Sunday, 14 October 2012

What does it take to be the person you want to be?

Some would argue experiences open you up to new things...
...others might argue it's what stops you from experiencing them.

There's one thing I know more than anything else - people's brains are really bloody complex.
If they weren't we'd have this neurology stuff licked, we'd as a result cure epilepsy too. But it's not the case.

The epilepsy I had centred in an area where fear was triggered from. The result: The most complex, potent, non specific fear anyone could ever possibly describe. To have these petit-mal auras up to a dozen times a day wasn't unusual.
Thankfully for my longer term heath, they were exactly that. Non specific.

If you experience something which was unpleasant, then I wonder if you develop a fear to explore it again because is was specific? Maybe the fact just is, that, if you're open to new experiences, then you take a risk. You essentially open yourself up so something which could be potentially unpleasant.

It poses an interesting question, which magnified, arguably is one of the biggest questions people with epilepsy have to ask themselves on a regular basis.
- Do you open yourself up to an experience and risk unpleasant repercussions in the hope you never have to experience them, or do you never have the experiences at all?
The risks are magnified to some extent for people with epilepsy. You could have a seizure crossing the road to get to a new place you've never been before, but if you lived in a padded room incase you had that seizure, then you'll never experience anything new in your life at all.

The fact is that if you didn't take some risks, not only would you not know who the person you wanted to be was, you'd never realise your potential to be the person you do want to be.

We all overcome fear, be it as someone with petit-mal auras, or someone overcoming the fear of a more specific experience recurring. It's that, that maybe even in a small way means we can start to become the people we want to be by giving ourselves new opportunity to be open to new experiences.
It might be a simple as crossing the road, to end up opening a door for an elderly person - maybe you just want to help and that's the person you want to be. It could be as complex as letting our guard down, letting someone truly into our lives so that you become somebody's Mr or Mrs Right. Maybe the person you want to be is a mother or father, a husband or a wife.

Life is full of risks, but it's also full of reward too. The simple fact is we will all have to overcome the fear of an experience happening or recurring that is unpleasant at some point in our lives, in order to make sure we create an opportunity to be who we want to be. But there's one rule which I think everyone should go by...

When we experience unpleasantness in our lives, the trick is to get back on the bike!

Friday, 5 October 2012

The risk and then the reality

So the Race Across America, or "RAAM" as it's commonly known in the cycling community, is consistently voted as the "World's toughest sporting event", "The world's toughest endurance bicycle race". It's far longer in distance than the Tour de France, but must be finished in half the time or less in the case of the team category. It takes in some of the hottest parts of the USA, some of the highest, most mountainous parts, 4 sometimes even 5 lane roads. The Solo category has amassed less official finishers than people to summit Everest, oh and it's killed 2 of it's participants in the modern race's era.

But the risk about this 3000 mile monster race's is hyped up for media purposes. Granted it's not the safest holiday on the planet - if you can call it a holiday!? But if someone was thinking of attempting the race, but was too scared of it because it might kill them, bear this in mind.

The reason in the female category there is about a 75% DNF or Did Not Finish rate, is because the person attempting it, is ultimately not willing to risk the most important thing in their life, their health, above finishing the race.
I think all competitors have to go into the race with the feeling that the race itself is far less important than your health.

So for someone with epilepsy, what does that entail?

Well for a start you must have the best crew possible. Excellent nutrition, them making sure you don't have to worry about remembering your medication, because they'll do it for you, making sure you just have to cycle, eat and sleep and everything else is taken care of, is absolutely crucial.

Secondly having done the race in the team category is a good indication of how you will fare over the period you will do the Solo race too. That knowledge you get is as about as close as you can get to pushing your boundaries and knowing your limits, without actually doing the Solo race itself.

Finally, the knowledge that you are well enough to do the race.
Medical testing is something which is certainly not alien to me. I've had more brain scans, than many people have had hot dinners. So getting expert knowledge before the race, that you are as safe, as a non epileptic individual would be doing the race, is also crucial.

At the end of the day is always better to be safe, than push your boundaries that one pedal stroke too far.

For me, particularly with the objectives of proving a point about the stigma of epilepsy, what would be the point in ending up injured or worse, because of something that might be cited as being induced by my medical condition?
Most people, particularly women, don't officially finish RAAM Solo. So to finish the ride at all, even outside the time limit, is something which still proves a massive point about people's ability who have the condition.
And after all, I doubt people sponsoring you for charity would decide you didn't deserve it after you had still cycled 3000 miles!

The reality of the risk, is that you make it as serious as you want it to be, by pushing yourself to an extreme and by not knowing your limits, or competing completely outside of them.