November is Epilepsy awareness month, and I wanted to take a few moments to highlight the epileptic in my life.
The Bike Man (my overly handsome, super strong hubby) has been plagued by Epilepsy his entire life. While he was a child he spent countless hours and days in a hospital, while he was pricked prodded and probed to find where his seizures were coming from. At times, as a child, he had numerous seizures an hour. The Bike Man took tons of medication until they could find just the right combination for him.
The Bike Man suffered with a bit of a learning disability, but this did not hinder him in his goals of being like other students. He never settled for an easy way out and worked extra hard to be able to pass school like the other students. The Bike Man never considered himself to be learning disabled and he would beat himself up over lower test scores. He was able to excel at art, and his amazing paintings are hung all over his parent’s house today.
As an adolescent he began, what seemed, to outgrow his seizures, to where eventually the doctors wanted to wean him off his medication.
Around about this time The Bike Man started to get really into cycling, which is how he eventually got his nick name. The Bike Man started racing mountain bikes all over the East Coast., and became one of the strongest riders in town (Williamsburg, VA). The Bike Man put all his energy and focuses into his physical health and training, and set high goals for himself with racing.
In January of 2006, I had the pleasure of meeting The Bike Man. Although it was not love at first sight for me, he knew I was “the one” right away. In the summer of 2006, while vacationing in The Outer Banks with his family, I experienced firsthand a bad seizure. I knew he was embarrassed, and hurt that his seizures had returned. I also knew at that moment that I was up for the challenge of battling his seizures with him by his side.
In that same year, The Bike man became was able to upgrade to a Semi Pro Mountain Biker, which felt like a dream to the both of us. We traveled all over the East Coast from Georgia to Vermont. The Bike Man continued to suffer from seizures, but was bound and determined not to go back to the doctors. He wanted to fight them on his own.
The most defining moment in my life happened in April 2008, as a newly engaged couple we drove cross country to California for races, and on the way back stopped in Arizona for another race. It was the best time of our lives. But the actual moment that made my life came just hours before he was supposed to be on the starting line. While we were in Arizona we camped to save money, we had a great time camping. It was really hot, and the cactus gave us little shade, so before the big race The Bike Man and I were laying under the car for mild relief of the suns harsh rays. The Bike Man started to have a seizure, not a bad one, but he goes into a coma like state for a short period after them. I knew this was bad; we had driven all this way for him and his goals. He would beat himself up the whole way home if he didn’t make this race. So I cooled him down with chilled soda cans, sat him up, slapped his face a little and got him to the start line. Tears rolled down my check when The Bike man finished 6th out of over 50 guys. I knew at that moment, if he could conquer this, we were meant to conquer the world.
In September of that year we were married, and started our lives together in our little rental house. His seizures started intensifying, and I found myself to be his life support at times. When his breathing would stop, my breathing for him would begin. One night while riding home from work he had a seizure that nearly made him be hit by a car. Shortly after that moment The Bike Man informed me he wanted to go back to the doctor. On Christmas Eve of last year, we were in the neurology unit of MCV, the doctor prescribed him new medication, and things have been much better since then.
Many people (including my mother) freak out about The Bike Man’s seizures. They worry about him constantly. I may worry some, but I know that I have no control over them, and neither does he. God is in complete control 100% of the time, and I can’t change that. What will be, will be. Recently while we were at dinner with a guy who we ride with that recently had gone into cardiac arrest and died for 5 minutes, I asked his wife how she was dealing with it so easily. She said that when you have to be strong, you just are. So I guess when The Bike Man stops breathing, and I dont freak out (which would be my normal reaction at almost anything) its God giving me the strength to be his life support.
Camping in Arizona
To me the seizures make him the man I married, without them he may not be that man. We don’t let the seizures define him or us, and we never will. I think The Bike Man is someone to look up to (and not just ‘cause I am short). He has set his mind on so many things and conquered them all. It’s a grim reality when I think I want to quit something, and remember what he has been through.
The outcome of that race in Arizona was that The Bike Man was able to upgrade to his Professional Cyclist license, how awesome is that? A pro athlete is what sleeps next to me every night!
Windam Mountain New York 2009
Finishing in Fontanta, CA 2008