I am participating in the Summer Fitness Challenge to raise funds to make a difference in the lives of people living with epilepsy. The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives. 

As a young athlete, I was diagnosed with tonic-clonic seizures upon awakening after ACL reconstruction (knee surgery) my freshman year in college. What this means is I am at risk for having seizures close to any period of time that I wake up or am very tired but there are still so many questions around what causes this type of seizure, why it is triggered and the best way to treat it. What I do know is when I have had episodes I lose consciousness and control of my body without knowing until well after my episode ends. After my diagnosis I feared the reality of not experiencing a normal life. I feared telling my friends, going out late, driving and many things someone should not have to fear. My episodes resulted in me making trips to the hospital and having to take a day or more to allow my brain and body to recover fully from the damage that a seizure can cause. Fortunately my neurologist was able to prescribe medication that effectively monitored my episodes almost immediately. After about two years I was placed on new and improved medication that had fewer long term effects on my body giving me the chance to have a healthy family if I ever chose to. This was not something I was concerned about at the time but a grave reality for many women who take medications that negatively impact their ability to give birth to a healthy child.

Over time I have learned what I can and cannot do, how much sleep I need to get and accept the side effects that my medication causes. At the time I had no idea what being diagnosed with epilepsy meant outside of knowing that I would have to take medication for the rest of my life and coming to realize the reality that people fear and misunderstand this diagnosis. I came to realize I would have to monitor everything I did from the amount of sleep I got, to ensuring I did not get involved in any activities that may alter the effect of the medication I was prescribed. At the time, this was scary. I had never had to be as careful about my daily activity and I was really unsure of the extent of my diagnosis. It took a very long time for me to accept and share my story because I feared judgment and I lacked knowledge of how to care for someone that lived with epilepsy. There were very few people that understood and still truly understand how epilepsy effects an individuals life. Fortunately, I have a very strong support system with my family, doctors, and friends. Over time I have accepted my diagnosis, I have let go of the fear of judgment, I have become more self-aware and invested in self-care and I desire to learn more about those that live with epilepsy. 

Living with epilepsy means I have to be more careful; that's ok. I take 2,000mg of medication each day to ensure I don't have an episode. I inform the people closest to me and those that need to know. I make sure I eat, sleep, drink water and exercise consistenly to keep my body balanced. I rest when I need to; even when it is inconvenient for my work schedule or my workouts. The best thing that has come from my diagnosis is my self-awareness and preservation. 

I had no idea so many people lived with epilepsy until I began my career in the Pharmaceutical Industry and became more aware and transparent in my journey with Epilepsy. As a passionate fitness professional the Epilepsy Foundation Summer Challenge allows me to participate and raise awareness for a cause I am impacted by each day and very passionate about. Many individuals who live with epilepsy do not have the freedoms, support or treatment that I have experienced and with this challenge and the pursuit of the Epilepsy Foundation I am hopeful resources and therapies can continue to be developed and improved.

Please support this cause by making a safe and secure donation to my fundraising webpage. Giving to the Epilepsy Foundation means you make the world a better, easier, more manageable place for the  3 million+ people in the U.S. who are living with epilepsy and seizures. 

If your looking to get involved, Join me in the Summer Challenge and share my story!

Your support is truly appreciated.

With Gratitude and Love,

Katherine Falzareno


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