Finally Running For Me

Shaken, Not Stirred!

 2012 TEAM Epilepsy Therapy Project 

Philadelphia Half Marathon 11.18.12

I used to run because my life felt like it was spinning out of control and I needed an escape. Now I’m running because I will not allow my life to spin anymore. I was shaken, and now I will not be stirred!

I was diagnosed with Epilepsy in 2005 caused by a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury earlier that year. I was only 32 years old, married ten years, with two sons, ages 7 and 2, and I was working full time. Our world was rocked in ways we could not have predicted. Seven years later, my fingertips can still recall the sharpness of the eleven life changing stitches hidden by my hair. I sat in a staff meeting unable to comprehend anything that was being said and worried that my life would never be the same. I was partially correct. I was definitely shaken!

I am still a wife and I am still a mom. I am no longer employed but instead focus my time and attention with those that I love. My days are filled with my family, including my 96 year old grandmother, with whom I spend several days each week helping age gracefully, and ensuring she has her afternoon cocktail when she chooses (a Martini, of course). I have been seen by more doctors than I can count on my extremities, been connected to enough wires to rewire our home three times over and weaned on and off drugs more times than the Octomom weaned children off bottles.  After my initial diagnosis, months of cognitive rehabilitation and some difficult trial and error with medicine, we eventually found the right concoction. With the exception of a few minor adjustments I was fortunate to have about four years with very few problems. For a while, I was not shaken and not stirred.

My world started spinning again last spring when I began having breakthrough seizures. It took me several weeks, and several seizures, to realize what was happening. I had become so accustomed to having controlled epilepsy, it never occurred to me that the day would come that medicine would fail to stop my seizures. I have tried four new drugs, all of which have serious side effects. We settled on the one with the least offensive side effects that still effectively controls seizures. I’m learning to grow comfortable with the fact that treating epilepsy will affect many parts of my daily life and it’s important that I remain vigilant. I have been shaken, and I have realized some valuable lessons.

Epilepsy is scary and confusing. Nearly 3 million Americans suffer from seizures, yet most people don’t even know the simple first aid steps to help a person having a seizure. I am blessed to be among those with epilepsy that can be controlled with drugs. I can help those that are not able to speak up; for the exhausted parents tending to their young child stricken with epilepsy and the variety of complications it brings, for the single adult trying to manage epilepsy and a job but unable to drive a car, for the teenager afraid the next seizure will happen in the school cafeteria or in English class, or for the young mom who just wants family life to be normal again. I am an advocate for epilepsy.

Combining my epilepsy advocacy and my passion for the pavement, I have formed Team Shaken, Not Stirred! We are running the Philadelphia Half Marathon on November 18th to benefit the Epilepsy Therapy Project! Seven of my running buddies have joined Shaken, Not Stirred and together we are setting big goals to raise big money and big awareness for the Epilepsy Therapy Project!

Please join me in this very personal labor of love by making a donation to sponsor me or to sponsor Team Shaken, Not Stirred. I am still in the process of changing drugs now, but that is not going to change my focus. While I am training for this race I will be in our community sharing epilepsy education and awareness. Change will happen when people are aware and I am certainly willing to speak up.

To donate (just like my children already have)  just click this link or copy it to your browser and click the “Sponsor Me” icon. https://epilepsytherapyproject.myetap.org/fundraiser/2012PHLMarathon/individual.do?participationRef=3917.0.251389979 .

I’m deeply grateful to my family and countless friends who have given me support in so many ways and especially this last year. Thank you for loving me when it has been hard to love me, for holding my hand when it would have been easier to let go and for listening when I didn’t make sense.  Thank you for letting me know it’s ok to be me even when I’m still not sure who I am. Most of all, thank you for giving me hope for an easier tomorrow.  A bold new journey is beginning and I’m thankful to be Shaken, Not Stirred!

Cheers!

Gatewood

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One thought on “Finally Running For Me

  1. Johnny Campbell says:

    I am so proud of my wonderful wife. You are such an inspiration. I love you.

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