Martial Arts and Epilepsy

Discussion in 'Health, Fitness & Nutrition' started by Void_Karateka, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. Void_Karateka

    Void_Karateka Pauper Karateka

    Hey guys,

    About a week ago I had an epileptic seizure. I was diagnosed with photosensitive epilepsy at the age of 19 shortly after finishing basic training in the British Army. This effectively destroyed any ambition of me pursuing a career in the military and later law enforcement.It also greatly rocked pretty much every pursuit I had, namely parkour, martial arts, weight training and video games.

    I was put on a permanent prescription for sodium valproate and left to try and rebuild and redirect my life. At 19 not so bad really since I'd only been out of education for a short while and had some experience within the military to give me a grounding to get into work. What I never realised was the confidence knock it would have.

    I barely trained for around 4 months after my initial series of seizures and when I did start back training everything was done very tentatively and without the vigour I had before. I had to be very careful in parkour. I wasn't able to just climb up somewhere and do some big leaps from building to building anymore or dangle over 40 ft drops. I couldn't hit the gym and pile up the plates on the bench or sprint on the treadmill. Worst of all I couldn't throw myself into my dojo time like before. I couldn't focus like before. I was sparring like a complete novice. My pain threshold seemed to have deteriorated somewhat too. I just felt nervous all the time when working with a partner and especially the kids.

    Always in the back of my mind was that what if. What if I'm applying NiKyo and drop into a seizure? That's a completely smashed radius and ulna for my partner. What if I dropped onto a child? Can you imagine how scared the kids would be if they saw me like that?! All these things constantly ran through my head. To some degree they never left.

    I took my medication and got a job through a good friend working as a lab tech in a metallurgical lab. Slowly built myself back up and got my confidence. Kept on top of taking my meds every morning and night. Met my missus, had my first son. Stopped taking my meds after the side effects became too bad to deal with (severe depression, loss of inner ear function [balance] sleep disturbance etc.). Had a good couple years off the medication thought I was over it, you hear stories of people having a seizure or a few seizures then they're fine for the rest of their lives.

    Evidently I'm not one of those people. I don't know what triggered my recent episode but it was scary. And scary for a whole new set of reasons. I'm a parent now and my missus was days away from giving birth. Even now I'm fearful that I could have a twitch or blackout whilst I'm holding my newborn or in the presence of eldest lad. The most recent one was the first time my missus had seen me in such a state, I don't want her to be under that kind of stress again.

    I've pulled my back pretty bad from convulsing so I'm forced to take it very steady while I recuperate t the moment (it hurts so bad when I sneeze lol). I'm also out of work for a bit too which is a blessing really I can get myself straight without any worries. I don't feel as wary getting back into my training routines now so I'll be going ahead with that regardless. But I'll wait and see if that monster rears its head when I get into the dojo next.

    I'm not sure of the purpose of this post but it helps just to write it down. Any of you guys have similar experience with major setbacks to your martial arts or any training? Any tips for mid/upper back injuries?

    Take care and be safe folks.
  3. Aaron

    Aaron Shadow Warrior

    About 10 years ago I got injured on the job; boss had me do a tower climb in sever winter conditions, almost lost a couple of fingers and toes due to frost bite. Took me 3 months to have full use of my hands and feet without too much pain, took another 3 months for my nerves to come back to normal, the frost bite damage caused my nerves to become super sensitive on fingers and toes. Martial arts training was overly painful for about a year, plus I was bouncing at a pub on the weekends.

    Luckily meditation and acupressure points helped heal my nerves back.

    We all go through setbacks from injuries, seizures are nothing to take lightly, but at the same time you have to live your life, do your best to mitigate risks.

    With your seizures are they triggered by patterns of light and color?

    NOTE: Another way of looking at life; living in fear of the what ifs is no way to live. Saw this somewhere online and I think it hold true: "Life, don't be afraid to live it, its not like your going to get out of it alive". A little dark humor, but its true. Dont be afraid to live your life because of a condition that you have very little control over.
    Void_Karateka likes this.
  4. DeeD

    DeeD Nak Muay

    I think the best thing to do would be to find out more of what could trigger a seizure and from there be aware of things that could be triggers, I think you should do some research on the effects of getting hit in the head and epilepsy triggers just to be on the safe side medically but i think other than that your confidence will grow naturally if you keep pursuing your passions and realise that you can still do most if not all of what you did prior to be "diagnosed"

    I had a lower back injury when i was in early high school which prevented me from going overseas and taking part in a rugby tournament that we earned a place in,Sport to me was everything That year was probably the darkest in my life but I got through that and recovered and played the following year and made the "1st team" for the school which was great I then suffered another injury on my neck between c2& c3 on my spine which put me out for a while I then started training in martial arts and have strengthened my neck from clinching etc to such a degree that it is really really strong to protect around that area, im thinking while im typing this i have been injured so many times over the years various sports,Martial arts etc but and this is the important part, those setbacks made me stronger not just physically but mentally especially mentally. So this could be your "dark" point but trust me when you get to the otherside you will be a better man

    All the best
    Void_Karateka likes this.
  5. Void_Karateka

    Void_Karateka Pauper Karateka

    Thanks guys. The main problem for me is I don't actually know what triggers my seizures. The only thing I know for certain is when I'm going to have one. I have a shirt period of mini faints (pretty much the same as taking a solid punch to the head and getting rocked but with more stuttered breathing) and a seizure follows after. As far as getting hit in the head goes I've always been fine with that, even being choked out doesn't seem to bring one on (although I am a twitcher lol).

    I suppose what weighs on my mind more than anything is past experience. I don't want to be in the same place I was with the Army. I'd set my sights on that being my long term career and it was all taken away, I suppose I never fully recovered from that.

