It’s something I’ve recently started talking more about, but still many never knew. It was something I hid for years as I didn’t want to be laughed at. I wanted to be normal, and most of all, I didn’t want to be a burden towards anyone.
At the age of 17 I had my first Tonic-Clonic seizure (used to be called Grand Mal) the worst possible kind you can have. This is the only full seizure situation I vividly remember leading up to that moment yet, every one I’ve had since just always made me ask, ‘Why Me?’
I had just finished playing a video game and went upstairs to put on my night clothes; I put them in the bathroom which I never do. Then I walked into my twin sister’s room, looked at the TV, and told her that the people in the TV were coming out at me. Next thing I knew I woke up in an ambulance. My immediate family knew, but most didn’t, and all I could focus on was my senior year of high school football. I was told as long as it could be controlled I could still play. Oddly enough, I never had a seizure during the day, or ever during my high school or collegiate football career. They would always happen after the season or when I was highly stressed. Deep down I was scared out of my mind more than people know. Being scared everyone I go to sleep, wondering if you’re gonna wake up or not is something I think of daily.
Never letting it stop me, I pushed forward to playing college football and even played at a level after that when many couldn’t. I was a rare case with my seizures. They would only coming at nighttime, but there was always something that hit me in the back of my mind telling me I wasn’t feeling normal. I was always having to pop pills every morning and night. I’ve been on 4 different medications since 17, and all have had some type of effect from weight gain, bloating, no appetite, uncontrolled temper, to even backing up in my body and not going through my kidneys properly which led me in the hospital for 1 week. At that time, I lost 11 lbs in a week. My dilantin level was a 42 and shouldn’t go past 10. I had double vision and slurred speech until my body re-calibrated itself. Doctors told me my seizures should be and would be worse if it wasn’t for how in great of shape I was in at that time. At that moment, I dedicated my life to being in the best possible shape I could be mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually.
It has been a journey and work in progress. I laugh and smile as much as I can, it’s my natural defense mechanism. And I religiously stay active everyday as I feel it keeps my sanity. If I miss a day it takes me out of my element. So working out for me is not for aesthetics, ripped abs, or to run a 4.5, I do it for my health, my wife, my son, my family, to live to the fullest and the best of my abilities to be there for my almost 2 year old, Zane. It’s what I call NON-NEGOTIABLE… nothing will make me miss a workout even if it’s 10 minutes of mobility or a body-weight finisher.
I’m telling my story while fighting back my emotions to show you that even as an expert in the fitness community, I too fight the same battles you do. I too struggle and strive to be an inspiration of greatness day in and day out, but most importantly, I’m just like you and nothing will stop me.
To this day, I have run countless Spartan Races as I’m a SGX Coach, competed in CrossFit, been a part of the Training For Warriors (TFW) Guinness Book of World Records Deadlift competition, and still so much more to accomplish. Even with all the adversity that’s been put in front me, I’ve never backed down as way too many people rely on me to be on my A-game. And I’ve got more lives to impact for the better.
Even on my worst day I won’t be defeated. To me, even though Epilepsy is a life threatening disease (#1 silent killer next to cancer), it’s a superpower that allows me to relate to many that thought couldn’t. I’m telling my story to show you that I’m no different, I just choose to continue the good fight. Living the code daily is the mantra and I’ll leave you with this Japanese proverb.
“JOZAI SENJO” Which means, ALWAYS PRESENT ON THE BATTLEFIELD OF LIFE.