By: Emily Daycock

I was 10 months old when my seizures started after a bout of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). Though not supported, it seemed that all my triggers came from anything that was upper respiratory, i.e.  sinus, ear infections, cold, and it would normally happen every 6 to 9 months.

During my teen years, my seizures took on what appeared to be Catamenial Seizures with the start of me having an episode every 3 weeks instead of 6 to 9 months, mostly Grand Mals, which would then take me a week to recover only for the cycle to repeat itself. (Catamenial epilepsy is a gender-specific type of epilepsy in which seizure frequency intensifies during certain phases of the menstrual cycle.) (Studies have also shown that the decrease of progesterone and the increase of estrogen during a cycle can contribute to Catamenial Seizures.)

After trying almost every medication out there for seizures with no success, my pediatric neurologist sent me to my GYN. Our first attempt to stop the seizures lasted approximately 1 year with weight gain as the major side effect. On our second attempt I got to 17 months seizure free, and during this time I had also started running.  I also decided to join the girl’s basketball and flag football teams for 3 years and cross country for 1 year. During my 12th grade year I was an all-star in all 3 sports and as a scholar-athlete in 12th-grade I received a scholarship.

Upon graduating, my coach got me into 5k racing and shortly thereafter I was invited to join a racing team. I have since done 5K and 10k races, half marathons, full marathons, Ultras, and one 100 mile relay race. I have now done over 200 5k races, 18 10k races, 16 Half Marathons, 12 Full Marathons, 3 Ultras (six hour runs), 2 Sprint Triathlons, 3 Sprint Duathlons and 1 Half Ironman Duathlon.

In November of 2014, my doctor decided to switch my medication to a stronger pill.Though there is no proof of what actually stopped my seizures, be it progesterone, my exercise routine or that I just grew out of them, I couldn’t be more grateful for that and all the support from my family and friends especially my mom, dad and brother. I am proud to say that this December I am now 11 years Seizure Free!  

Ilana Bitton

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