A True Friend 12/23/2011
"Real friendship is shown in times of trouble; prosperity is full of friends."
                                             -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I'm not exactly the social butterfly, but everyone needs someone or to lean on from time to time. Whether you've known them for seconds or years having someone that has your back 24/7 is almost mandatory, even if it's an eight legged creature. Having seizures in school is humiliating and there's nothing else to it. When I was diagnosed, I didn't want my friends to know, because 1) I didn't want to acknowledge it, and 2) I was afraid they would start treating me different, and there's nothing worse than being the odd one out. With epilepsy though, you can't beat the system and stay quiet. They're going to find out one way or another and finding out the hard way will result in an ambulance. I lost friends that I'd known since Pre-School. They became protective over me. All that came out of their mouth was "are you ok?", "how do you feel?",  "sure you're up to this?". I wasn't their friend anymore, I was the one that they felt the need to babysit. I was a crack in the sidewalk that everyone stepped over so they wouldn't have to deal with me, or they would step on the crack, ensuring that there was no place for me to go. Less we forget the ones who stepped in the crack, teasing and bullying. Going to the movies with friends, or walking around town wasn't hanging out anymore. It showed who true friends were, compared to the ones just along for the ride. My mom and I, instead, went down to the barn to put a smile on my face, placing those fake friends out of the picture. We went to go see my four legged horse. One who can't talk back... at least in English. Horse sense was never more visible. My four legged BFF knew something was wrong, and I just leaned on her, hugged her, vented as she listened. Even if I was having small absences, or myoclonic jerks, I'd get on her, and those brain fires stopped.  She was there for me, she took care of me as each tear of frustration built up in my eyes. It was a two in one, I had someone there for me, and I became a better rider with extra hours in the saddle. Then my family and I had the opportunity to bring another four legged creature into my life, this one a little smaller. Ms. Lady George turned my world up side down. She gave me an independent life, one that no matter where I am, how I feel, what I'm doing, she is there at my side every second. Every time I wake up from a seizure, there is no stranger with a stethoscope, there is a wet nose, wagging tail, and curly lox that I can hug and count on. In my experience, only one or two people are actually true friends. Mindy, a major horseback rider with the best personality is my girl. Long curly red hair, red cheeks that never change color from laughing, and never misses a beat when it comes to keeping you in check, is there for me 24/7. That girl has heard me laugh and scream and cry. She's made me choke and spit out water from her jokes, many of which I don't understand the humor in them, and she is always offering to help out in any situation, regardless of how big of a mess you are in. I see her less then two months a year if you count the days, but I don't even need to see her, text her, call her, cause she is there helping me through the challenge, pushing my expectations, ensuring the my dream is always there. And even if she is in a tough spot, she'll still be there and put you first. Can't ask for more than  that. Mindy is the sister I never had. Once you have a challenge like epilepsy, especially when you are handed that challenge at a young age, it makes you more mature, because you have to work 100 times harder than anyone else to meet the same goal. No one understands how hard you work except you. 99% of my friends today are adults. It worked out great because then there was no teenager insecurity you have to deal with. 

"Everyone is dealt a bad hand in life. It’s what you do with that hand that makes one so unique. This can be anywhere from being rich to divorce, epilepsy to quadriplegic, homeless to starving. Everything in life may not happen for a reason, but without the bad in life, we cannot experience the good. I graduated high school on the May 28th, so I am no expert, but I do know, I would not be the person I am today without it.

My dreams about becoming a veterinarian technician-possible vet, an EMT, and ski coach came earlier than I thought. I started riding horses when I was five years old and started competing in hunters at the age of seven. However, three years later I was diagnosed with epilepsy after having multiple tonic clonics. My passion, what my life revolved around seemed to be gone. Epilepsy didn’t take anything away from me. My family and I, instead, created a solution. We got a titanium helmet, and in the event I fall off, we got an inflatable air vest that protects not only my head and neck, but all of my internal organs. My first epileptologist didn’t like the idea of an epileptic riding horses and thought I should have collected stamps. 1) Every horseback rider falls off, 2) horses have an amazing connection and sense with their rider and in the end will come to a halt if they sense something is wrong… I’ve had two tonic clonic seizures on my horse and as well myoclonic jerks, and 3) I’m not the only one falling off their horse, it could happen to anybody, maybe people I ride with will have a seizure on their horse unexpectedly out of the blue. Because of my horsing habit, I believe in animal therapy so much. Now I jump four feet and compete against professionals in more advanced shows that go on for two weeks all around Colorado. I have a crazy dream of going to the Olympics.

