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Balancing uncontrolled epilepsy and exercise

Sarah’s Story

I love running. I just love the feeling when you get out there and can feel the sensation of those feet on the ground. It is a wonderful feeling. I have loved running since I started at the age of 13. However, my ongoing ability to run whenever I wanted and to the intensity I desire changed when I was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 19. I have focal seizures with impaired awareness and one common trigger for me is intense exercise. This has caused an ongoing frustration for me, but I never let it stop me from exercising. I can still run, just need to do it at a moderate pace. I can cycle on a stationary bike to a maximum intensity and not have a seizure, but for some reason running often can trigger my seizures.

Becoming a mother

I am now a mother to a 16 month old wonderful little boy. Isaac is happy and playful and my pregnancy was great. No issues at all during and my seizures reduced to about 6-8 a month. Since becoming a new mom, my exercise has been occasional runs or pilates, but not much. I go for daily walks of 3-5 miles, but that still doesn’t feel like much to me. I have gained weight as a result of my new medication making me feel hungry all the time and also just having a bit more of a belly than I did before I was pregnant! I want to get back into pre-pregnancy shape again. But, how do I do this when I am always tired, work full-time, and don’t want to risk a seizure when I am home alone with Isaac? This has been an ongoing struggle over the last year. However, with my husband’s support, I have started to run again. A couple of days a week of 3-4 miles and it feels great. I make sure I don’t give in to my urge of going a bit more on one day, just so I can feel more confident I won’t have a seizure. I have also incorporated legs, arms, and ab workouts into my weekly routine.

Finding a routine

The move to overcome my fears and constant worries is a good thing. I love feeling a little bit sore. Feels wonderful! I love the fact that I know I am helping my body. I also know that exercise is beneficial to controlling one’s epilepsy and I want to make sure I don’t let any worries prevent me from aiding a decrease in seizures. The way I’ve been able to do this is to exercise after Isaac has gone to bed. I’m usually very hungry by about 7pm, so I make sure to eat a banana and other quick food before I start the bedtime bath and read a story routine. My husband has usually gotten back from work around that time, and so I pre-plan by getting into my running gear before bedtime and then once Isaac is asleep, I run! It is a hard thing to balance all of these things in our lives, but it is wonderful to still feel those feet on the ground.

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