Overcoming My Seizure Fears and Hiking With Epilepsy
For as long as I can remember, one of my goals has been to go hiking. However, due to my epilepsy and dystonia, I have been too scared to try it. One of my biggest concerns was that I might have a seizure.
Fear of having a seizure
However, I consider myself to be the type of person who enjoys doing new things, and for the past 7 years, hiking has been on my bucket list. I didn't want my epilepsy to hold me back.
Surprisingly, I managed to go on 2 hikes this year. I know you're having a hard time believing it, and so am I! I am excited to share the precautions I took before, during, and after the hike in order to stay safe.
How I prepared for my first hike
The most important aspect of hiking, for me, is being in relatively good health throughout the specific month in which I will be doing the hike. When I had a very bad epileptic aura, such as when I was working a lot and feeling pressured during a particular month, I avoided going hiking.
Both my mind and body must be at peace and in a stable state. Only when I know my body is calm and I feel confident that my body can hike do I choose to do this type of activity.
Preparations are key with epilepsy
Before going hiking, I need to get my body ready. I make sure not to overexert myself in the 3 days prior to hiking. During those 3 days, I do not go to the gym. When I go to the gym, my body typically feels exhausted and needs to rest. So I try to conserve as much energy as possible before a day of hiking.
I also make sure I sleep at least 8 hours the night before. If I'm too exhausted, I could have seizures. And I must make sure that I have a healthy breakfast, since it will provide me with the energy I need during physical activity.
What I bring
Before going on a hike, I always make sure to pack my emergency medication in my backpack. I also prepared 1.5 liters of water and some snacks in my backpack for when I get hungry or thirsty, and I brought a hiking stick for better support during the climb.
Who I go with
The other crucial thing was having someone who's an experienced hiker go with me. When I told my friend my situation, they suggested the shortest and easiest hike to begin with. I was lucky to have them, and I wouldn't have gone alone.
It makes me feel safe and secure to I know I'm going with an expert! And that they are fully aware of my epilepsy and the possibility of a seizure happening.
My first hike
My very first hike lasted for half an hour, and the fact that my body was able to complete it astounded me. My friend, who is an experienced hiker, was a tremendous help to me and looked out for my safety throughout the entire trip.
During the hike, we stopped frequently to stretch our legs and take deep breaths. I didn't know how to use the trekking pole until I got to the bottom of the hill, and it was exhausting. I was glad to have my friend beside me while hiking.
I did it! Time to recover
After our hike, when I insisted that we go on another walk, my friend said that we had gone far enough for a beginner. It was important that I didn't push my limits too far.
Once we finished, my legs were trembling violently. I got so tired after hiking that I was scared I might have a seizure. So I took my emergency medicine, clobazam. However, I felt a sense of achievement because hiking had been on my bucket list for so long!
We immediately went to a nearby shop to get a meal and restore our energy.
Proud of overcoming my seizure fears
Because of this experience, I realize I have a few key areas to improve on, such as my stamina and my footing (where I place my feet during hiking). But it was such an amazing experience for me. I had succeeded in doing my first-ever hike!
I started with so much fear inside me, but I broke past it. While still being safe. I was proud of myself. And I'm so thankful for my friend who helped me achieve this.
It is possible for someone with epilepsy to do strenuous activities like hiking, but it is important to be prepared and to take precautions. I hope my story and my experience inspire others with epilepsy to try something they might be afraid of.
Do you have experience with conquering a fear to do something you love? Leave your thoughts in the space below.
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