“I had a difficult day today. Halfway through the bike segment during the Lifetime Tri Series in Chicago I had a bad seizure which caused me to crash. In the upcoming weeks, I will be working closely with my doctors to try to come up with a treatment plan. I am hopeful that this won’t take too long so that I can get back to training. Once I know more, I will provide you with an update.” – Michael Poole
This athlete and leader has taken the opportunity to join forces with Athletes vs. Epilepsy to become a spokesperson for people living with epilepsy. He recently also was invited to participate as the Grand Marshall for the Bike Challenge at Camp Boggy Creek. On the heels of all this epilepsy awareness activity, we reached out and Poole was kind enough to take a break from his training regiment to speak with Living Well With Epilepsy.
JESSICA KEENAN SMITH: Thank you for taking time to speak with Living Well With Epilepsy. It’s really important for those of us living with epilepsy to hear from someone like you who is a success as an athlete and a student. Do you mind giving us some background on when you were diagnosed and what type of seizures you have?
MICHAEL POOLE: Sure, my epilepsy started when I was around 18. I have Grand Mal seizures. It was a real surprise for my family. No one else has seizures and we didn’t really know anything about it.
SMITH: So, that would have been your senior year in High School right?
POOLE: That’s right. I really struggled. I ended up having to drop out of school because of my epilepsy.
SMITH: You completed your high school degree though. Because you are now working on your undergraduate degree at the University of Southern Florida.
POOLE: That’s correct. I did finish high school and I am now working on my undergrad degree in chemistry at USF.
SMITH: So, how did you get into triatholons?
POOLE: Triatholon was a popular sport in my high school. I joined the running team and found I was good at it.
SMITH: My readers can tell you, I am not super sporty. Tell me what is your training regiment like?
POOLE: Tri is three sports. Each day I swim, bike and run. Generally I train about 30-40 hours a week. I am also a full time student.
SMITH: Being a full time student and a full time athlete and having a chronic illness does not leave much time for anything else. What is your ultimate goal? The Olympics or something else?
POOLE: I’m not aiming for the Olympics, but there are a few world championships I have in my sites. My real goal is to be ranked #1 in the US.
SMITH: What about your studies? Do you have a vision for what you will do with your degree in chemical engineering?
POOLE: Not at this point. My dream is to make a living as a triathlete.
SMITH: I’m going to shift gears a bit so I don’t take up too much more of your time. You recently visited Camp Boggy Creek, a year-round medical camp for children with serious illness. What was that like?
POOLE: I wanted to visit Camp Boggy Creek because it was an opportunity to get involved in the epilepsy community on a local level. Athletes vs Epilepsy is great but it is a national effort. I really wanted to reach out locally. I just spent a day there but I talked to as many kids as I could. They have invited me to be the Grand Marshall of their Annual Challenge Ride.
SMITH: That’s fun. I’m curious, what prompted you to go public about your epilepsy?
POOLE: I mentioned that my family didn’t know anything about epilepsy when I was diagnosed. People seemed embarrased to talk about epilepsy but it occured to me that it doesn’t need to be that way. There doesn’t need to be any stigma.
SMITH: Michael, it has been a pleasure. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with Living Well With Epilepsy. I look forward to following your success.
To follow Michael on Facebook visit: https://www.facebook.com/michaelpooleprofessionaltriathlete
To learn more about Camp Boggy Creek visit: http://campboggycreek.org
To learn more about the SeriousFun Children’s Network visit: https://www.seriousfunnetwork.org/
To learn more about Athletes vs. Epilepsy visit: http://www.epilepsy.com/make-difference/get-involved/athletes-vs-epilepsy