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My Vacation: Pushing the limits of my epilepsy on a wonderful get-away

This summer my family took a vacation at Hunter Mountain thanks to the generosity of some very good friends. It was our first vacation in a few years. The trip was not only relaxing, but it gave me the chance to try pushing the limits of my epilepsy in ways that surprised me.

I have to be honest, my epilepsy does not often limit what I am able to do. My seizures have been controlled for more than 13 years. However, because I have lived with epilepsy for more than 30 years, I am pretty careful about the choices I make. I try to get enough sleep every night. I take my meds every day, morning and night. Heat seems to be really tough on me, so I try to take it easy in the really hot weather. But other than that, I can swim even though I don’t like to get wet, I can drive even though my car is a beater, and I can go to concerts even though I don’t like loud noise. Seriously though, because my seizures are controlled I need to be careful, but my options are open.

Then again, there are some things I just don’t get the opportunity to do very often such as, hike to the top of a mountain, go horseback riding, relax in a jacuzzi, and go tubing in rapids. This was my chance to test my own limits.

Pushing the limits: Hike to top of mountain

On our first day, we went for a hike to the highest point on the mountain. The day was beautiful and company was even better.

Hunter Mountain Photo Credit: Jessica Keenan Smith
View from the top of the chairlift

Sometimes over-exertion and heat can be an issue for me. Thankfully the only thing that gave out was my knees on the way back down. Nothing serious, I just need more exercise.

Hunter Mountain Fire Tower Photo Credit: Jessica Keenan Smith
I did not make it up the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower


Pushing the limits: Horseback Riding

The next day we went horseback riding. The ranch required kids under 18 to wear helmets. I love horses, but I had visions of being thrown from my horse. I was not looking forward to having my seizures start up again. I elected to wear a helmet during our ride, even though I felt a little like a goofball.

All was fine and the helmet made me more comfortable until we started to canter. My helmet was slightly loose and bounced all over my head. It was all I could do to hold on to the horse and the helmet because I was laughing so hard. I don’t often get the chance to ride a horse so it was a great time.

All in all another wonderful day.

Horses, Photo Credit: Jessica Keenan Smith
One of the beautiful horses from the Hunter Mountain area.

Pushing the limits: Swimming

That afternoon we came back and went in the pool and the hot tub. Some people say these are two more ‘no no’s’ for people with epilepsy. Believe it or not, I survived. The hot tub was delightful as a followup to the horseback ride. The biggest issue for me was getting into a bathing suit.

fireworks from the pool, Photo credit: Jessica Keenan Smith
View of fireworks from the pool.

Pushing the Limits: Tubing the Rapids

The following day we went tubing on the Esopus River. We are not talking about family float tubing. This was Level 2 rapids. Again, the kids were told they must wear a helmet. Maybe I should have worn a helmet on the river too. (Maybe everyone should have.)

Pushing the Limits: Epilepsy Stigma

Selfie of me and my husband after a full day of hiking – pardon my look of exhaustion.

Before we even got going, the staff asked if anyone had a medical condition and my husband mentioned that we have a person with epilepsy in our group. Now, my husband and I have been married for almost 14 years and have known each other for 25 years. He knows full well my limitations, and he is a paramedic. I would never want to put him in a position to treat me (in a river no less) but I have no doubt he could handle it.

When the staff said a person with epilepsy could not tube the rapids we both jumped down the young woman’s throat. My husband wanted to know why. I immediately said I’ve been controlled for more than 13 years. When asked why, the staff claimed,”the shock of the cold water could cause a seizure.” My husband responded, “That’s not a thing.”

I get it, staff simply wanted to remove any responsibility from the company.

Later on as we were floating down the river, my husband asked me, “how are you doing.” I responded, “no seizures yet,” in my smart-ass tone. For the most part our group enjoyed tubing and I remained seizure-free.

Thank You!

I cannot thank our dear friends enough for inviting us to join them at their mountain retreat. It was a wonderful get-away and had the added surprise of pushing my limits. Every vacation should be like this!






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Founder and CEO Jessica brings a unique perspective to this leading epilepsy blog as she was diagnosed with epilepsy as a teen. She also brings 20+ years experience in marketing.

  1. Beth
    | Reply

    Excellent! It’s good to have a vacation. We just took my daughter, who has epilepsy, on vacation to the ocean. She went skimboarding, wakeboarding, and rock climbing. She had brain surgery in February. She had the time of her life!

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