1 in 26

1 in 26

The story of a student-athlete living with epilepsy

Six weeks into my freshman year of college I had my first seizure. The mixture of my late night cram session and early morning practice was not a good combination. I remember waking up and brushing my teeth, but that’s it. I awoke to EMTs, Public Safety and my RA all standing over me.

They took me to a hospital near my school, where doctors diagnosed me as an exhausted college student. A few weeks later I came home for Thanksgiving break, and it happened again. This time, my mom was there, and she saw me seize. Once again I woke up to a panicked room filled with EMT's. They rushed me to the hospital and admitted me overnight, where doctors ran every test in the book. The next afternoon a neurologist walked into my room and told me I had epilepsy. I could see the terror spread across my family's faces and tension filled the room, but I only had one question: "would I be able to play softball?" He told me yes, prescribed me some medicine, and we all went on our merry way. I thought taking the medicine would be the end of seizures. The idea that this would become a lifelong battle never crossed my mind.

After the break, I went back to school and remained seizure free for a short period. However, it wasn’t long enough to stay comfortable. My seizures came in spurts; one summer I had six, and during finals I had two within five hours. Each seizure brought with it new injuries. One morning I was home alone, and I fell out of my bed and hit my head on my nightstand; I awoke covered in blood. During the first year and a half, I sustained several concussions and chipped teeth. I even had one while running on the treadmill and broke a few fingers. Doctors told me to avoid stressful situations and lack of sleep; obviously, they hadn’t been to college recently. Family members questioned if I should still play softball or suggested I take time off, but I wanted to stay. I worked so hard to play Division I softball, and I was attending a great academic school. I had pushed through ACL reconstruction in the middle of my recruiting process and taken hundreds of SAT practice tests; I couldn't fathom the idea of leaving school or quitting the sport I love. Still, I spent every day wondering when the next seizure would strike.

As student-athletes, we pride ourselves on being both physically and mentally tough. There is a stigma about emotion, and how showing it makes us weak. Because of this I never really coped with my diagnosis. In fact, I ignored it completely. I persevered through every seizure; still practicing on days I had them. Nevertheless, many coaches, teammates, and friends acted differently around me. My first college coach told me I was no longer worth the investment of his time. I had friends stop inviting me places because I wasn't allowed to drink. It was these sorts of reactions that made me feel like I couldn't be honest. I hid multiple seizures from my teammates and coaching staff out of fear of repercussions.

I believe that ignorance is partially to blame for this situation. Even though 1 in 26 Americans (approximately three million people) have epilepsy, it just isn't talked about very often. People are uneducated about this condition. I was heartbroken when roommates bailed, and teammates became distant. However, there will always be friends who stand by you! These people are kind and caring, and my advice to anyone (healthy or not) would be to hold onto them tight because they are true friends. Friends who stand by you through adversity are a real blessing.

After over 40 grand mal seizures in 16 months, I was fortunate enough to start working with an excellent neurologist who was able to get my seizures under control. It took countless EEG's and brain MRI's, but as of now I consider myself incredibly lucky. I haven't had a grand mal seizure in over a year (my last one was April 23rd, 2015 to be exact). There are times where I wish I never had epilepsy. I still have occasional petite mal seizures, so I am not allowed to drive. It may seem trivial, but I miss the independence. Additionally, the various medicines that keep me healthy can be overwhelming; they have side effects ranging from depression to nausea and fogginess. My epilepsy will affect the decisions I make in the future about where to live and when to start a family. At times, I feel like I'm hanging on by a thread. For the longest time, I thought I had to conceal my emotions, to keep my fears hidden away. However, I finally understand that it's human nature to struggle. It is not something you have to hide.

In the end, I truly am grateful for what my disease has taught me. I learned how to push through the darkest of times. I play college softball, make the dean's list, participate in clubs, and have had killer internship experiences all while battling epilepsy. Because lack of sleep is a huge trigger for my seizures, I have to make responsible choices. I cannot wait until the last minute to write a paper or go out all night partying. When I entered college, I was a naïve freshman who didn’t know how to balance her time; epilepsy taught me how to do that. Most importantly, I learned how to stand up for myself, and that no one ever has the right to question my value. Occasionally, I do wonder if I could have developed more as an athlete if I never had epilepsy, and that is probably the case. However, my softball career will end next year, and the lessons I have learned will last a lifetime.

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Cover Image Credit: Maggie Goldberg

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Welcome To Cleveland, Tyrod And Jarvis!

Contain your excitement Cleveland, the Browns are winning the offseason.

With one of the most important days of the NFL offseason looming, the Cleveland Browns were already prepared to strike. It might not have come as a surprise to Browns fans that a large effort was made in acquiring Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins. What was a surprise was the actual execution of the deal itself. The cost was certainly a good one. CBS Sports reported that the Browns overtook his contract for a 4th round and 7th round pick. A steal for one of the more prolific receivers in the NFL.

Oh, and the Browns weren't quite finished there, unbeknownst to them. John Dorsey received an unexpected call from the Buffalo Bills in regards to their quarterback Tyrod Taylor. In no time at all, a deal transpired to send Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland for a 3rd round pick. Highway robbery, if you ask me. But for some odd reason, many Cleveland fans are doing their best to complain about these deals. Not all or most, but some fans remain unimpressed. That's where I come in, to convince those fans that these trades only mean good things for the Cleveland Browns.

