This blog optimizes to impact the lives of others. Sometimes we post on light topics like coconut oil and skateboards. Other days, we focus on the anti-inflammatory properties of foods. Inherently though, we aim to add value to your day, somehow, someway.
Likewise, the characteristics we value in human beings and their stories remain relatively consistent. Bravery, unapologetic expression of opinion and affirmatively taking steps outside of our personal comfort zone are all encouraged daily, especially when we have a guest post.
As a baseball scout, Josh Herzenberg’s job is to be observant. He translates that skill into using his own experiences to powerfully assist others. His story below illuminates all of this blog’s core philosophies, tying a challenge into a commitment to a lifestyle change. Efficiency and effectiveness are factored in as he boldly and fearlessly teaches us through personal anecdotes. If he connects with a single reader, we win.
Welcome, Josh, and thank you. Read on.
Our health and well-being depends on taking care of ourselves and establishing positive routines, yet sometimes we let social pressures and our professional lives take precedence. I spent several years suffering needlessly before I learned this lesson.
In a recent discussion with a friend, I was asked if there was ever anything significant in my life that I consciously avoided revealing to people. Confident in my truthfulness and transparency, I explained that there was nothing.
I was lying.
I am an epileptic. My first seizure was in my sophomore year at college, when I was 19. I woke up one morning not to my alarm waking me up for class, but in the back of an ambulance. An EMT stood by my side asking me questions that I couldn’t hear well. My vision was blurry. I was very confused and discombobulated. My head pounded so badly I thought it was going to explode.
After a CT scan and a visit to the neurologist, it happened again. This time I had fallen out of bed onto my nightstand. A dorm roommate came in after hearing the crash and found me in the midst of a grand mal seizure on the floor. Another ambulance, another miserable headache. After more scans and a visit to another doctor, I was diagnosed with nocturnal epilepsy. I was prescribed a medication called Levetiracetam, an anticonvulsant to be taken orally twice a day.
While going through this series of seizures was painful and worrisome to my health, I was concerned it would also affect other avenues of my life. At the time of the initial diagnosis, I was preparing to embark on my second season of college baseball. I had responsibilities as a full-time student and held a part-time job in the library of the school. The last thing I wanted was for my epilepsy to have a negative impact on my ability to accomplish all of my goals.
I was also concerned about being treated differently. My college coach, my professors, my teammates, friends, acquaintances, administrators – they all had to know. In my mind, the insecurities about revealing what I saw as a weakness began to overtake the importance of my personal health. Heeding the doctors’ suggestions to abstain from excessive amounts of alcohol, consistently get enough sleep, and take my pills at the same time everyday was a far too cumbersome task for a socially active – and very stubborn – college student. As I continued to downplay the significance of my disorder publicly, I began downplaying the significance internally as well. And, as would be expected, the seizures persisted.
I am now just over five years removed from that initial diagnosis. I spent a long time dealing with the after effects of confusion, headache, soreness, facial petechiae and nausea. Eventually, I was forced to let go of my stubbornness. Following that medical advice became more important than upholding some social image or worrying about negative professional backlash. Openness about my epilepsy and recognition of the steps I needed to take to prohibit the re-occurrence of seizures was an important step for me to take in controlling this disorder.
I continue to take Levetiracetam twice daily, trying my best to do so at the same time each morning and each night. I abstain from excessive amounts of alcohol and make sure I get enough sleep each night. I have traveled throughout the country the last several years for work-related matters and have moved several times for jobs. My determination to take care of myself remains strong despite the nuisance of finding new neurologists, new pharmacies, and new ways to concisely and politely explain to TSA agents why there is a sealed box of pills in my carry-on bag. Coming to terms with my disorder meant changing from ignoring it privately to embracing it publicly.
I am confident in my abilities to minimize the possibility of a reoccurring seizure, and I am equally confident in my abilities to communicate the process of the occurrence to others, should it take place. Most of all, I am comfortable with the lifestyle it has forced me to take on. Regimenting daily ventures takes effort and purpose, and avoiding seizures is a great motivating factor for me to do just that.
Perfectly stated, young man. I’m almost twice your age but understand your situation well. Keep telling it. Your life is obviously different than you anticipated, but also much richer.
Josh Herzenberg says
Thank you, gavin. I share your feelings about my life changing in a positive manner, and I appreciate that my story resonated with you.
Andrea Presser says
You’re amazing! I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was 23 years old. It took me many years before I was willing to come to terms with my illness. Now I’m 53 and friends and family tell me I’m an inspiration for others who suffer with MS. Thank you for sharing your experience. You made my evening better!
Josh Herzenberg says
Andrea – Very inspirational. Thank you for sharing your experience here as well, it means a lot.
Gwen Mordecai says
Hi josh I work with your mom and find you both inspirational! My family has dealt with kidney failure which resulted in my giving my husband a kidney. So we know the mental strain that comes from a regimented life as well as the strength you acquire when you manage it! Good luck Josh!
Josh Herzenberg says
Thanks, Gwen. My mom is a wonderful, wonderful person that inspires me everyday. I’m glad you were able to work through your family’s health issues in such a positive and giving manner. I hope that other readers of Kap Lifestyle find inspiration in your story as well.
Terri Burke Wolin says
Hey josh. I’ve known you since you were knee high to a grasshopper. It’s had to believe your 24 and my Josh is 25. Having gone through 3 kids in college I would have been surprised if you had followed the strict guidelines. Give Josh W. A call and tell him to take his meds. I’m just mom what do I know.
Great post. Very inspirational to take the cards we’ve been handed and make the best out of them and be thankful for our lifestyle, whatever it may be.
A question I have is unrelated to the topic of your post, but is rather about your profession. As a 19-year-old college baseball player, I am interested in hearing how you pursued a job in scouting after college?
Thanks for this post, and we hope to hear from you again.
Josh Herzenberg says
Oh, 19-year-old Josh didn’t plan that far ahead. Thinking about the future at that stage consisted of figuring out the minimal amount of studying necessary to pass my next exam, and trying to find a date for the forthcoming weekend…
On a serious note, I have always loved baseball and have had a strong passion for learning about the game on many different levels. Once my playing career was over, I was fortunate enough to meet some extraordinary people that advocated for my advancement in the industry. I can’t pinpoint an exact point in time in which I decided, “I’m going to try to work in baseball.” It’s always something I’ve wanted to do in some capacity. The platform provided for me by those wonderful people has helped that desire to materialize into a full-time job. Here’s to hoping those advocates don’t catch on to my act, and continue believing that I actually know what I’m talking about sometimes. It sure is a lot of fun and I’m very grateful.
Josh, thanks for the response. I’m just curious being a sophomore college ball player what that process is like. Just trying to enjoy every day I have left playing baseball.
Random plug: one of my good friends at college is Derek Whalen. He’s told me before he’s talked with you about the rehab process back when he had Tommy John a few years ago.
Wish you the best with everything. – Jacob