"Why do I have Epilepsy???"
I don't know if I've ever mentioned it before on the blog, but I've
suffered from had Primary Generalized Absence Seizures for almost 19 years, and it's greatly affected my life. I have memory, coordination and balance issues, and I've had to give up a lot of activities I loved, like video games, some concerts and clubs, skiing and gymnastics. Like 67% of all epileptics, I've also had the co-syndrome of depression and, for me, it's been the biggest challenge. 70% of all kids with PGA seizures outgrow them, and I did at 12. However, when I was 18, it reared its little head again, and I became one of the few adults with childhood epilepsy. I don't like to be called a victim or a sufferer, because it could always be much worse. I've lived on my own, have no brain damage and having been seizure-free for 9 years, I can drive a car. I'm on medications that have few side effects, and my last brain scan three years ago showed a normal brain.
If I'm okay, then why am I talking about it now?
Because with all I know about PGA, the one thing I don't know is why.
It's idiopathic, meaning there aren't known causes in every case, but can be hereditary. I'm the only one in the family as far back as four generations that I could trace with epilepsy, so it's a really frustrating answer, and without further research and education by the scientific community, I'll never know. One way to raise money for research is to participate in fundraisers, so when I heard that the Epilepsy Foundation of Cincinnati was coming to Huntington to start the Race for Hope 5K on May 1st, I knew I needed to sign up. I ended up deciding to walk instead of run, thinking about how much easier it would be.
There was nothing easy about it.
5k is about 3.1 miles, which sounds like nothing, right? It sounded so simple, and every time E would bring it up, I'd brush it off. Never mind that last January, I couldn't walk a half mile without stopping 2 or 3 times. Never mind that I hadn't been to the gym in the last week. Whatever, it's just a 5k. Before the race, I gave myself 2 requirements: finish in 60 minutes, and don't finish last. I didn't want to be the one everyone was waiting on or the one that got left behind. I never once took a moment and patted myself on the back for signing up, showing up or doing my best, and I should have.
When the walk started, I power-walked for a little bit, but literally two minutes in, my shins were on fire. Right away, I freaked out, and knew I wouldn't make it. The walk became more about making it to the next volunteer than leaving folks in the dust, and somewhere along the way it became more about the hope than about the race. I realized that I've wasted so much time beating myself up over all the things that I can't do that I've never given a thought to all that I can and that so many people can't, including walking. I walked for the me's that I have been, am and want to be. I walked by a funeral and walked on for the someone in the hearse that couldn't. I walked by Marshall University, and walked on for the people who thought I'd never make it there and those that did. I walked by my bank, our favorite restaurants and city hall. I didn't stop walking, not even once, not even for a second. I stopped checking the time, my heart rate and the calories burned, because in the moment, they just didn't matter. At some point, I snapped out of my internal dialogues, and realized that I was almost there. I'm not ashamed to say that I cried as I got closer and closer, and it was so amazingly cathartic. I could feel the pressure, pain and anger slip away, and what was left was just me. I crossed the finish line exhausted and calm, and met up with E, who was waiting for me.
So, how did I do?
With an official time of 52:27 (16:53 pace), I ranked:
81 out of 107 participants
18 out of 42 walkers
5 out of 6 overall in the 25-29 division
38 out of 53 overall females
2 out of 3 females aged 25-29
Yup, I placed!
Every time I try to brush it off as an accomplishment, all I have to do is look at this moment and that medal and I realize how awesome I truly am. I never stopped or looked back, and no matter how challenging it felt sometimes, I kept on keeping on, and for that, I rock! I don't always have to be the first or the best; by showing up and taking charge, I can keep being the best Carly that I can be.
"Life is a positive-sum game. Everyone from the gold medallist to the last finisher can rejoice in a personal victory." - Unknow
So why didn't I run?
Pretty soon after starting C25K, I realized that at least for right now, it's not the right program for me. I'll admit that it was really hard for me to come to the decision to put it on the back burner yet again, but I truly believe that had I kept pushing for it, I would've resented it. For me, the whole point of doing C25K was to have a new adventure, a new activity, and a reason to keep reaching for a goal, and it was just not doing that for me. I'm kind of jealous of everyone I admire who are having a blast with the program, and hope that one day, I'll be back to follow in their footsteps.
P.S. for every comment I receive on this post, I'll donate $0.10 to The Epilepsy Foundation (up to 500 comments). This is a cause I believe so strongly in, so please re-tweet, repost and ensure that I'm a little poorer.