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.