I work for the manager at the ranch (Cozy Point Ranch) I board my horse at. There I have learned not only about good horsemanship, but how to care for horses if they are injured. I found my interest in veterinarian medicine there when we were caring for a horse that had fell down a cliff and its owner asked Cozy Point Ranch help take care of him. The manager asked me to clean its wounds out, wrap him, put gauze on his back, and scrape the scabs off that I could. That’s where I started out. Today I do ride along's with one of our local vet clinics. Now I get to do post mortems on cows, castrate calves, and do pre purchases on horses, look for arthritis in horses’ legs, and much more hands on.
I’ve always loved blood and guts, but twelve years of medical school wasn’t for me. I was able to take a first responder course and get certified in October of 2010. Since then I follow up with once a month refresher medical classes through the fire department. This fall I hope to get my EMT.

Skiing has been a large part of my life living in the mountains. I knew how to ski before I knew how to walk. Later I joined the freestyle program at a ski club we have. I started competing in small competitions around Colorado. When I stopped competing because it wasn’t for me, the director of the program asked if I wanted to be the club’s first coach in training. Three years later I was an assistant coach, and next thing I knew, I had my own group as a ski coach. I wear climbing harness with no legs, connected to a daisy chain with a carabineer on the chair lift. It acts like a seat belt in the event I would have a seizure on the chair, I wouldn’t fall off. The harness goes through the belt loops on my ski pants, I throw the daisy chain over the back of the chair and under, and then the carabineer connects to the harness. The group I teach knows how it works. At the beginning of each year, I tell the kids what epilepsy is, and what to do in the event I have a seizure. I give a lecture to the parents at the beginning of each year as well.

This past winter I did an internship with ski patrol. I loved how they took me out of bounds, under closed ropes, showed me avalanche areas, and did training with me. They taught me how to drive a toboggan and showed me the ropes.

It’s not what cards you are dealt; it’s what you do with the cards dealt to you. You can find a solution, or become isolated. But you only live once, and you don’t want to ruin all the potential you have.
“The idea being to accept fully what you are.”
~ Mattox

Outdoor Mindset is a great example of living life to its fullest despite having a neurological disorder. Still using a safe environment, this organization is just one of many that shows you can still lead an active lifestyle, pursue your dreams, and be an everyday person, while living with epilepsy or another neurological dis-order. It gives those who are isolated a chance to be “normal”, whatever “normal” means… Don’t waste talent or any goal for that matter, because I guarantee there is a solution that allows you to keep your hopes up.
CURE Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy
CNN’s Piers Morgan interviews Susan & David Axelrod about epilepsy and CURE
When: Tuesday, May 17th during the 9pm ET/6pm PT show (Please check your local listings for more information.)
Where: CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight

CURE Chair Susan Axelrod, with husband David, will appear in a special feature on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.” During the segment, they will talk about their family’s struggles with epilepsy, and the lack of awareness and research funding, which motivated Susan to found CURE: Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy. The segment will also feature Lauren Axelrod, the Axelrods’ daughter. Lauren, now 29, developed epilepsy at just seven months old.

If you miss the initial airing, check here Wednesday to listen to or watch the segment.

Please help us spread the word about this great opportunity for increased awareness of epilepsy! Forward this information to friends and family, watch the show, and share what a cure would mean to you via Facebook and Twitter.

This morning at the hotel, CG was struggling pretty hard. I thought for sure she was going to go big. Georgie was asleep under the desk in the hotel and got up and stood by Channing!!!!! It was so wonderful in the midst of a lot of concern about CG even being able to show at all this weekend because her brain was so active.
I'm not sure what happened when she went in for her first 'real' class but she and Perla rode like a rock star...on the last jump, jump #14 (ugh!), Perla saved it for them.   It was awesome!!!

Georgie is doing so well at her first horseshow. There is a dog park just up the street...so much fun!!!
Click on a photo below to view it larger. ;)
When Channing Seideman was diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, she refused to let life pass her by and give up her dreams. This Aspen, Colo., high school senior, who is both a ski instructor and competitive horseback rider, has found the means — and a four-legged friend — to keep her moving forward. “You have to find the solution,” she says, “because you cannot give up what you love.”
Read the rest of the article here
Channing Seideman, age 17 from Aspen, Colorado, has been living with epilepsy since she was ten years old. Rather than give up her active lifestyle of skiing and horseback riding, Channing and her family have found ways to make things work. With the help of her service dog, Georgie, Channing is helping give back to others who are dealing with epilepsy--just like her. Read the rest of the article in TeenVoices