Girls In Action: Channing Seideman: Staying Active Despite Epilepsyâˆ’Thanks to a Canine
Channing Seideman, age 17 from Aspen, Colorado, has been living with epilepsy since she was ten years old. Rather than give up her active lifestyle of skiing and horseback riding, Channing and her family have found ways to make things work. With the help of her service dog, Georgie, Channing is helping give back to others who are dealing with epilepsy--just like her.
Teen Voices (TV): When were you diagnosed with epilepsy?
CS: I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 10 years old. My first reaction was, "Oh, it's just two seizures and hopefully they will be gone in a year." Later, I was diagnosed with juvenile myclonic epilepsy, something I'll have for the rest of my life. My family was shocked and I was just speechless and thinking, "Where do I go from here?" I still have small seizures every day, but major seizures less frequently. The seizures range from not being able to talk to just a twitch; afterwards, I have a pretty major headache. The seizures bring on a lot of dizziness as well, and I have to take a lot of medications. And kids often make fun of me, so I have only a few friends (but they are great, so I don't need more!).
TV: How have you managed to stay active?
CS: I really believe in animal therapy. It's amazing how animals have helped me. I've been horseback riding since I was five years old and I've had seizures on both of my horses. They can sense the seizures and they completely stop, just instinctually. Sometimes I'll be having a "bad brain day," having a lot of seizures, and my mom will take me down to the barn so I can see my horse and just calm down. I wear an inflatable vest and a helmet so that if I have a seizure while riding and fall off, I don't get hurt. We jump 3.5 feet jumps and hope to go to 4 feet soon. My dog Georgie has definitely given me a more independent life.
TV: How does Georgie help you?
CS: Well, on a daily basis, she can belch in my face, snort, and snore! Beyond that, Georgie has helped me to be the individual I want to be. It's a relief knowing that when I wake up from a seizure, I'll have a wet nose and wagging tail in my face. Georgie is also a big relief for my parents because she can get my medication and get help when I'm having a seizure. Georgie allows them to trust that that I am safe wherever I am and that's a huge relief.
TV: How did you hear about Canine Assistants and what inspired you to work with them? CS: I am an epileptic, but I'm very fortunate to be able to move on with my life. There are people out there who are having many seizures in an hour who don't have the luxuries that I do with Georgie. I'm trying to be as active as I can in helping others. Canine Assistants has a program called Coins for Canines that collects money for service dogs in my valley in Colorado. I've created flyers and cans with blurbs about Canine Assistants and have them set up at the elementary school and the high school, as well as at the restaurant my family owns. Through those efforts I've been able to give back. Georgie's getting a lot of press in local papers and magazines and that's been helping with fundraising and getting the story out there too. Now that I have Georgie's help, I'm trying to shine the light back on those who aren't so fortunate.
TV: What other ways do you stay active?
CS: I am a ski instructor at a local club. I have been coaching mainly 6- and 7-year-olds in the freestyle program for two years now. Before I became a coach, I loved to ski and compete all around Colorado. When I stopped doing the competitions, the club asked me to stay and help coach. Sometimes it's frustrating to work with young kids, but I love to ski. My parents were concerned about the ski lift, so we developed a harness that attaches to my ski pants and helps me keep from falling off the lifts if I have a seizure.
TV: Do you ever feel discouraged?
CS: There have been times when I'm on a really good streak and then a growth spurt happens, or I get sick, and I'm like, "What happened?" Sometimes I have to just lay down and crawl under the covers and let it all out for a little while. But the reality is that there are 3,000,000 other Americans with this disease and 200,000 new cases diagnosed each year, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.
TV: What would you tell other teen girls who are struggling to move on from a condition like epilepsy?
CS: I would tell them you can't give up. You have to move on because you're missing out on life "“ it's not going to help you to just focus on the negative side. You live only once. You have to keep moving forward. If you don't, you'll look back and wish you did. My family and I find solutions for whatever comes up. In the end, you'll disappoint yourself if you don't try to move on.
- For more information about Channing, see: http://www.dlpannone.net/seizetheworld/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47:you-only-live-once&catid=21:be-active
- Check out Channing's new website here: http://www.channinggeorge.com/
- For more information about epilepsy, visit:" http://www.epilepsy.com/
- For more information about Canine Assist, visit: http://www.canineassistants.org/
- For information about Purple" Day for Epilepsy, a movement to promote epilepsy awareness founed" four years ago by then eight-year-old" " Cassidy Megan McCarthy of" Halifax, Nova Scotia," see: http://www.purpleday.org/index.php.
9 Responses »
Leave a Response