    Still, they say everything happens for a reason. I'm sure having this time to reflect and take stock of things will only serve a positive purpose.
    DeeD likes this.
  6. Kuyaken

    Kuyaken Karate for the streets not just for trophies

    I have a friend who also had a shortened British Army Career due to eplilepsy. He's waiting for confirmation from his Doctor for when he can carry on training with me again. I also have a Student with Epilepsy and I work with her and watch for the tell-tail signs which were informed to me by her parents. She's been with us for about 6 months now.

    I would recommend talking through this with your Instructor. Advise him of any tell-tail signs that may signal a seizure so he/she can move you off to "relax"

    Also if martial arts is something you enjoy but are nervous about contact arts - Tai Chi Quan would be a perfect art, very effective and explosive when trained correctly. It can include many techniques found in Aikido and Jujitsu if you source to correct Instructor who is qualified in Chin Na etc

    Good luck my friend
    Void_Karateka likes this.
  7. RJ Clark

    RJ Clark Tree Ninja Staff Member

    Man, this is a tough thing to talk about. Thank you for trusting us enough to bring a very personal issue to the table.
    My cousin had frequent seizures after having his femur snapped at a concert. About two years ago the frequency and intensity spiked. It is heart-wrenching seeing the psychological effect of that uncertainty (it can happen anytime, don't want anyone to see it but what might happen if someone isn't there to help, and so on) and the physical debilitation after a seizure. Your family and friends will eventually understand (if they don't already) the kind of discipline and mental fortitude it takes to deal with this issue and the limitations you have to set on yourself for your and their safety, yet still be the rock that your family leans on when they need support. When those tidal waves of depression and anger come washing in just remember you're the rock that the negativity will break upon and you'll still be standing strong for your family and friends. Stay strong no matter what life throws at you, Void.
    DeeD and Void_Karateka like this.
  8. Alice Okasan

    Alice Okasan Disciple

    I am so sorry you are going through this. I grew up with an epileptic father, and as a small child, it was really scary not understanding what was going on (I have a particularly horrifying memory of my dad going into a seizure while spanking me. *cringe*) As I got older, I learned to see the signs that he was getting ready to have one, and by the time I was a teenager, I knew all the ways to make sure he was safe and how to remind him where he was when he came out of it.

    My father was afraid of having seizures in public. He was basically afraid of being embarrassed. It manifested into extreme social anxiety.

    I feel sorry for my dad in a lot of ways. He let fear keep him from things I know he would have enjoyed. If you love martial arts, please don't let this kind of condition keep you from training. (I wonder if regular training could even help in some ways). Let your instructor and some of you other martial arts family know how to see the symptoms of an oncoming seizure and how to deal with them. I bet they would be understanding and helpful.

    We have a young lady in our dojo (just received her black belt so she's been training for years) with a strange heart condition. There have been a few times during class that she's passed out or been close to. It was pretty scary the first couple times. But we've learned to see when she's about to have an episode and how to manage it until it passes. She has my utmost respect for not giving up something she loves due to physical problems she can't control. And our dojo family is willing to help her when she needs it, no judgement. We love her and are happy to have her and what she contributes to our classes.

    And read the quote in my signature. I think it sums it up. Don't let fear keep you from living, because there's a whole lot of living to do.
    RJ Clark and Void_Karateka like this.
  9. Void_Karateka

    Void_Karateka Pauper Karateka

    My condition is well known to my instructors at my dojo. A lot of of the problem is anxiety. It took me a while before to get back into the swing of things.

    I'll never quit martial arts, parkour or anything else for that matter. As it stands I still want to train in Archery and have set my sights on competing in martial arts (more on that to follow in a new thread at the start of next week) by next year so I have plenty to work towards.

    Alice, I can relate to how your Father felt. That feeling of embarrassment in public is quite scary. I'm fairly confident I have the support to overcome it though.

    Thanks for your thoughts and insights folks, they've all be thoroughly appreciated.
    Kuyaken, Aaron and RJ Clark like this.
  10. Alice Okasan

    Alice Okasan Disciple

    That's good to hear!!! I'm a competetive archer as well! I've found archery to be almost as addictive as martial arts....almost. :)
  11. Kuyaken

    Kuyaken Karate for the streets not just for trophies

    Wow, I've always wanted to take up archery too, amazing
  12. Void_Karateka

    Void_Karateka Pauper Karateka

    Quick update on the seizure, now seizures :(

    Basically had another couple in the weeks following that post and have now been put back on permanent medication. Which is a bit pants. My cuurent medication is a benzodiazapene called clobazam, meaning I'm unable to operate heavy machinery etc (basically lost my job because I'm not safe on an industrial lathe). I get a bit drowsy sometimes and getting back into the pill taking routine is a pain.

    Bright side, none of the severe side effects I had with the medication I had before. Only the drowsiness and occasional feeling of being on a boat (only ever when I'm seated, never stood up, feels like I'm swaying around as if in boat). Also I've been told the side effects should wear off in a couple months so I'll be fine then :D

    Also the time off work has got me looking back at fitness and my training a lot more and I've started up a progress page on facebook and will be putting a thread up on here soon too charting everything I'm doing training-wise.
    Kuyaken and DeeD like this.
  13. DeeD

    DeeD Nak Muay

    sorry to hear about your job man, not cool but with that positive attitude you have I am sure this is a small bump in the road, all the best
  14. Kuyaken

    Kuyaken Karate for the streets not just for trophies

    Sorry to hear it, wishing you a quick turn around on the Job front and levelling out yout Epilepsy

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