The common shot at Jarvis is his yards per catch (YPC), which aside from being absurd, is also highly exaggerated. Last season, with Jay Cutler throwing him the ball, Landry caught 112 balls (!!) with 987 yards receiving. That comes out to an average of 8.8 YPC. For some people that isn't impressive enough. Think about it this way. A first down takes ten yards to achieve. Landry is averaging 88% of that total per catch, 62% of it per TARGET, meaning that simply by throwing at Landry, you're likely to gain 6.2 yards, that coming in a down year.

Over the course of his career, Landry averages 10.1 YPC and 7.1 yards per target. Say Landry is targeted on every first down. The remainder of the Browns offense would need to only average 2.9 yards on the remaining THREE DOWNS in order to achieve 100% of all first downs. Now, I recognize this is way oversimplifying the math of football stats, but I think more people need to recognize that these numbers aren't falsified. A good coach with the proper understanding of his players should be able to maximize their usage, especially a coach who has Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, Duke Johnson, David Njoku, and Saquon Barkley at his disposal and Tyrod Taylor as his distributor.

Speaking of Tyrod, certain fans are either upset a third-round pick was given up or their upset because Tyrod is "too conservative" in his decision making. It is difficult to decide which claim is more laughable. Two seasons ago when Teddy Bridgewater went down with injury, the Vikings gave up a 1st and conditional 4th round pick to acquire Sam Bradford, an unimpressive near journeyman quarterback with his own checkered injury history. That's not to make Bradford seem bad, but I truly don't believe people are giving the Browns credit for the value they got out of Tyrod.

Over the past three seasons, while playing for the BILLS, Tyrod has accumulated 65 touchdowns on only 24 turnovers. That's just under 22 touchdowns and 8 turnovers per year. For comparison, Green Bay Packers and former Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer committed 31 turnovers in a single season. That means that had the Browns had Tyrod at quarterback, 23 drives would not have ended early with a short field or in our own end zone. If a third those drives ended in touchdowns, that's 56 additional points for the Browns or 4.5 more points per game, maybe even one or two wins to go along with them. So yes, maybe Tyrod is a bit more careful with the football than Browns fans may be used to, but having the ball in our home teams hands is actually a good thing.

The reality is, these two pieces will do wonders for the Cleveland Browns offense. In fact, our offense should be downright scary. The pieces are all there, especially if a running back is selected in April now that Crowell is leaving in free agency for New York. Now, the Browns just need a coach who can utilize all those pieces into a coherent offense. For some coaches, it may be difficult to balance so many weapons but if there's one thing, Todd Haley, Browns Offensive Coordinator, is used to doing it's balancing weapons. He learned that from his time in Pittsburgh while managing Ben, Brown, Bell, and Bryant. As for the rest of the NFL, consider yourselves on notice. The Browns are coming for a handful of wins next season.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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The 5 Best Moments From The Olympics You Probably Missed

These are things the media usually doesn't show on television.

You watched the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, and you saw the U.S. win 23 medals, 9 of which were gold. But there are a few things you probably missed - and they're moments you should remember. Here are five important Olympic moments you NEED to know about:

1. Gus Kenworthy Saves Puppies:

U.S. Olympic freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy saved 90 puppies from the South Korean dog meat trade. He even adopted one of the puppies himself, naming him Beemo. The rest of the puppies that he saved from being eaten in South Korea will be transported to the U.S. and Canada to be adopted.

2. Daniela Ulbing avoids squishing a squirrel:

During one of her giant parallel slalom heats, Austrian snowboarder Daniela Ulbing was faced with an additional challenge – a squirrel crossing her path. The squirrel scurried onto the course right in front of Ulbing, who had little time to react. However, not only did Ulbing manage to avoid the squirrel, but she also won the heat.

3. Kaitlyn Lawes says ‘Sorry!’:

Canadian Curler Kaitlyn Lawes, who competed in the mixed doubles curling event, accidentally threw a yellow stone rather than a red stone – which she realized a second after the stone left her grip. The mistake is not a penalty but did result in Lawes apologizing non-stop for the rest of the match, like any good Canadian would do.

4. Red Gerard wakes up late and wins gold:

Red Gerard, a 17-year-old U.S. snowboarder, became the youngest snowboarder to win gold for the U.S.A. However, the morning of his gold-medal race, Gerard not only woke up late but couldn’t find his coat – he had to borrow his roommate’s coat so as not to be late, a coat that was a few sizes too big. Despite the hectic morning, Gerard stepped up and had the run of a lifetime, winning gold and making history.

5. Ester Ledecka didn’t have any makeup on:

Czech skier and snowboarded Ester Ledecka had been ranked 43rd in the World Cup standings following the Super-G alpine skiing race. A total underdog in PyeongChang, no one expected Ledecka to make the podium, not even Ledecka herself. However, Ledecka surprised everyone when she not only medaled, but won gold by 0.01 seconds in the Super-G race, defeating the Austrian defending champion. Ledecka was so shocked by the victory that she refused to take her goggles off during the post-race press coverage, claiming “I was not prepared to be at this ceremony, and I don’t have any makeup.”

Cover Image Credit: Time Magazine

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