When Running Becomes Dangerous to My Health

Jenny Hill Unsplash

I recently had to make the difficult decision to stop running. Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t love running, but it was a good way to get my exercise in. It was also a pleasant way to spend some time with my son doing something together.

But two nights ago, I had a seizure in the middle of our run. We were coming up on a park, and I just face planted into the grass on the edge of the sidewalk. I was unconscious for about 2 minutes, then I came to and we walked back to the house. After talking through it with my wife and son, we decided as a family that I needed to stop running, for one simple reason: there’s no reason this couldn’t happen again, and maybe next time I don’t miss the sidewalk.

This is part of the life when it comes to having a seizure disorder. Things that others can do without a second thought become dangerous for me. I hadn’t even considered this when I started running though, to be honest. In retrospect, it feels pretty shortsighted that I didn’t think about what would happen if I had a seizure while running, and how dangerous that could be for me.

This is a good example of the conversations I have to have with myself and my family all the time. I have to find the balance between living in fear and not putting myself in unnecessarily risky situations. Let me explain what I mean by this:

On the one hand, it’s true that I could injure myself with anything that I do. I could be sitting at my desk, have a seizure, and injure myself. That doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t sit at my desk. At the same time, stairs can be a great danger for me because I could fall down them. To contradict myself though, we have lived in a two-story house for the last year, because it fits our family’s needs. My world isn’t, after all, only about me.

To continue thinking about finding the right balance, I can’t allow fear to drive my life. It would be too easy to make that choice, to do nothing in my life because I’m afraid of hurting myself. That would remove so much potential for joy and memories, and it’s not a choice I’m willing to make.

Here’s an example – about a year ago now my wife and I took a two-week vacation to the United Kingdom. We spent a week in London and a week on a driving tour in Ireland, with a little bit of time in Scotland on either end. It was without a doubt the best vacation we have ever had.

Did I have some seizures while we were in the UK? Absolutely. Was I extra careful around the Cliffs of Moher, just in case something crazy happened? Absolutely. Do I regret going halfway around the world with the love of my life for 14 glorious days? Absolutely not.

So this is the life I live, every day of my life. I have to decide if the risk of a given activity is worth the reward, and at the same time decide if it’s worth the potential injury. Some days, I make the wrong choice, like when I decided to pick up running again. I’m grateful I didn’t face plant on the sidewalk, that’s for sure, but I was enjoying the time with my son. And to be honest, I’m still not sure I did make the wrong choice, because the months we were running together were great times. There are no easy decisions with my seizure disorder.

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