when you are focused on something, it helps to fight off a seizure or black out. I try to explain this to people, and no one can quite understand it (unless it has happened to them!) You explained it in a great way!

    I think I will "hire" someone to drive me around. Im a poor college student, but since im not paying for gas anymore , I can probably afford it! (hello, silver lining! Gas will apparently go up to 5.00 soon! Glad ill be missing out on that!! )

    I love your outlook, and reading these replies has already made me feel much better. Thanks!



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